Reporters would begin to rid themselves of the ‘fake media’ moniker if they learned an old lesson: YOU are not the story.
Reporters on site from CNN to Sky News begin live shots regularly with excited, breathless statements like:
‘I’ve just come from the White House briefing room …’
‘I was on Capitol Hill just this morning’
‘I’ve covered stories like this before..’
Like me, you may think: Really?! You have? Isn’t that your job? How is that your lead …
Did Woodward and Bernstein do any Watergate investigation work with an eye toward putting themselves in the centre of it all? Not necessarily. It certainly wasn’t their motivating force, or didn’t seem like it to their audience.
We also hear frequently, ‘sources tell me …’ from on air personalities.
This should happen infrequently and with great caution. The ‘source’ is usually not particularly vetted given the speed of the 24-hour news cycle.
Reporters are apt to throw those terms around in an attempt to appear important – like (again) Watergate’s ‘Deep Throat’ is in a shadowy garage somewhere spilling his guts.
Take a look at any news channel – on MSNBC for example, a popular ‘promo’ that runs is anchor Brian Williams saying triumphantly: ‘I’ve just been handed some great reporting!’
I think: Great, you have? That’s your job. Now get to it. His passive voice is also disturbing – shouldn’t he be at least lifting a phone somewhere instead of waiting around for someone to rip a page off of the Associated Press wire?
Take ABC News’ Brian Ross. When on air during a live ‘special report’ Ross reported that in former FBI Director Robert Mueller’s investigation, then-candidate Trump had ordered Flynn to contact the Russians. He cited a Flynn ‘confidant.’ The report caused the American stock market to lose 350 points. He was wrong. The story was retracted.
“The ability to establish, grow, extend, and restore trust is the key professional and personal competency of our time.” – Stephen Covey
This isn’t just a style issue – it goes toward credibility. As viewers, we aren’t interested in the cult of personality that surrounds reporters. Or at least, we shouldn’t be. The news shouldn’t be about them. News should be exactly that, in its purest form.
This tendency to make it ‘all about me,’ in communications in general is absolutely your poison pill as well. If you’re in finance, giving a short talk, none of your statements should revolve around your world and the vaunted place you occupy within it.
At Templar, we believe that speaking and communicating is essentially about enthusiasm – not about yourself, but empathetic, with pure concern for the listener and how your experience, knowledge and expertise can help that other person.
Putting yourself in another person’s shoes to truly understand their needs says that you’re interested and more importantly, sends the message that you understand.
Empathic listening will help you gain trust and elicit openness, all key ingredients to building credibility. Whether you’re a news reporter or a senior leader in business, your audience won’t believe you, if they feel they can’t trust you.
When IPO teams goose-step through pages of their ‘deck’, at times they are at pains to describe each data point on the page, sometimes devolving, and at worst, their thought processes go on a long journey to arrive at their amazing conclusion. No! Stop. That will come out in the discussion.
Every page of your deck you should be asking, ‘So, What?’ So what’s in it for the client? How does it solve their needs or pain? Same goes for reporters. If they asked themselves, ‘So, what?’ more often, we might see a lot more truth in the world.
‘There is no “I” in ‘Reporter.”
Molly Falconer de Ramel is an award-winning journalist who has spent over a decade reporting and anchoring international and national television news. Her specialty is finance and economics. Molly has trained CEOs, CFOs, C-suite executives in their agility in handling everything from live media appearances, IPOs, investor calls, proxy votes, internal meeting prep, and video conference calls.