Don’t simply focus on a great answer to the question

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs got in a little fight with April Ryan of American Urban Radio today because in effect she was asking a series of tabloid questions about the recent state dinner (you can watch the exchange here).  Whether you think he was right or wrong for cutting her off in the way he did, you can’t help but realize that the questions a press corps asks will inevitably shape the stories we read.  If Robert Gibbs had indulged April Ryan and talked about the state dinner for a few minutes it would have edged out another question from another reporter.  It made me wonder if there should be a system by which we vote on which questions the media plan on asking at these meetings so we can be sure administrations are being asked the right questions.  Of course that would be stupid and open to all manner of abuse.  But it made me realize that in PR we tend to measure the outputs from questions and often assume the media will ask the right questions.  By only focusing on influencing the answers to questions, we are missing out an important part of the process. Getting the media (social or otherwise) to ask the questions we believe are most important is the where the other half of the battle should be fought.

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