News Coverage – It’s a Beautiful Thing

Today’s Shelbyville Times Gazette has a good piece about Daryl Holtons recent date in court and the court’s declaration that he is, in fact, competent to waive his appeals. The piece takes a look at how our society misunderstands mental illness and features TCASK fairly prominently. I love it when we have a good media hit!

The media, obviously, play a huge role in shaping public perception of events, including executions. So a question we continually grapple with is, how do we get our message out there through media outlets that may not be friendly to the abolitionist position? One method is to become an informational resource for the media. We are experts on the Tennessee death penalty system, at least compared to news reporters who are asked to cover a bunch of different issues every day. So we have to make sure that we provide accurate information for reporters whenever they call us. That way, for instance, when there were 5 executions scheduled for June 28th, including Paul Dennis Reid and Sedley Alley, reporters would call us and ask how many of those were real dates. Another example leads us to the Shelbyville Times Gazette article referred to above. We get news out and we do it quickly. When the Holton decision was made on Tuesday, we had a press release out that afternoon. So at the same time as reporters were hearing about the decision on the wire, they were receiving, by email and fax, the TCASK press release with quotes and background information already there for them. If you’ve got it, use it!

And that brings us to the final point about news coverage: give them something to cover. The media wants stories that are interesting. So whenever you do an event, make sure there are good visuals for print and TV outlets. And we try to get a media advisory out which lets the media know that something worth covering will be happening. In the same way, w try to include a hook in our press releases, give them catchy titles and good concise quotes. And sometimes it pays off with good news stories that present our side of the issue.

Read the full Times Gazette article here.

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