Beat the Bitch? Straight Talk on the B-Bomb

John McCain wants to be the next leader of the free world, and he gives a free pass to someone calling his opponent a "bitch", calls it "an excellent question"? And it took him endless obfuscating just to be able to rally to say, "I respect Hillary Clinton"! Never confronting the dropping of the B-bomb? Are you kidding me?

Continue reading "Beat the Bitch? Straight Talk on the B-Bomb" »

Attention Journalists: We're Talking

Turns out the Interview Ambush Police are on the beat. I just saw this “The Media Post” piece today (see below). Also, Isabel Kallman called to say that she, too, had been hoodwinked by a producer in her own recent TV ambush experience. Kallman, a former Wall Street executive left the world of finance when her first child was born and co-founded Alpha Mom TV—a new digital cable, video-on-demand television network on Comcast.

Attention journalists: come in, do you copy? We’re out there, we’re onto you, and we’re talking.

Use your power responsibly, intelligently...and ethically. And give viewers and readers some credit for being able to engage in sophisticated and critical thinking.

A not so nice story of journalistic power From The Media Interview

Check out this detailed account on The Huffington Post of how the message of a media interview can get misrepresented in the editing process and perhaps more importantly how the misrepresentation certainly seems deliberate.

According to business psychologist and author Debra Condren, she was approached by a producer from ABC’s Nightline, who was looking for a “different perspective” from that offered in a book called The Power of Nice; how being nice to others can improve your business relationships and your bottom line. Condren, whose book is called amBITCHous, stated over and over that the difference in her perspective is that:

"we women also need to realize the importance of being nice to ourselves, which means it’s sometimes necessary and okay to confront hostile people in the workplace, but that we can do it with integrity and in a respectful way that doesn’t humiliate the other person."

Condren says the producer seemed to understand this message and on that basis, Condren agreed to do the interview. But when it came time for the shoot, things went downhill:

"The interview started late, and went long because Jessica kept asking me the same questions, phrased slightly differently, over and over again: 'Is it okay to just be a bitch sometimes if you have to confront people?” “Is it okay to come down hard if someone is attacking you in the workplace?' 'Isn’t being nice the last message women need to hear? Haven’t we heard that our whole lives?'"

"I started to get the distinct sense that they wanted me to assume the nickel-plated bitch mantle."

When the interview ended - four hours later - Condren had stuck to her message about taking care of your interests with integrity and still treating others with respect. However, when the program aired, she realized that sticking to your message is no guarantee that your message will come out clearly.

"Deftly paring away the leading set-up questions, and chopping away the beginning parts of my sentences, the clips showed my comments completely out of context, making me sound like a–you guessed it–total bitch advocating chilly tough love in the workplace. They’d cut out every single word I’d repeated endlessly about the importance of honoring ambition with integrity and respect."

And then Condren makes an interesting distinction:

"I can’t say I wasn’t quoted correctly. I can say that the way that they took a fraction of my message, cherry picked my quotes, and didn’t even remotely completely include what I actually said utterly misrepresented the heart of my message."

This touches on something I’ve thought a lot about. If your quotes are sliced and diced and woven into a written narrative, it’s easier for the reader to understand that this is the journalist’s account. But when you see the person on camera and hear their exact words; it’s easier to forget this is also a journalist’s account, an edited version of the interview. The individual words undoubtedly are those of the interviewee, but the context, the message, the relationship of the words are virtually under the complete control of the journalist. That’s a lot of power. Use it nicely.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, February 13th, 2007 at 5:45 am and is filed under TV Interview Case Studies, Key Message, Guest Experiences, Asking Questions, Author Tips, Ambush Interviews, Location Interviews, Bad Recorded Interviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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I am a business psychologist, researcher, author, executive coach, and career advisor. I lead workshops and lecture frequently on women’s need to embrace our ambition. I founded the Women’s Business Alliance, a motivational think tank for more than 2,500 women. For more details, see my about page.

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