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#Thread 1/ Today's a day when I think a lot of people are going to be discussing and critiquing #journalism Since I've been teaching the subject for quite some time now, here's some things I tell my students about their relationships to public officials.
2/ The first rule of #journalism, even in the @spj_tweets code of ethics, is to "seek truth and report it." Sources of truth don't always want it shared. Everyone wants to look good, and when people have chosen to do bad things, they don't want you to expose them.
3/ A side #ProTip for newsmakers: The best way to avoid unfavorable coverage is to not do bad things. It's not 100%, but it works a lot better than other shenanigans you try.
4/ Ok, so I tell my students that public officials absolutely do try to use the #media. Sometimes this is a good thing. If there is going to be a huge amount of traffic or there's a crisis, the officials will want to work with you to get the word out.
5/ Sometimes is a medium thing. For example, if officials don't know if a policy will be popular, they might "leak" the fact that it's happening to the press and wait to see how the public reacts. If it's bad, they just say the #journalist got it wrong.
6/ This is hella annoying for journalists, as it is reputation-damaging. It's also way it is always best practice to have sources agree to have their names printed and to corroborate information across multiple sources.
7/ Basically, in this case, officials are using journalists as a way to not have to have a potentially embarrassing public comment opportunity. By making the media take the blame, they erode confidence in an important public institution.
8/ I still call this a medium thing for two reasons. 1. Government is also an important public institution, and you could argue that confidence in it is also important. 2. Sometimes officials do legitimately bad things.
9/ I tell my students that sometimes people are just shady, and sometimes people are desperate. Remember that people dislike criticism and unfavorable coverage. They'll try to avoid that by making it hard to do your job.
10/ They'll provide things you request under the Freedom of Information Act in a legal manner, but in the most annoying way possible. For example, files may be disorganized or in a hard-to-use format. Or they'll give you a printout of a long digital file.
11/ It's also pretty well-known how the news cycle works. There's a smaller audience on weekends, so bad news tends to get released on Fridays or right before holidays. 🔥
12/ They'll try to time things so you can't do your job - for example scheduling a #PressConference so close to deadline that you can't publish it, or dumping a big file without enough time to read it carefully.
13/ I tell my students that they need to be prepared. They need to know how to put difficult data back into a usable form. . They need to ask "Why is this person telling me this and why now?"
14/ As a consumer of #news, know that something like today's press conference ahead of the release of the #MuellerReport is a challenge for journalists. There will be an attempt at live coverage on TV, the web and in #socialmedia.
15/ The audience wants to know, and #journalism will do its best under the circumstances to tell it quickly. But know that the actual best will come later, after the reporters have had time to read everything and put it in proper context.
16/ The best reporting on the #MuellerReport release will come tonight or tomorrow.
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