Posted 31 January 2011,
A policy of engagement
I favor a policy of engagement when the press calls. If a story is going to be written about Trinity, I want the facts, at least, to be correct. And, if there is going to be opinion expressed, I want there to be a clear statement of the School’s position. Often, these two goals help to determine what happens after a journalist calls. My response to a call asking about admissions yields, college placement figures, tuition, or other fact-specific topics is an easy decision…get the facts right. But sometimes the calls are more difficult to decipher.
Often when a reporter calls it becomes apparent that he or she does not have a clear understanding of the story that is being pursued. I have found that with topics such as admissions, budget, college counseling, and endowment that many reporters do not have a good grasp on how non-profit independent schools are run. In these instances I have taken on the role of providing background information, so that the reporter has a basic understanding of the topic. Even if Trinity is not covered in these stories I see that it is in the School’s interest to provide a framework for the reporter as it will help guide discussions of similar stories in the future.
Every so often I receive a press telephone call that I know is likely to go badly. Perhaps it comes from a reporter I distrust or from a publication that tends toward sensational journalism. Other calls describe stories so vague that ...