You probably already know this, but this point is worth restating. TV reporters aren’t necessarily welcomed wherever they go. Here’s an example from an encounter I had last month at the state capitol. It’s complete with a video re-enactment, embedded at the bottom of this post.
First, let’s set the scene. I’m producing a story that we in the news business call a “followup,” or an “update.” It’s a story first reported days or weeks or months ago, revisited by your friendly neighborhood TV news professional.
Now a lot of folks may think my staff sets up this stuff while I apply makeup and hairspray.
I ain’t got no staff. I gotta make it happen.
He’s standing in his office. I introduce myself, and he greets me with a look that can only be described as a sneer.
“How can I help you?” he says with sneering contempt.
I explain to him that I’m pursuing a story updating a situation that made a lot of news in his district several months ago. My pitch is persuasive. My logic is flawless.
He retorts with the following:
“Why you wanna dredge up that mess again? We ain’t interested in that no more. That’s in the past.”
Then he follows with this classic.
“Why, it must be a sloooow news day.” And then he chuckles heartily.
Why does he chuckle? Because that line “it must be a slow news day” is widely regarded as the cleverest and most dismissive thing you can say when a persuasive and flawlessly logical newsman comes a-calling to pursue a story.
I left that guy’s office without even asking him for an interview. Instead, I did the story without his input. And I left his office with every bit of the respect I had when I walked in.