Jack TenneyExtra Point

by Jack Tenney, Publisher

June 1999

Media types

I never liked media types but after 15 years of being one Id better deal with it or find something else to do. As we begin our 16th year of publishing this local magazine, allow me to share a few observations regarding misconceptions about the media and, uh, media types.

No comment doesn't work. Years ago, I was the mucky-muck at a local manufacturer. Said manufacturer had a process that necessitated the permitted discharge of treated waste into the sewer. The sewer district discovered that some of its lines were rotted, corroded and corrupted. Naturally, their representatives talked with our representatives about a remedy fairly standard stuff. At that time, the local mucky-muck raker (AKA Vanguard Press) loved to make a story out of anything that leaked. So when the reporter called requesting to speak with earth-defiler- in-charge, the called was transferred to me.

Reporter: Mr. Tenney, how long have you been polluting the universe?

Me: No comment.

Reporter: Mr. Tenney, what do you say to charges that there are fewer field mouses in the fields around your plant than average?

Me: Mouses or mice?

Reporter: Mice.

Me: No comment.

Reporter: Why wont you comment?

Me: Damn it! No comment!

Needless to say, a fair amount of the story had to do with my reluctance to comment, specifically quoting my Damn it, no comment comment.

But that wasn't the worst of it. My old company was a grand champion recycler. Therefore, big old industrial paint cans were put to re-use hauling little bitty parts from work station to work station. Surprise, on a hot summer day with the truck bays and doors open a sneaky little photographer took a picture of dozens of these paint cans with black drippy stains stacked all around the shop floor. Understand the cans in question had nothing to do with anything that ever was permitted (or not) to go in the sewer. Also, understand the picture was gross and dramatic and especially effective with call-outs and leads that included the words Drip-drip-drip and Damn it! No comment! Conclusion: Pictures are worth a thousand words plus some if you accompany them with strong captions.

So, you ask, if No comment doesn't work, what does?

Truth works, especially if its long and boring. For instance, another time, I had to field a reporters question regarding our seemingly horrible safety records. An office clerk broke her ankle playing with a Frisbee and a guy got hit with a horseshoe at the picnic and a press operator got dirt in her eye from an unknown source and the reporter stopped me because he was on deadline and my stuff didn't fit his lead. Me and mine were not mentioned in the Free Press article on workplace safety by Dave Karvelous.

Something that business people (my favorite kind of people) like to do is tell reporters and article writers things off-the-record or not-for-publication. Fair warning, reporters and article writers might not remember (and, you might not, either) which part was on or off. Plus what you say in either case can be discovered elsewhere, even searched for elsewhere if its interesting enough. So, if you don't want to see it in print don't talk about it.

All that said, off-the-record, just-between-us, not-for-publication, I feel a lot better, thanks.