The Glamorous Life of a Journalist (WashTimes / FT / Weiner Dept.)

On the day Rep. Weiner resigned, I mentioned the press release I received from a PR firm. The sender, whose name I didn't give, was Jess Todtfeld, and he offered his insights on Weiner:

>>Are you looking for quotes on the Anthony Weiner resignation?

As a "Media Consultant," I have plenty to add on the topic....

Here are a few things I can say:
-Can he repair his image? He can never truly get past this story. He has mortally wounded his political career. But, that doesn't mean he can't star in a reality show or host a program on CNN.<<

I have therefore noted with admiration coverage of Weiner's chances in the Washington Times:

>>"Can he repair his image? He can never truly get past this story. He has mortally wounded his political career. But that doesn't mean he can't star in a reality show or host a program on CNN," says former Fox News producer Jess Todtfeld, now president of Success In Media, a Manhattan consultancy.<<

And in the Financial Times too:

>>"He can never truly get past this story," said Jess Todtfeld, president of Success In Media, a consultancy. "He has mortally wounded his political career. But that doesn't mean he can't star in a reality show."<<

Maybe I should start paying more attention to these press releases. Thanks to reader MV.

Update: for a different approach, see how Al Kamen of the Washington Post handled the press release. Today turns out to be my "admiring the WaPo" day.

Update-update: In response to a query, what exactly is my point? When a news story contains direct quotes, with the word "said," the implication is that the reporter talked with the person being quoted and got the info first-hand. If a press release is interesting enough, usually a reporter would call or email the source to get more information, or at least a new version of the quote. Sometimes it's not practical to do that -- but in those cases you'd expect to see "XX expert said, in a release sent to reporters" or "in a press release" or "according to a statement." Therefore, the WashTimes and FT stories apparently written off a press release, without saying so, are surprising.

Presented by

James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well. Bestselling author Mark Bittman teaches James Hamblin the recipe that everyone is Googling.

Video

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well.

Video

Before Tinder, a Tree

Looking for your soulmate? Write a letter to the "Bridegroom's Oak" in Germany.

Video

The Health Benefits of Going Outside

People spend too much time indoors. One solution: ecotherapy.

Video

Where High Tech Meets the 1950s

Why did Green Bank, West Virginia, ban wireless signals? For science.

Video

Yes, Quidditch Is Real

How J.K. Rowling's magical sport spread from Hogwarts to college campuses

Video

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

More in National

From This Author

Just In