Thursday, May 08, 2008

The Today Show, Mommybloggers, and Early Experiences with the Press

Perhaps it's optimistic to call the reporter from the small local paper "the press," but the rest of this story is true. As a high school senior, a buddy and I had been awarded National Merit Scholarships, and we were duly photographed and "interviewed" for the Community Journal. We answered questions about what we were studying at present, where we planned to attend college, how we enjoyed our extra-curricular activities, and that sort of nonsense. When you're seventeen, getting to appear in any kind of paper, even a family newsletter with a circulation of twelve, is pretty cool.

The article appeared a week later. It was mighty short, considering we'd talked for an hour, but reasonably accurate. However, there was one single quote from me, and it referred to the University I would attend. "They have a beautiful parking structure, " the article reported I said. A beautiful parking structure. Uh-huh.

While the reporter had been getting settled, my friend and I had been chatting about campus visits, and one particular topic was that of whether freshmen were allowed to bring cars to campus. He was considering UCLA, where parking permits were so rare that they were issued by lottery. I responded that I had just returned from the University, where there didn't seem to be any issues with getting a permit (back then), and I'd even seen a few empty parking structures.

Somehow, that small talk, prior to the interview even beginning, became the sole quote of the day. There wasn't even a blandly generic quote about being excited to win the scholarship, or whether we liked or hated our classes. Instead, they wrote something completely irrelevant to the topic.

That, ladies and gentlemen, was my first experience with the press.

Obviously a small paper is vastly different from a nationally broadcast morning television show, but one would assume that the Today show would have higher standards for relevance. There's been a lot of talk in Blogsylvania (thanks for the new name, Jenny!) about yesterday's segment with Jill Asher of Silicon Valley Moms Blog, Mir, and Kristen and the following interview that Kathie Lee Gifford conducted with Dooce.

Others have said it better – an opportunity was lost for the show to actually report something, to explain the value of online communities instead of just repeat a tired line about "hey, there's this thing here called technology." And yes, I thought it was pretty funny that Kathie Lee, the queen of Too Much Information about her children on the air, questioned Dooce about her daughter's privacy.

The segment could definitely have been better, but overall, I thought it was fine. The women all came across as really smart and on top of life. When you provide material for someone else's story, they take what quotes and snippets that they want, so it's already great that the Today show didn't end up being about parking structures.


Mom101 said...

Great, great points. I think they were fine too; it was Kathie Lee who looked like a complete ass if anyone.

And oh, I feel your 17 year old pain from that article. I still cringe when my name is googled and one of the first links is an article written about me by a journalism student for my alumni paper 10 years ago - he got so many facts wrong that it makes it seem like I took credit for projects I never had anything to do with. I wish I could just make it go away.

Mayberry said...

Oh, that's priceless. The parking structure!

kittenpie said...

Well, you know, there ARE no parking structures in cyberspace... Eek. Perhaps it helps when live, and they can't just edit it down to nothing.