I meant to write a post a while back about how some of my media interviews just make me feel cheap. It’s obvious the reporter has a point of view they want to get across and they just can’t say it themselves. Or, for whatever reason they just feel they need somebody with PhD after their name to make a point that, honestly, anybody could. After an interview like this I have to question whether I’m just doing this to see myself on TV or get my name in the paper.
Well, yes, at least to some degree. The thing is, in some interviews I actually bring up relevant points related to my expert knowledge as a political scientists and these points actually inform the reporting and/or make it into the article. I really love when that happens. Thing is, you really don’t know which kind of interview it is going to be when it starts. That said, if they are calling to ask about John Edwards, there’s really not a lot that political science has to contribute on presidential candidates buying the silence of their mistresses (not a lot, but actually some). Anyway, I bring this up due to an interesting post by Drum on the topic:
President Obama is raising less money this year than he did in 2008. Quelle disaster! But wait: during the first half of 2008 Obama was in a tightly contested primary contest. This year he’s running unopposed. So it’s not very surprising that the pace of fundraising is a little less frenetic this time around
In any case, this is what a couple of political scientists told BuzzFeed’s Rebecca Elliott when she called them to talk about Obama’s money woes for an article she was working on. But apparently that didn’t make a very good story, so their comments never made it into the final piece. Jonathan Bernstein wonders if public complaints about this kind of behavior will change the way reporters operate:
I’m actually surprised this doesn’t happen more often. After all, as Jonathan points out, the existence of blogs and Facebook and Twitter and listservs makes it pretty easy for interviewees to chat about their interactions with the press. But it doesn’t actually happen all that often. I can think of several possible reasons for this:
- The vast majority of interactions with reporters are pretty boring and not worth writing about.
- Writing about a reporter interviewing you might sound a little conceited (“Look Ma, I’m being interviewed!”).
- Or it might make you sound like a rube. Sophisticates take this stuff in stride.
- Or it might make you sound like a bellyacher.
- Maybe most reporters do a good job and there’s not really much cause for complaints in the first place.
- Sources don’t want to risk not getting calls in the future, and dishing on reporters might get you blacklisted.
Put me down as voting for the last one. If I was regularly bad-mouthing the reporters I talk to (and believe me, it’s been tempting) it’s a pretty safe bet that word would get around and you could no longer count on me for all that great commentary that they love so much in Slovakia.