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You Have No Control Over the Media

Posted on July 14, 2014

Sage advice from Ellen Frank (bio) on what to do and not to do in an interview.


You don't have control. And one of the reasons for doing audio and video interviews in very short declarative sentences is that a subset of what you said can't be lifted and taken out of context. In an edited interview, however, you have no control over what the producer chooses to put on the air and chooses not to put on the air. That's just a fact of life of interacting with the media. With print reporters, you have no choice over what he or she chooses to take from what's usually a longer interview.

And he or she has no choice over what kind of headline is written over that article. So you may give a, you may have a perfect interview with a wonderful science reporter who does a great job of summarizing what you had to say and it's all accurate and then that headline writer writes some stupid headline that undermines it all. But you have no control over that. On the other hand, one of my colleagues, when I've, early in my career, was doing some writing for the women's magazines. And she was an editor of a very famous women's magazine, and she said, "Ellen, the only bad press is no press." Now, that's a bit of an exaggeration. But to some extent, it's true. And if you're trying to get the word out there about, I don't know, the crisis in myths about the causes of autism, at least getting it out there that there are myths may be more important than correcting every one of them.

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Excerpted from interview with researcher at the 2014 Career Development Institute for Psychiatry in Pittsburgh, PA.


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