You and the news media: A tip sheet for General Synod Members

Among other things, this General Synod will include a discussion of same-sex blessings, the election of a new Primate, a presentation on AIDS by Stephen Lewis and a sermon by Frank Griswold, Presiding Bishop of the U.S. Episcopal Church. It is reasonable to suppose that religious and secular media will be interested and want to attend some or all of this synod.

This has implications for you as General Synod members. Reporters will be around. Reporters get in the way. Reporters may want to talk to you and may ask you questions that you are ill-prepared to answer. They may ask you questions that you don’t want to answer.

Reporters have a job to do. Generally, most of them try to do their job as competently and as unobtrusively as possible. Most, but not necessarily all. Some reporters come to an event like General Synod having done their homework and with an idea of who the people are and what is going on. Some, but not all. All reporters work under deadline. That means that when they want something, they want it now. Most reporters are courteous enough not to interrupt proceedings and approach people who are otherwise occupied. Some, but not all.

Since it is a virtual certainty that in the nine days of General Synod, you will interact in some way with a journalist, and since many of you (but not all) will probably have little experience dealing with the media, we thought we would provide you with some pointers.

The first thing you should know is that help is available. General Synod Communications (members of General Synod staff who normally deal with the news media) have put together a team of people whose principal duties at General Synod will be to handle the media. There will be a newsroom, to which arriving reporters will be directed. Your first option, if approached by the press, could be to direct the reporter(s) to General Synod’s media relations professionals. These people are:

If (or when) you are approached by reporters, here are some things for you to keep in mind:

Being interviewed can be fun. It is flattering to be asked for your views. So relax, and have fun, but be careful. And if you get into trouble, remember that help is available.

Vianney (Sam) Carriere
Director, Communications and Information Resources