Monday, October 23, 2006

No Comment = I'm Guilty

During a recent media training session I wanted to make it cleNo Commentar  what message saying "No Comment" sent to the public, so I wrote the following on a white board:

No Comment = I'm Guilty

When a charge is leveled against you and your answer is no comment, everyone who reads/sees/hears that automatically assumes that you are hiding something and are therefore guilty as charged. I don't know which lawyer came up with that phrase, but it's time to rid it from the American lexicon.

Guess what? The media agrees with me. Check out a recent blog post from Lou Raguse on KELO-TV's Inside the Newsroom blog. In that post, he discusses a story he aired on a city counselor who settled a sexual harassment suit but maintains his innocence. Had that counselor declined to comment, everyone would have known about the settlement and naturally assumed that he did it. But since he went on camera to explain his side, the viewing public is forced to consider the possibility that he did settle only to avoid an expensive court fight.

Here's Lou's synopsis: There are two sides to every story. Too often only one side is willing to explain their position. Fortunately, that wasn't the case this time. Unfortunately, Lou also said that he usually gets a refusal to comment from those the "negative" side of an issue.

The next time you're confronted with bad news, try telling your side of the story. You never know. The public just might believe you. Alternatively, you could just let them know you're guilty and say "No Comment."

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