Thursday, January 28, 2010

Dealing with the press

In my new capacity of industry analyst, I have occasion to talk to the press not infrequently.  It has been an illuminating experience.  Years ago, I was working on a project for a major newspaper publisher where my firm was writing software for placing ads in the paper, and I was writing a small program (my one and only attempt at being a programmer) to test the bigger application.  In so doing I learned that the newspaper ad salespeople referred to the content of the paper as the "news hole," and that newspapers are all about selling ads.

Now that I am in the position of providing journallists with content, I see that the hole metaphor is entirely apt.  Journalists will call you up looking for answer X.  "Do you think X is true?"  And you say "Oh yes, X is very true."  And then your name appears in the press, as if by magic.

Sometimes I will take some time to think about X and consider why X might be true, what might be some of its preconditions, or what we may from X's awesome trueness.  I may share these musings with the journalist, who will run off and print that I said the X was very true indeed.

If you write a press release, the press may read it and restate this or that ever so slightly, and print it.  Or they may just print it.  I guess that's why they call it a release.  If you put numbers in a report, they will definitely print those, often without even reading the caveats.

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