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|“Your 15 Minutes: Making the most of your media moment”
By: Derek W. Logue
Published August 8, 2014
[CLICK HERE to download the Powerpoint presentation given at a 2014 Conference]
The purpose of this article is to help reform activists prepare for a variety of media interviews for print media (both Internet and traditional
paper media), radio and television (including online video interviews). The media is a powerful tool for promotion; however, interviews can be
an intimidating experience. Thankfully there are a number of techniques you can utilize to better prepare for the interview experience. This
article addresses the typical forms of media interviews, the interview style to beware, and how to identify and address interviewers with hidden
agendas. Also included are various techniques you can utilize before and during the actual interviews, such as practice interviews, body
language exercises, and preparing brief talking points.
Part 1: The media and you
“Visibility equals credibility .” This simple statement forms the most basic tenet of marketing. The Sex Offender Reform Movement is in need
of a strong marketing campaign, yet our numbers are few and our resources fewer. So what is the most efficient way for our movement to
become visible? The best answer is the media.
Mass media is the primary source of information in society. A 2010 Pew Research Center poll found 99% of Americans view at least one news
story daily; 92% of Americans (92%) use multiple platforms to get news on a typical day, including national TV, local TV, the internet, local
newspapers, radio, and national newspapers; 46% of Americans say they get news from four to six media platforms on a typical day; 7% get
their news from a single media platform on atypical day; more than half of American adults (56%) say they follow the news “all or most of the
time,” and another quarter (25%) follow the news at least “some of the time .”
The Pew study also determined which media outlets are most utilized by the public. Television is still the most utilized media outlet, followed by
the internet, radio, and print media. Below is a specific breakdown of American media usage:
• 78% of Americans say they get news from a local TV station
• 73% say they get news from a national networks or cable news (CNN, Fox)
• 61% say they get some kind of news online
• 54% say they listen to a radio news program at home or in the car
• 50% say they read news in a local newspaper
• 17% say they read news in a national newspaper (NYTimes, USA Today) 
It should not be surprising that our political leaders obtain most of their information from the media, which they use to shape their legislative
decision-making. As noted in a Minnesota Public Radio story in 2007, “misinformation and a lack of information often shapes sex offender
policy…Most of the legislators in [a study by Lisa Sample of U. of Nebraska- Omaha] said their primary source of information was the news
media.” In most cases, lawmakers didn’t read studies/ reports relevant to legislation they supported. Sample found most sex offender
legislation follows the abduction and murder of a child, and the resulting public outrage. In Minnesota, a panel of experts completed a
comprehensive report to serve as a guide for sex offender policy in the state. One of the report’s authors says the biggest challenge is just
getting lawmakers to read it . It seems many legislators made up their minds long before the comprehensive report hit their desks.
So far I have stated the obvious. The media has the power to shape public opinion and public policy. So how do we tap into this powerful
resource? First, we must understand a few points of fact and fiction about the media and its influence over people.
FICTION: The media must report both sides of a story.
The Fairness Doctrine was a policy of the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC), introduced in 1949, that required the
holders of broadcast licenses to both present controversial issues of public importance and to do so in a manner that was, in the Commission's
view, honest, equitable and balanced. The Fairness Doctrine had two basic elements: It required broadcasters to devote some of their airtime
to discussing controversial matters of public interest, and to air contrasting views regarding those matters. The main agenda for the doctrine
was to ensure that viewers were exposed to a diversity of viewpoints . The FCC decided to eliminate the Doctrine in 1987, and in August
2011 the FCC formally removed the language that implemented the Doctrine .
That being said, the media sometimes seeks a conflicting opinion. Some are not even aware there is a dissenting opinion on sex offender
laws. This might work to your advantage as you make contact with media personalities.
FACT: The media can have an agenda and can influence the people to accept this agenda.
One popular theory on how the media influences the public is called “agenda-setting theory.” “Agenda-setting theory” describes the "ability [of
the news media] to influence the salience of topics on the public agenda ." That is, if a news item is covered frequently and prominently the
audience will regard the issue as more important. Agenda-setting is the creation of public awareness and concern of salient issues by the
news media. Two basic assumptions underlie most research on agenda-setting:
1. The press and the media do not reflect reality; they filter and shape it; and
2. Media concentration on a few issues and subjects leads the public to perceive those issues as more important than other issues. 
