Monday, August 11, 2008

As The Media Turns 

This kind of article is becoming more frequent about Barack Obama. He is about to take his turn in the harsh media spotlight. The question is whether he can take criticism without losing perspective. From what little I know, he has been less forthcoming with reporters than his opponent, but it hasn't hurt him so far. But, the media will turn. They have their own self-correcting compass. If a candidate is thin-skinned, it will show soon enough, and the media will be merciless in pricking.

This is a hard lesson of media relations that leaders often fail to learn or to remember. They want to become invulnerable, but that never happens. Their response is to try to control the media, but they find the media uncontrollable. Their handlers hew to messages of the day and themes of the week, but somehow other news breaks through. Some leaders stop listening. They consider reporters nothing more than naive hounds baying in the night. But, having done that, they miss critical issues. Others listen too closely and take criticism too personally. It is hard to maintain balance and to view the media as a both an asset and liability.


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