WAM! It Yourself Conference Liveblog: Media Training

Posts are going in reverse-order so start at the bottom and scroll up for the blow-by-blow in order!

4:00pm: Parting advice… role play, role play, role play. The more you practice, the better you’ll do!

3:46pm: Really good to offer a “what can you do” type action or strategy as a talking point. Even as simplistic as supporting your local shelter through donations or signing a petition.

3:44pm: Don’t cite facts and figures that you can’t back up… the second you make a mistake/state questionable information you bring yourself up for criticism and hurt your own credibility in the future.

3:40pm: Talking points are concise, informative, and should be kept down to three. They should change based on the region, political leaning of the outlet, etc. Try to make them timely (news peg, anniversary, etc.)

3:24pm: We’re breaking into groups now and practicing these things. I’m going to take a break from the liveblog!

3:23pm: Learning how to  flip the script and steer the conversation somewhere a little less loaded if possible; being able to deflect and recover from inappropriate questions. Example: an organization working to get young girls out of the sex trade has reporters constantly wanting to ask these young girls inappropriate questions (like how it felt to f*ck these men)… so what do they do? Reframe the conversation by saying something like ‘The more appropriate question to ask is why so many people are willing to pay 15 year olds for sex and why we’re ignoring that question as a society.” Try not to just decline to answer: give a more appropriate question, laugh the question off and be incredulous that they could even ask that… etc.

3:15pm: Language activity time! We’re throwing out issues we care about: representation of POC in media, income and equality, rape culture, etc. How do we talk about these issues? (1) Using news stories to frame a larger issue in (news pegs). (2)Using inclusive and simple language (interpersonal/relationship violence over the loaded term, domestic violence). (3) Using statistics. (4) “The leading cause of death for pregnant women is murder…” one audience member just brought this up as a frame that really caught her and brought  the issue out in the open… this is a frame in the lead of a story which is a great way to pass the brother-in-law test.

What if you meet a reporter doing a story and you don’t KNOW their angle. What can you do to make the reporter think you’re a great guest even if they don’t agree with you? Have zingers, statistics, and soundbytes ready.

3:10pm: What are the journalists trying to get from you? Great lesson to keep in mind, brought up by Janna in the audience.

Jen: “Objectivity is a myth. […] Plurality of voices should be the goal as a journalist, though that’s not always how it is.” Corporate outlets tend to be the most closed, the ones that come to feminist sources/anti-racist sources etc. with their very specific biases. “When we talk about framing we mean the box within which the story is filtered.” If you have one other person who is moderately liberal there and a  neutral moderator… that’s about the best you’re going to get.

Tactics for Getting Under the Bias:

– Recognizing the bias allows you to plan ahead and come up with tools to circumvent those defenses.

– Your message needs to pass the “brother in law test.” if you’re going to go debate an issue before you frame that issue (with anecdotes, storytelling, facts, stats, news) think about how that message is going to be received by someone who is not an expert, not particularly political… maybe like your brother in law at the Thanksgiving table who just doesn’t care so much. He may not be against the issue, but he just doesn’t understand it. These people can be won over if they feel you are being fair, respecting where they are at, speaking in a way they can understand. Ways to pass this test: (1) Avoid jargon and rhetoric. Using terms and stories that can help people get things in a person to person level.  (2) Stick with the facts; often media outlets will try and make anti-racist or women’s rights activists seem overly emotional, uninformed, etc. (3) Using humor and imagination sometimes instead of coming back with some big, long argument. (Example Jen laughed in Sean Hannity’s face instead of coming back with a long argument.He got thrown off and had to move on… and she got a lot of positive mail. “I don’t suggest laughing a people all the time”  You have to back your humor up with facts and figures.)

2:50pm: So excited for Media Training with Jennifer Pozner! We’re talking about talking points and framing messages to get heard.

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