Republican leaders at the Colorado State Capitol are trying to improve their media relations, with off-the-record happy hours, weekly press briefings, and more, according to Feb. 6 report by Rocky Mountain Community Radio’s Bente Birkeland (included below).
That’s great news! I’m serious, because journalists can actually help facilitate good policy making, if Democrats and Republicans help them do their job.
Rep. Chris Holbert (R-Colorado Springs) says he and Senate President Kevin Grantham (R-Canon City) want to be more “open and inclusive” and get to know the press better.
Rep. Justin Everett (R-Littleton) told Birkeland that Republicans “think there’s a liberal media bias, and then when you kind of see it in little things” it reinforces the perception. But Everett thinks better personal relationships lead to better stories.
Here are a four tips for Republicans. Obviously these are offered from a progressive perspective, but I don’t think serious conservatives would disagree with me on this (plus I wrote a book about it):
- Don’t make sweeping generalizations about journalism, as some Republicans do when they complain openly about “liberal media bias” when they see a story they disagree with. There’s no study or proof of any “liberal media bias” at the local level, and making the accusation is rude. So be very specific about your complaints about coverage, and you’ll find reporters will be receptive to your criticism.
- Be factual. This is key. Journalists look for the truth, supported by facts. They don’t want to hear unsupportable statements like blaming Obamacare for Colorado budget woes.
- Don’t be boring. Think about your visual appeal.
- Don’t blow up your long-term relationships over a disagreement. Today’s news is history tomorrow.
- Don’t compliment Trump’s media-relations strategy, as Rep. Jerry Sonnenberg (R-Sterling) did in Birkeland’s piece, when he expressed admiration for Trump for calling journalism fake news. As wrote in a post yesterday, don’t insult reporters by calling their work “fake news,” even if they make a mistake.
Oh, and can progressive journalists attend those happy hours?