Posts Tagged ‘press’

Accessibility or Agenda Setting? Democrats Holding Frequent Press Briefings

By Andrew Doughman | 4:12 pm February 15th, 2011

CARSON CITY – A coffee shop across the street from the Legislature announces “let the games begin.”

With the Legislature in session for less than two weeks, Democratic legislators seem to be playing the game well.

They have called the press corps to briefings during three of the past four working days to showcase meetings or bills they’d like to advance.

This has helped them steer news coverage to the bills they’d like Nevadans to pay attention to, even though some of the journalists among the capitol press corps have neither attended the briefings nor written stories about the bills.

“We want to highlight a few bills,” said Speaker John Oceguera, D-Las Vegas at today’s press briefing where Assembly Democrats announced a school retrofit proposal and a bill related to trade. “We’d like to meet with you every week … We want to get some of our proposals out.”

He said the strategy has been effective so far, citing an example from last week when Democrats held a press conference for a jobs bill that was well-covered in the press.

“It helps to draw attention to the issues that they want to keep raising before the public, so I don’t think it hurts them at all to keep doing that,” said Barry Smith, executive director of the Nevada Press Association.

Oceguera later said the Senate and Assembly Democrats plan to have weekly press briefings Monday and Tuesday afternoons.

On one hand, the conferences could allow legislators to help steer public debate, thereby setting the agenda for what is, and what is not, important. On the other hand, reporters are free to choose whether or not they should pursue the story offered to them at the press conference. It’s the old debate about what constitutes news and who should decide what news is.

Whether the answer is the politicians, the people or the press, frequent media conferences do allow the journalists easy access to lawmakers. The meetings promote government transparency.

“Speaking in general, I like the idea of the accessibility, and you can always ask a question that’s not related to the subject of the press conference,” said Jerry Ceppos, dean of the Reynolds School of Journalism at the University of Nevada, Reno. “I’d say the more the merrier.”

The frequent press conferences also allow spin-off conversations between legislators and reporters to continue after the inevitable “last question” announcement signals the end of the formal media briefing.

“I often like press conferences more than press releases because I can’t talk back to press releases,” Ceppos said.

The Democratic strategy mirrors the policy next door at the Capitol building. Gov. Brian Sandoval sends his senior adviser, Dale Erquiaga, to take questions from the press every Monday.

“It’s a good way for the governor to communicate with the press as well as answer all the questions you all might have,” said Mary-Sarah Kinner, Sandoval’s press secretary.

Kinner helped arrange the Monday meeting time to fit reporters’ schedules.

Republicans at the Legislature are using a different strategy.

“We try to hold a press conference when we really have something to say,” said Senate Minority Leader Mike McGinness, R-Fallon, clarifying afterward that he didn’t mean Democrats have nothing to say.

“It’s just early,” he said. “It’s only day seven.”

Psst: They’re Always Watching: New Lawmakers Get Education On Dealing With Media

By Andrew Doughman | 6:05 pm January 21st, 2011

New state legislators got the low-down this past Friday about how to deal with the press. The theme woven throughout the legislative training seminar was one of transparency.

“They’re lurking,” said Barry Smith, executive director of the Nevada Press Association, while addressing about 20 new legislators in the Assembly chamber. “Being able to watch all the (legislative) hearings and click through the channels, there are eyes on you all the time.”

Smith pointed out that while many new lawmakers probably encountered the media during their campaigns, the press at the capitol is a different beast.

Ben Kieckhefer, a newly-elected Republican senator from Reno, noted that reporters were using Twitter at that very moment to comment on the goings-on at their seminar.

With reporters able to tune in and Tweet out the news, the press at the capitol could be more omnipresent.

“It’s a different world with Twitter and Facebook and all the jazz,” said Bob Fisher, president of the Nevada Broadcasters Assocation.

Smith also cautioned legislators that they should remember the cameras that broadcast hearings are always running.

“They can tell whether you’re playing solitaire or not,” he said.

