How to respond to a negative news story

Freezing out a reporter should be your last resort. Try one of these less extreme responses instead.

Ragan Insider Content

People occasionally ask me whether it’s ever appropriate to freeze out a reporter, or refuse to speak to him again.

Whenever I hear that, I immediately think of scenes from “The Godfather” and “Fatal Attraction,” complete with horse’s head and boiled bunny. I imagine frustrated interviewees suddenly appearing as caped crusaders, exacting revenge on unfair journalists by “rubbing them out.”

Think hard before you do that. Freezing out a reporter is a dramatic step that often backfires. After all, you probably think a company is guilty when a newscaster says, “We attempted to contact representatives of Huge Corporation, but they didn’t return our calls.”

Before you blacklist a reporter, consider these remedies:

1. Take it to a neutral party.

It’s an age-old truth: The closer you are to a news story, the more likely you will find it flawed. Ask neutral parties to read, listen to or watch the story and give you feedback. You may be surprised to find that the message you hoped would get through did.

2. Talk to the reporter.

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