The Press Conference In The Age of Twitter…And Trump
and now, the news…
A few months ago, I left a package in the overhead compartment on a Delta Flight.
You know how it is. You arrive, you scramble to get off the plane, and then, in the taxi, you realize, ‘where is the package? It’s in the overhead’.
When I got home, I called Delta. I gave them the flight number and the seat number and I assumed they would find the package with little trouble. They said they would call back.
They never did.
Days went by. I made lots of calls. Nothing.
Then, I tweeted @Delta about how bad the customer service was. How they could not find my package. About how terrible Delta was. I kept tweeting. I also added #Delta, just for good measure.
Amazingly, after about 6 or 7 tweets, Delta called me. The package had been found!
That Twitter thing really works.
That’s what I discovered with Delta. That’s also what Donald Trump discovered. Except he discovered it with the Presidency. I got my package, he got the White House.
Journalists, wise up. There is a lesson here.
Last week, Donald Trump held his first ‘press conference’ in six months.
No one knows when or if he will hold the next one.
Watching the Press Conference on television was like watching a Reality TV Show, except a bad one. In this one, all the contestants, more than 100 of them, are crammed into a small room and given a limited amount of time for the chance to ask one question (or multiple one-question) of the host, who could then decide if he wanted to answer them or not. It’s a very 1990s concept for TV.
Of the more than 100 contestants (journalists) in attendance, only a small handful even got to ask their question, which was barely even answered.
There were a few moments of ‘entertainment’, as when Trump refused to take a question from CNN’s Jim Acosta, calling CNN a ‘fake’ news organization, but overall, it was pretty much a complete waste of time.
These press conferences are old school TV, a remnant from an earlier and simpler era. Time and technology have moved on, but the news business has not. Sad, as we might tweet.
The news business might take a lesson from Donald Trump. He used Twitter to bypass the media and go directly to the public. It worked. (He got elected, didn’t he?)
Now it is time for journalists to wise up.
Instead of waiting six months for the President to decide that he wants to have a ‘press conference’; instead of allowing him to dominate the content of the conference; instead of sitting and being demeaned and begging to get your question called upon like some over anxious and annoying 5th grade student (call on me!!!), it is time to take the control of the journalism.
Twitter, in case you did not notice, goes both ways. It is an open platform. And @Realdonaldtrump is a direct doorway to Donald Trump, (and an audience of about 20 million people).
Content on Twitter flows both ways – from Trump to the public, but it also flows from the public to Trump.
Instead of waiting for six months for the chance to be a part of the Donald Trump Humiliates The Press TV Show, journalists with a question for the President should just Tweet is to him.
Any time they have a question.
Every time they have a question, which should be fairly often.
Tweet your questions all the time. Every day. Every hour. Every minute. Just like I did with Delta.
Instead of waiting six months for the chance, maybe, to be called up (if he so deigns to do so), fire away with your questions. “When are you going to release your taxes?”
And don’t just tweet it once. Tweet it until you get an answer. And don’t stop until you do. Tweet it a hundred times if you have to.
This whole idea of televised press conferences is an archaic remnant of another time – one before the Internet and one before social media. Forget it! Go directly to the source. Get aggressive. Instead of yelling your questions across the tarmac at an airport, #Poundthepresident with your questions until you get them answered!
Now, what is really interesting here is that this advice is not just limited to journalists. Anyone can tweet their questions to the President, at any time.
Anyone. (Now THAT’S what I call a Free Press!)
Remember those old ‘Town Hall Debates’ that the networks used to run during the Presidential Debates way back in 2016? You know they fill a room with 100 ‘randomly selected citizens’, and than about, what, oh, three or four get to ‘ask’ a question of the candidates? Remember those? All a bit like the Press Conference TV show. Terrible.
So, average citizen, do you have a question for the President of the United States today? (I bet you do!) Tweet it. Tweet it like my lost package. Tweet it until you get an answer.
There are, I would bet, about 60 million or so angry Americans who might have some very good questions they want to ask their President. Ask away. Ask until you get an answer.
He learned to use Twitter to go directly to you. Now you can use Twitter to go directly to him.
He’ll get the idea soon enough.