One of the most critical aspects in the concept of an agenda-setting role of mass communication is the time frame for this phenomenon. In
addition, different media have different agenda-setting potential.
No discussion of media influence would be complete without understanding the term propaganda and how it differs from persuasion.
“Propaganda is the deliberate, systematic attempt to shape perceptions, manipulate cognitions, and direct behavior to achieve a response
that furthers the desired intent of the propagandist .” Propaganda is intended to achieve a goal for the propagandist, not necessarily for the
public. The media tends to be propagandistic by nature.
By contrast, “Persuasion as a subset of communication is usually defined as a communicative process to influence others. A persuasive
message has a point of view or desired behavior for the recipient to adopt in a voluntary fashion ”; Purpose is to reach a common goal that
satisfies all parties; synonyms for persuasion are dialogue and compromise. The process of persuasion is reciprocal and voluntary.
Mass media can be both persuasive and propagandistic, though it heavily leans towards the latter. We tend to think of propaganda as
negative because of recent historical events, most particularly the association with the term with Hitler and the Nazis. However, propaganda is
a part of everyday life, such as awareness campaigns, advertising, and websites. Even our movement can be considered “propaganda” by
those outside the cause. Thus, it is important to recognize that not all propaganda is inherently bad.
FICTION: The media will fact-check and give you the objective truth.
John Stossel succinctly summarizes the media reporting process: “Many in the media are scientifically clueless, and will scare you to death. We
don't do it on purpose. We just want to give you facts. But the people who bring us story ideas are alarmed. Then we get alarmed, and eager
to rush that news to you. We know that the scarier and more bizarre the story, the more likely it is that our bosses will give us more air time or
a front-page slot. The scary story, justified or not, will get higher ratings and sell more papers. Fear sells. That's the reason for the insiders'
joke about local newscasts: ‘If it bleeds, it leads.’ Also, raising alarms makes us feel important. If we bothered to keep digging until we found
the better scientific experts, rather than the ones who send out press releases, we'd get the real story. But reporters rarely know whom to call.
And if we did, many real scientists don't want to be bothered. Why get involved in a messy debate?” 
Many activists do what politicians and reporters may not do—read the facts. We read, analyze, and summarize complex data to reach a logical
conclusion. The primary reason for this is we simply have the time and the desire to do so. Reporters and politicians have short deadlines to
devote to a bill or a topic. We are experts in sex offender issues, but we aren’t highly visible because you are a small, grassroots organization.
The media may approaches for an interview, but we can't always rely on the “wait-and-see” method of attracting attention. We need to be
more proactive, which brings me to the next fact:
FACT: The news media is receptive to story ideas
It can be difficult at times to get attention, but not entirely impossible. Thanks in part to the Internet, we can influence stories in many ways.
The most common form of activism in our grassroots campaign is commenting on articles of interest. On occasion, these comments are read
by the editor, it may appear in later articles on the subject. However, there are other strategies we can utilize to raise awareness or our cause.
Many media outlets allow us to write “letters to the editor” or editorials  . Sometimes, you may even be told to contact the reporter directly,
expressing your concerns with the article, asking if the reporter is interested in doing a follow-up story, and offer yourself up as an interviewee
for further discussions on the topic. It is possible to proactively suggest a topic for a show or news story if you can suggest an idea to the news
editor or producer.
FACT: The media can debunk myths as well as create them
“While a major focus of this book is here mongering by journalists and others, throughout the chapters that follow I take note as well of
reporters who bring to light serious dangers about which the public hears little from politicians, corporations, and most of the media. Indeed,
again and again I find that it is reporters, rather than government oversight organizations, academics, or other professional truth seekers, who
debunked silly or exaggerated scares that other journalists irresponsibly promulgate. Unfortunately, however, these correctives often occur
long after whole sectors of the populace have been scared senseless  .”
Controversy sells. Our movement represents a dissenting and, at times in the eyes of the media, a “controversial” opinion. Thus, we have a
golden opportunity to challenge some of the most prevailing myths about sex offenders in our culture. At times, we can find individuals willing
to consider our position. We have the evidence on our side, and because of our degree of knowledge, we can become a valuable resource to
reporters looking for a dissenting opinion.
FICTION: Being in the media guarantees you will be an instant celebrity
The media, and its consumers, tend to have short-term memories (Think of the movie“50 First Dates”). However, constant exposure to our
message is having an impact on the media. The more we get out there, the better our returns.
If you represent an organization or an activist website, you may see a spike in site visitors but will go away in a day or two. If you run your own
site, perhaps you can make a message welcoming people coming in from the show and directing them to what they need to see most. The
good news is media exposure increases our credibility as an expert in the field. I can state that “Derek Logue is a nationally recognized expert
on sex offender laws, with over two dozen media appearances including CNN and HLN” because it is a fact. Visibility equals credibility.
Types of media
Media types can be categorized as one of three mediums – radio, television, and print. The Internet's can fall into any of these three
categories, because it can offer all three mediums through podcasts (radio), streaming video or YouTube (television) and websites, blogs, or
news stories (print). Each medium have specific requirements (and a personality) you should understand before the interview.
Radio: The main feature of radio is that it is a personal medium. Radio gives the illusion of a one-to-one relationship, which means that you
should adopt an appropriate style when you go on radio programs. You should adopt a friendly approach in interviews on programs such as
talkback. In radio you are talking to or with people, not at them. The radio message is a fleeting moment of sound. It is not the medium for
complex explanations or lists of facts and statistics. The listeners have to be able to grasp your point at one pass of the information, as there is
no visual reinforcement and no hard copy to check back for verifications .
The Radio Interview Experience
Print: Press interviews have similar requirements as electronic media in terms of news value and brevity. The apparent relaxed nature of
press interviews should not lull you into a false sense of security. Ensure you get your key messages in early, be careful of rambling and place
tonal emphasis on key messages. A trick for press interviews over the phone is to stand up while doing the interview - it will give you a lot more
The Print/Press Media Experience
Television: Television is demanding in the sense that the audience can see you as well as hear you. Your body language, dress, background
and movement all contribute to communication with the audience. To appear credible on television, you must sound and look credible. Sit
rather than stand, as you need controlled movement and remember to use slow, controlled gestures. Review your appearance before the
interview, ensuring your dress, hair and facial expression come across credible. The power of television is its visual impact; you must be brief,
to the point and get the key message across in a limited time. Allow yourself time to think, look away and think about the question (look down
to the floor not to the ceiling). Use silence instead of filler words such as ‘um’ while thinking  .
The TV News Experience:
“Journalism genre” is defined here as the classification of the style, approach or pattern utilized by a media outlet. Some forms include:
The media is an important utility for information dissemination. The media gives us the opportunity to reach a larger audience. However, media
interviews can be intimidating, especially if you are not adequately prepared. The next section covers tips on preparing for the media interview.
Part 2: The Media Interview
The first step in preparing for your interview is identifying the type of interview being conducted. This is important because some types of
interviews need more preparation than others. There are several types of media interviews:
There is one particular interview format worthy of special attention—the dreaded “Panel discussion.” I believe the panel discussion is the worst
case scenario. Certain cable news programs utilize this format; these are often designed to be unruly debates, and panelists are often
handpicked because they offer an extreme point of view.
Choose wisely in accepting interviews. You do not need to grant every interview request. Carefully consider whether to participate in an
• Would compromise you in any way;
• Is out of your range of expertise;
• Is in a panel format.
There is no shame in referring the potential interviewer to someone else if you don’t feel up to the task.
One fact you will have to accept is you have limited control over the interview or the subsequent article or report. One phenomenon that tends
to occur in most articles where Registered Citizens and their supporters are featured is the phenomenon I like to call “the big BUT.” The “Big
BUT” is the point of the story a journalist adds a conflicting opinion that tends to damper a good article, generally with the word “but” as the
beginning of the re-BUT-tal (pun intended) A Big but article may state, for example, “John says the sex offender registry harms his family. BUT
Jane of Save the Kids, Inc. says the registry saves kids.” There is not much you can do but give the best interview you can give and try not to
worry about the “other side of the issue.”
The modern media, especially cable TV and radio shows, often hire individuals who offer entertainment value as well as covering a topic.
Examples of these entertainment-oriented interviewers include Dr. Drew, Nancy Grace, Glenn Beck, or Rush Limbaugh. Of course, this
behavior may not be limited to the obvious examples. When approached for an interview, watch for these distinct interview personality types
and prepare a counter-strategy:
One tactic in particular is worthy of further discussion. If the journalist asks the same question repeatedly in different ways, the interviewer is
probably fishing for a specific answer to fit his or her agenda. A prime example of this tactic comes from my interview with the Cincinnati
Enquirer in July 2007. During the interview, the reporter asked if I moved to Ohio because the laws were more lax. I said, “No, I moved to Ohio
because one program in Florida that accepted me reneged on the offer, and the Ohio move was a last minute decision.” He then asked if Ohio
is more lax than Florida, I responded the residency restrictions were not as tough (Ohio’s restrictions was 1000 feet from schools only, while
Florida has restrictions as high as 2500 feet)
In the actual article, the reporter made the following statement: “Some, like Logue, say sex offender laws are more lenient than in other states.
