Writing at the intersection of motherhood, feminism and my Latinidad

13 August 2009

Weigh that media request carefully!

At Blogher, I was asked to blog more about the Progressive Women's Voices trainings and what I learned so that others can benefit.

About 8 years ago I got a call asking me to appear on "Hannity & Colmes" but the problem was that I really didn't have much media experience, I had never seen the show and I was scared shitless. I called Jenn Pozner up and she talked me down. We went thru talking points, but she also talked to me about the power of no. "You don't have to accept every call that comes in."

That lesson was hammered into us during the Progressive Women's Voices trainings. PWV trainees receive a one page sheet of questions to ask when you get a media call then you tell the person that you will call them back in 5 minutes. Why is this important? Because you need time to think if this opportunity is really good for you. Not just if you are the expert needed or not, but if this will be good for you.

Example 1 of bad experience: Marisa of Latina Lista had a horrible experience on CNN and I'm grateful that she blogged about it. She asked the right questions, but still had a bad experience. The lesson I took from it was that if you're going to be live on CNN or any channel, prepare for the worst. Marisa asked if it would be a confrontation style debate and they said lied to her about it.

Example 2 of um, maybe you didn't need to say yes: Sheena Williams was profiled on CBS2Chicago about mommy blogging and the controversy about them accepting free products for review and that sometimes they get paid to review products. In the video you can see that she was set up to look bad. The questions were leading her down a road to look bad. She was also opposite Alma Klein who was cast as "the blogger with integrity."

I don't know Sheena, but she seems like just about every other mom blogger I know, just trying to get by in this world. A nice woman who stumbled into this jackpot of blogola. So I feel for her. But again, the story was set up to pit Alma and Sheena against each other. I won't even get into the racial implications. But I should say that this is one of the few times I've seen a mom of color blogger in a media story and well, Sheena is cast as the selfish/lying blogger.

But that's how many of the mom blogger stories have been cast. As mom bloggers are just doing it for the free swag. Kim told them of how most of us are in it for the community, but it apparently wasn't juicy enough.

Example 3 of really? Your first appearance is on Hardball? Katy Abram asked Sen. Spector a question at a townhall meeting one day and found herself on Hardball the next. While she did hold her own a good chunk of the interview and even corrected guest host Lawrence O'Donnell. But he went easy on her, you can tell. Oh yes, I think he ripped apart her concerns by drilling her on her apparent apathy towards politics through the commencement of two wars and was only awoken when POTUS decides to inject cash into the economy and correct the shame that we call health care in this country. I kinda felt bad for her, but then again, perhaps she's decided to ride this baby as far as it will go since she called up Glenn and cried to him about Dems harassing her.

But I suspect that most of us wouldn't be as lucky if our first big media appearance was Hardball.

I'm still learning and feeling my way around this media thing. In the past few weeks I've hit the media jackpot, but I know it won't last. But the fact that I've had a lot of media appearances made me stop and think, "Is this too much? Am I over exposing myself? Am I doing valuable things?" The answer to the last question is yes, right now I am. I'm glad that I made myself think to evaluate what I was doing. I don't want to just do a media call to do a media call. I am trying to set myself up as someone who should be on the short list when you need a Latina/woman/person to speak on feminism/feminist mothering/feminist mom blogging/blogging/momblogging/women in science/education equity.

What are your media goals? Not to get on Oprah, but what do you want the media to think of you as? To me that's your goal, the appearances are how you will get there.

As I said, I'm still learning, so I'd love to hear what you think on this.

Oh and in the end, I didn't do Hannity. I was going to do the show because someone else couldn't, but that someone else did end up doing it. Whew!

3 comments:

I made the mistake of agreeing to be on local 10 o'clock news to discuss the Target snow angel ad (with the woman laying spread-eagle on the bullseye logo). I thought it would bring some positive attention to my org. Wrong. The story was one-sided and I was beaten up repeatedly via hate mail and on local blogs. The reporter did try to make it better in a follow-up blog post, but the damage was done. Lesson learned: Don't ever, ever do local news.

Well, I'll let you know on Friday, when Forbes.com and ForbesWoman.com publishes their interview with me. I think my statements helped the reporter make her case, and my portion of it will probably be no more than a sentence or two, but I can only cross my fingers and hope I don't sounds stupid.

I never got into blogging to be heard. I only began publishing my journals online because it keeps me prolific. But then people started reading them, and I'm still not sure how I feel about that. 500 readers a day scares me, but not enough to pull the plug. Not yet anyway.

Lisa -- Not sure if I would say never do local news, but just know that most stories pit one against the other. You just try to spin yourself in the best light.

FB -- Yay!! Can't wait. And same here. I didn't start out looking for any of this, but hey, look whats happened! :)