The Columbia Journalism Review carries a lengthy article by David Cay Johnston about what he sees as poor performance so far by the Obama White House press office staff.
According to Johnston, press office staffers don’t answer the phone, don’t return calls, balk at giving their names and titles, and seem not to understand the basics of journalism — such as who can declare something “off-the-record.”
The single most basic and essential rule about media relations — is answer the damn phone and don’t fool around!
No doubt there are tons of callers to the press office these days but it is essential that the White House assign enough experienced, competent people to to give the national press corps the sense that they are not being ignored.
An outsider might think that the new Administration has a lot more important things to do than devote precious resources to answering silly questions from reporters.
But how will the public know what those important issues are that the White House is working on and how well it is handling them? Through the national media.
If David Cay Johnston is right, the Press Office staff is getting off on the wrong foot. No honeymoon lasts forever — but if the story is accurate, the Obama honeymoon could be shorter than some of Britney Spears’ marriages.
On the other hand, the Obama press office aren’t the first to decide that they would rather not take calls from the press: