Wow, does the Catholic Church need some media training. Archbishop Denis Hart yesterday faced the parliamentary inquiry into the Handling of Child Abuse by Religious and Other Organisations. Ruth Hilton from Moorooduc summed it up perfectly in The Age today – 18 years to defrock an abusing priest, then a smirk and a flippant ‘better late than never’ from Victoria’s senior Catholic cleric. Shame.
I couldn’t agree more. There’s a place for flippancy in some media encounters but that certainly wasn’t one of them.
And the public agree – the Comment section in today’s edition of the paper was full of criticism of the Archbishop – as well as the And Another Thing column.
Next week it’s Cardinal George Pell’s turn at the inquiry and I can just imagine the arrogance that man will display.
Interesting to read at the weekend that Opposition Leader (not for long) Tony Abbott has seen the light in relation to his media performances. Apparently Abbott observed in himself a distinct difference in the way he would answer people at doorstop press conferences (they’re media conferences Tony, not just press) and the way he would deal with people at a community forum in his electorate.
Eureka – he’s seen the light. I keep telling participants at our media training workshops to imagine themselves in a social situation, be it drinks at the pub, a dinner party or a BBQ with neighbours. The last one is the closest to that community forum Abbott speaks of. And then talk to the media the way you would at that social situation. This lends itself to a much better, more natural conversation.
The downside is that you don’t have as much time in a media interview to put your case as you might in a community forum. But, gee, let’s work on honing your messages and then deliver them in that friendly manner. You’ll be really surprised at the results.
Abbott said he realised he was becoming a little snappy to people at his doorstop press conferences (there’s that word press again) and that really wasn’t a good look as far as the public were concerned.
He then went on to show his lack of understanding of the media by saying the people asking me the questions may as well be members of the public, rather than annoying journalists who are QCs for the prosecution.
Tony, Tony, Tony – the media are the public. That’s their job, to represent the public and ask the questions they think the public want answers to. No working journalist will tell you this but, as a former working journalist, let me tell you – journalists are merely conduits through to that public.
One of your predecessors, John Howard, once told talkback man Jon Faine that he was there to talk to the public not to Faine – and Faine thought that was pretty insightful of Howard who, incidentally, was a master media manipulator. Take heed Tony Abbott.
Bfeore we go, let’s add some more business-speak to the list. In today’s paper I see these examples from a share float – “establish taxonomies”, “vendor agnostic integration layer” and “configurable naming convention management”. Good grief!