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So what's proper protocol when a fellow reporter breaks meeting protocol?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by murphyc, Jan 20, 2010.

  1. murphyc

    murphyc Well-Known Member

    Now that I have finally stopped laughing from the incident, here is the scenario from a meeting I attended tonight. Small town in our outlying area rejected an urban renewal plan last fall, and city is looking at running the plan again. The advisory board met before the council did this evening, and directed city administrator to make some wording changes. Council was going to vote on issue tonight, but that got pushed back. So when council met later, there was nothing to vote on.
    Reporter from the local daily was there (a TV station had a story last week, and we've been covering stuff in this town for about a month), and I suspected he wasn't paying attention during either meeting.
    After council reiterated they wouldn't be voting until next month, fellow reporter and I both started packing up. I'm about to leave when I notice said reporter took seat in front of council, which was in the middle of discussion for the next topic.
    "Sorry to interrupt, I'm sure I'm totally out of line, but I'm on deadline," reporter said, introducing himself. He then proceeds to ask what action the advisory board took, whether they were sending the issue back to voters or what. City admin explained what happened. Reporter then asked what decision the council had just made.
    Getting his answers, reporter proceeded to speed out of there. I chuckled, but didn't say anything even though I had plenty of questions in mind.
    What gets me is there was a 10-minute break between the advisory board meeting and the council meeting so the reporter could have clarified things. I understand and appreciate being thorough, but things were clearly answered during the meetings had the reporter simply listened at all.
    So what is the proper protocol for when a fellow reporter makes a breach in protocol? I've always wondered, but usually don't say anything unless it's a friend in which case I do some teasing. Should I have given him some tips, or not?
  2. Smasher_Sloan

    Smasher_Sloan Active Member

    You should have gone out for beers and not posted this. That's what you should have done.
  3. Smallpotatoes

    Smallpotatoes Well-Known Member

    If he's new to the business and fairly likeable, maybe take him aside a little later and offer him a little friendly advice.
    I'm sure he'll hear about it from his boss.
  4. HanSenSE

    HanSenSE Well-Known Member

    Definitely. Someone did this for me at one of the first college football games I covered as a student (and knew it all, of course) and haved always taken the effort to help newbies since.
  5. murphyc

    murphyc Well-Known Member

    Except I had a ton of work to do, and remember he was on deadline. Not that it mattered; his story didn't run today anyway.
    When I get a free moment later this week (haha) I'll send the guy a quick note. If I remember right, he graduated from college 3-5 years ago, so he should know better. But maybe he hasn't had to cover many meetings.
  6. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    I don't understand how he broke protocol.

    Sounds like he was just not paying attention. Not like he used the salad fork with his steak or something.
  7. TheSportsPredictor

    TheSportsPredictor Well-Known Member

    He got what he needed. He wins.
  8. spnited

    spnited Active Member

    Seriously, murphy, what did he do that was so wrong. Maybe he wasn't paying attention. Maybe he actually didn't understand what was going on. And what protocol is there that says he can't ask questions, redundant or not?
    He got the clarification he needed, whether it was a bit amateurish or not.

    And why is this your business?

    Good idea to "set him straight" after you come on here and ridicule him.
  9. Den1983

    Den1983 Active Member

    I don't know what the guy did that was so wrong. How is that "breaking meeting protocol"? Is it obnoxious, sure. But he didn't do anything wrong.
  10. OnTheRiver

    OnTheRiver Active Member

    Know what I'd do about it?

    Shut up and mind my own business. Because the second I start thinking I'm better than someone else in this game, I make some sort of error that bites me in the ass. Every. Time.

    Karma is a mutha.
  11. Rosie

    Rosie Active Member

    *Shaking my head*

    You guys who don't see what was wrong here don't cover government meetings, do you.

    What that reporter did was no different than if he walked up to the referee during the game and asked for a clarification of a penalty, or pulled the coach aside during the game - while giving instructions to his players - and asked the coach for a quick interview since he (the reporter) had to leave early.

    Or even - a board favorite - wearing school colors and cheering in the press box for the team he's covering.

    You just do not ask questions during a meeting like that. There's certain rules and formats which are followed for government meetings and what the reporter did was WRONG. Absolutely, beyond a shadow of a doubt WRONG.

    Someone suggested telling him what he did was wrong. I agree. But that he said something about possibly being out of line tells me that he doesn't care that he made himself look like a total and complete idiot.

    If that happened during a meeting I was covering (and I cover LOTS of government meetings) I would say something to the reporter, probably even call him. After all, he might be new and seeing how many of you don't see the problem, well, yeah. I'd diplomatically clue him in.

    And be secretly happy he just made me look that much better. ;)
  12. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member


    I understand what you are saying, but from the original post, the reporter seemed to know he wasn't supposed to be asking the question then. Hell, he probably saw the other guys packing and just woke up.

    But if they answer the question, you're good.

    Just like if during a football I yelled to the ref and asked him what that last call for a personal foul was for. If he answers, I'm good.

    Now, if the dude made a habit of interrupting meetings just cause he got away with it once, I'd tell him to cut it out.
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