Thursday, January 29, 2009

Media Relations and Reporting 101: find the right spokesperson

FOX News reports that "transportation officials in Texas are scrambling to prevent hackers from changing messages on digital road signs after one sign in Austin was altered...."

The article continues with two subsequent paragraphs that contain quotes from a Texas DOT spokesman confirming the hacking. But by the fourth paragraph, this very same state agency spokesman says that the sign in question is owned and operated by the city of Austin.

Not until paragraph seven of the article do we hear from someone representing the city of Austin

Why was the state DOT guy in this story?


Anonymous Alan said...

Why did Fox focus on the Texas state official instead of one from Austin? Because the state guy saw it on his way to work. And because the details of the Austin case indicate that all signs manufactured by this particular company may be vulnerable to hacking. ... Now if there really *were* zombies ahead, then yes, I'd want almost all the reporting to come directly from Austin.

12:19 AM  
Blogger Roger said...

True enough. The state guy saw the sign (and quite possibly alerted the reporter). But beyond that, he's not the expert on the Austin-bought and -installed signs. He should have referred the reporter to the city spokerperson, and the reporter should have called Austin as well.

11:13 AM  

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