Seven steps for dealing with the media

Business owners and managers who find themselves in the media spotlight often complain they’re being harassed, persecuted, or treated unfairly. However, many of them suffer that treatment because of their own actions in dealing with reporters and editors. To keep from becoming your own worst enemy, follow a few common-sense strategies. Take control. Reporting the … Read more


I miss the days when newspapers and other media wouldn’t publish a story until it had been edited and edited again. Sadly, expediency has supplanted accuracy, and shrinking budgets have eliminated the copy editors who dispatched typos and other errors from their writers’ dispatches. These days, the only thing protecting writers from themselves is their … Read more


If all three of my loyal readers can tolerate one more post on the media, I’d like to explain part of the reason I have such high expectations for reporters. The Chicago of my childhood published eight daily newspapers: the four citywide papers (Sun-Times, Tribune, Daily News, and the American), three “regional” dailies (Calumet, Southtown, Herald), and the Defender, which served the black community. My family took (now there’s an old expression) the Sun-Times, the American, and the Calumet.

It would have been foolish for all of those dailies to assign reporters to minor events and ordinary crime stories, so they pooled their resources to create the City News Bureau. City News would assign one reporter to cover a story, and the member papers would use it like any piece off the AP or UPI wires.

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My last post focused on media misuse of homonyms during recent coverage of flooding near my home. I noticed that many of the reporters who handled those stories also seemed to have a problem with geography.

I’ll freely admit to being a map geek. When other toddlers were drawing pictures of giraffes and clowns, I was carefully delineating the borders of the lower 48. Every time our family took vacations, I was the one who had the map on his lap and pointed out where we needed to turn. Facebook may be a diversion for most people, but I get lost in Google Earth.

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I’ve written about the all-too-common mistake of substituting a homonym for the intended word. (And if “homonym” isn’t triggering enough brain cells, it refers to those words that sound alike, but are spelled differently.)

Now, I don’t consider using the wrong version of a homonym a mortal sin – except when it’s done by someone in the media. Professionals should know better. During coverage of the recent flooding near my home, I saw several examples of writers and reporters referring to a barrier that holds back water as a “levy.” (At least they didn’t misidentify a dike as a “dyke.” We won’t even go there.)

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