During these next few weeks, new legislators will be getting used to new homes, new offices and hundreds of new faces. The training session regarding the press was the last class for the newcomers; they’d been in various classes for three days straight. All of this to ensure that they’re ready for day one.

As the last day wore down, Fisher told legislators they should be aware of the different types of journalists they’re likely to encounter.

“There’s a spectacular difference,” he said. “It is so far between a journalist who has the opportunity to write opinions and share opinions … from a reporter who is coming in and asking you a question about a legislation that you are supporting.”

Like all relationships, Smith explained, the relationships between legislators and the press must be built on trust.

The national reporter who calls a legislator about a bill and is only looking for a good quote doesn’t care about trust. That reporter will never talk to that legislator again.

It’s a different situation when the local reporter sees and talks to legislators everyday, Smith said.

In that situation, legislators were taught about the various gradations between “on the record” and “off the record.”

When the session ended late Friday afternoon, legislators turned out for dinner. Walking out of the Assembly chamber next to this reporter, one new legislator jokingly said that he would have to be “careful” after listening to all that advice.

Darn! What Will We Make Fun of Now? (Gibbons Hires New Campaign Comm Dir)

By Elizabeth Crum | 11:32 am April 27th, 2010

Team Gibbons has signed a new campaign communications director.

Who presumably will be writing all his future missives and robbing me of one of the great joys of this campaign season:  shredding Gibbons’ terrible press releases for fun.

Jill Lufrano is a former reporter and state public information officer with a background in communications. Worked for both the Nevada Appeal and the Reno Gazette Journal at one point. Also spent some time as a PIO for the state Division of Environmental Protection.

Welcome, Jill.


Searchlight Tea Party Update & Schedule

By Elizabeth Crum | 11:17 am March 14th, 2010

Quite a few of you — including media types who are trying to figure out where to be, and when, to cover the event — have said you appreciated the info in my earlier post about Searchlight Tea Party logistics, so here are some quick updates and a schedule:

9:30-10:00 AM – Apparently, the Tea Party Express (TPE) will actually be starting their day down in Laughlin.  Everyone who wishes to join the TPE tour delegation is instructed to meet up in the parking lot of Harrah’s at 9:30 AM where there will be a brief news conference/mini-rally.  The TPE buses will then pull out and lead the caravan of vehicles up to the location in Searchlight.

10:30 AM-12 PM – A candidate’s forum hosted by “Anger is Brewing” will be going on at the Searchlight rally location.  Grassroots activist Debbie Landis organized this part of the event and has asked that some folks skip going down to Laughlin first and instead show up in Searchlight early (especially if you want a good seat for the day).

12:00 Noon – Tea Party Express’s “Showdown in Searchlight” rally.  Speakers (and US Senate candidates) will speak.  TPE buses will leave for Henderson after the rally is over.  Estimates are that the rally may last from 2 to 3-ish hours.  Hard to say with all those speakers…  (My advice:  Show up early.  Take folding chairs.  And plenty of water.  But don’t drink too much of it because there will only be so many porta-potties to go around and you may have to wait in line.)

4:00 PM – Grassroots Nevada event with Ann Coulter at Henderson Pavillion.  Gates will open at 3:30.  Tickets are needed (general admission is free and VIPs are not).

5:00 PM – Tea Party Express rally at Henderson Pavillion

TPE is still working to organize charter buses from a variety of places throughout Nevada and the Southwest U.S. to get people to Searchlight on March 27th. Anyone interested in trying to get a seat on a bus heading to Searchlight can email the TPE folks at:  CharterBus.tpx@gmail.comand

And:  I’m hearing there will be TV ads running soon in NV, Cali and AZ.

And:  TPE and NV grassroots leaders tell me that whoever is spreading the rumor that there will be 300,000 people at the rally in Searchlight should really stop being so silly.  Sounds like they will all be pretty happy if the head count is 5,000 to 10,000, although they think it is possible there may be (and they will be pleased with) more.

(Hey Searchlight:  Ya ready?!)

Update: Here’s a pic of what the Tea Party Express buses will look like:

Very fancy!