‘I was supposed to go to Florida, but Florida was too tough on sex offenders,’ he says.” The reporter then discussed how Florida registers
people for life (not all registrants) while Ohio only registers some registrants for 20 years . The agenda was a belief that Cincinnati was a
“Mecca for sex offenders.” Unfortunately, a blatant misquote helped perpetuate a local myth.
There are a few keys you can use to prepare for an interview.
Our body influences our mind, our mind influences our behavior, and our behavior influences our outcomes. Therefore, understanding the
role body language plays in preparation is imperative. Powerful people “make themselves big” or expand; powerless people slump, wrap up,
and shrink. We compliment the non-verbal actions of those we converse with– when the other is powerful, we shrink, and when we are
powerful, the other shrinks. Truly powerful people have high dominance (testosterone) coupled with low stress (cortisol). You may not feel
confident now, but studies on body language have concluded you can “fake it until you make become it!” Practice power posing before and
use them during interviews, even if you are not on TV. “Tiny tweaks” in body language lead to “big changes” in your confidence over time. 
The “Two Minute Drill”
Try these techniques before every interview, even practice interviews, and it may help you physically prepare for the interview. Pick a “Power
Pose” and hold it for two minutes. A power pose is a stance of confidence; typical power poses include standing with your feet shoulder-width
apart with your hands on your hips and standing tall (a.k.a. the “Superhero pose”), raising your hands over your head in a “victory pose,” or
sitting in a relaxed position with your legs spread and your body leaned back with your hands behind your head. Before a speech or important
telephone call, allow your voice to relax into its optimal pitch by keeping your lips together and making the sounds “um hum, um hum, um hum.”
And if you are a female, watch that your voice doesn’t rise at the ends of sentences as if you are asking a question or seeking approval.
Instead, when stating your opinion, use the authoritative arc, in which your voice starts on one note, rises in pitch through the sentence and
drops back down at the end. Right before you enter the meeting room, take a deep breath and exhale through your mouth. (If you are
unobserved, make a soft “ahh” sound.) Doing so releases the tension in your neck, shoulders and jaw that can make you look rigid or
To tell or not to tell: Your personal testimony
If you are a Registered Citizen or a loved one of a Registrant, you may consider whether or not to discuss your personal story. Personal and
emotional stories can be power statements against sex offender laws. However, your personal story can be a weapon to be used against you.
The decision to address your story is up to you; do so if you feel confident you can handle the pressure of potential attacks against you. If you
do, be honest and choose your words carefully; the competition likely knows your story (or at least what they assume is your story). If you
choose not to, then state you do not wish to discuss the case. “I’m not here to discuss my own past.” Remember, you don’t have to answer any
question, but failing to address a question can have potentially negative consequences .
During The Interview
Below are 10 really good tips for answering media questions:
One key strategy during the interview is learning to “take charge.” Either you or the reporter controls the interview – so take the lead. Below
are a few leading strategies:
There are a few things you can do after your media interview to help further the cause. If possible, make follow-up contact with the reporter or
the other show guests. Building a good rapport and/or supplementing the issues you raised in the interview with your references helps solidify
credibility. There are hundreds of active members in our cause, and not everyone will love your interview. Don’t be hard on yourself. No one is
perfect. Try not to fall into the “should’ve, could’ve, would’ve” and similar thinking traps. Every media interview, no matter how you feel about
the interview, is exposure for our cause (“street cred”). The only bad exposure is no exposure. Our “15 minutes” is generally about a day or
two. The media has short term memory, as will the audience, especially in the national TV/ radio media. So don’t beat yourself up over a “bad
interview” and don’t listen to the haters.
The media is a powerful tool for spreading the message when used properly. Remember: We are on the unpopular side of the sex offender
law debate. The other side may grant us a voice, but expect biased opinions, personal insults, and unequal debates. Stick to your guns and
develop thick skin, and you can win people to the side of truth.
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