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The Answers Are No, Yes, And It Depends On What The Objective Is.

Saturday, March 8, 2008  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

The question from PrawfsBlog’s Joseph Slater:

I wonder if schools do any preparation or media training for law profs who do interviews with the press semi-regularly. I’m not talking about the media-savvy profs who do national press interviews on a regular basis. I’m talking about folks like me, more typical for law profs generally: in a mid-sized media market; called up by the local media several times a year and by the national media maybe once or twice a year; subjects range from questions directly within my expertise (“this new case held what, exactly?”); to at least within my general field, albeit not law related (“how long do you think this strike at GM is going to last?”); to broader questions on which, although I have something to say, my knowledge isn’t any better than that of lot of other folks (Le Monde’s first question was, “will any of the Presidential candidates be able to bring back jobs to Ohio?”).

My guess it that most law profs have sufficient intellectual and performance skills to avoid looking really stupid in interviews. In part, that’s because there is some overlap between media skills and being good in classroom and other public presentations. But it is different — you don’t control which part of what you say is used being the most obvious — and there are specific skills involved TV, radio, and press interviews.

So, my question is, do law schools do media training for their profs? If not, should they? If so, what do they do and/or what should they do?

I have watched or listen in amazement as law professors mangle interviews and leave their reputations dented, and their school’s reputation at best unimproved. On the other hand guests like John Eastman, Erwin Chemerinsky, Eugene Volokh and Glenn Reynolds routinely bring clarity and good natured debate to the airwaves and thus credit and visibility to their institutions.

Eventually AALS will get around to providing a seminar on this topic, but the schools should be thinking about Professor Slater’s questions whether the AALS is or not.

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