Part 1: A field guide to dealing with the media

Swallowed by the media.

Swallowed by the media.

“It just feels as if there’s been evasiveness in terms of being honest and straightforward.”

Supervisor Terry Lamphier has since backpedaled from that statement to CBS13 News in Sacramento, his initial reaction to the concept of a mall development at the intersection of Highway 49 and Dorsey Drive.

“In the context of my full remarks, the term ‘evasiveness’ was to convey my experience with recent city councils of inconsistent messaging and not being completely forthcoming,” Lamphier told The Union after he had time to reconsider his initial statement.

“Keep in mind the TV interview was 5-8 minutes long, of which they took a few seconds out. It was really out of context.” (In this context, “out of context” usually means you regret something you said.)

Then Lamphier limped home with the following: “In fairness, I did not start this controversy. I was called by the news station because somebody else had started it, and they were looking for someone to talk to.” (He just threw more fuel on the fire.)

But Lamphier was wise enough to back off his initial statement, instead of stubbornly refusing to admit he was (shall we say) intemperate. His opposition in the race for his supervisor’s seat probably won’t let the statement die, but Lamphier won’t have to spend the rest of the campaign defending it.

(Personally, I’m looking forward to his explanation of how he can be the anti-big development candidate when his biggest campaign contribution to-date is from a (drum roll)…big developer!)

Lamphier isn’t the only player in this developing drama who has shown he possesses a tin ear. Tom Last, Grass Valley’s community development director, didn’t help matters by invoking the image of the “Fountains in Roseville” when discussing the possibilities for the 215,000 square foot facility. Apparently he isn’t familiar with the term “Don’t Roseville Grass Valley.”

Then there’s developer Russell Jeter, who doesn’t live in the area and obviously isn’t attuned to local sensitivities regarding development. First, he let the project surface in the middle of a political race where economic development should be a major issue. You don’t want your project to be a major issue in a contested campaign.

Second, he let the story get away from him. Instead of meeting with the local media (there aren’t that many) to lay out his concept and explain how it will benefit the community, he let the news surface on a meeting agenda. Then the real fun began.

Many people actually get their news and information from social media, the Wild West of communications where there is no oversight and no accountability. When big news is light on specifics, it just encourages the speculation, unsubstantiated rumors, and mindless theorizing for which social media are well known.

So how do you tame the media beast, or at least co-exist with it? Glad you asked, because next week we’ll offer some tried-and-true techniques for dealing with the media.

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