We’re on our fourth week of this class and I’m already sick of the phrase “you’ll have to talk to our press office.” As soon as someone says that, I know that I’m either not going to get information or I’m going to get the very bare minimum. And that are minimum will be information that makes the group look good, so usually it’s not very useful anyway.
Last week, a co-worker mentioned to me that Senator Roy Blunt’s office was moving. The context it was mentioned in made it seem as if the office was possibly moving because of the large number of protests that have taken in place outside the office since President Trump’s inauguration. The Missourian decided to look into whether or not that was true. Of course, when a reporter called, they were referred to the press office. And when they called the press office, they were told that the office had no announcements about a move at this time and that they would have to wait for a press release. I called back a few days later and was given the same message.
In my opinion, constituents have a right to know if their senator’s office is moving and to where. It was frustrating to try and get confirmation about something someone told me and be told that they weren’t announcing anything at this time. Once Sen. Blunt’s office referred me to the press line, I had a feeling I wasn’t going to get any information. The same thing happened yesterday, when I was reporting on a protest against Secretary of Education nominee Betsy DeVos outside of his office. We went in and asked how many letters from protestors had been turned in, and were again referred to the press line, who of course didn’t give me any information when I called. I’m realizing pretty quickly that press offices have a tendency to not give you the information you need when you’re a journalist, unfortunately.