Where's Wendy??

Wendy Saltzman's CBS Atlanta News Web Blog

Keeping Public Officials Private

Why do Public Information Officers shield Elected Officials from the Media? It can have two appearances- either they are trying to hide something, on like in the case last week, it can come across as just plain embarrassing.
As a member of the media I was investigating DeKalb County’s decision to inflict pay cuts on lower level employees, while the County’s top brass were immune from those same cuts in pay. I requested 3 interviews with the CEO of DeKalb county that went unanswered when I tracked him down at a public meeting… Here is the video of that encounter…

   I’ll quote here from my colleague Doug Richard’s blog www.liveapartmentfire.com for another perspective:

“Disinformaiton Officer”

“The ambush itself was classic.  Saltzman stepped between Ellis and the door through which he’d intended to escape.  She blocked the door with her shoe, and politely yet firmly asked Ellis the day-old question.

“And Ellis answered.  But as Ellis was answering the question, the PIO was throwing a fit in front of the camera lens — blocking it with her hand, blocking it with her face, blocking it with her hair.  Later on, she blocked it with a piece of cloth.  Ellis’s answer — that state law required that elected officials take no furloughs  — became the audio background for the on-camera tomfoolery of his public information officer.  Oops.

“And who gets the last word on this stuff?  Maybe the TV station.  Maybe the CEO, when he realizes his PIO made him look like a chump.

“But probably not the PIO, whose job is to anonymously facilitate the flow of information.  Not block it with a cloth, or a hand, in front of a rolling camera — thereby hand-delivering an absurd story about government stonewalling, when a timely, honest answer would have served her boss much better.

“The ambush itself was classic.  Saltzman stepped between Ellis and the door through which he’d intended to escape.  She blocked the door with her shoe, and politely yet firmly asked Ellis the day-old question.

“And Ellis answered.  But as Ellis was answering the question, the PIO was throwing a fit in front of the camera lens — blocking it with her hand, blocking it with her face, blocking it with her hair.  Later on, she blocked it with a piece of cloth.  Ellis’s answer — that state law required that elected officials take no furloughs  — became the audio background for the on-camera tomfoolery of his public information officer.  Oops.

“And who gets the last word on this stuff?  Maybe the TV station.  Maybe the CEO, when he realizes his PIO made him look like a chump.

“But probably not the PIO, whose job is to anonymously facilitate the flow of information.  Not block it with a cloth, or a hand, in front of a rolling camera — thereby hand-delivering an absurd story about government stonewalling, when a timely, honest answer would have served her boss much better.

    Here is the video of the story we ran that night… I’m open for your feedback!

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February 24, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments