What’s Smart About Banning News Agencies from Press Briefings?

2017-03-01 by Ronn Torossian

Sean Spicer - Public Relations News

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer recently blocked a few news agencies from a press briefing. The action caused a furor in the press, especially those whose reporters were banned … The New York Times, Politico, CNN, BuzzFeed, and The Washington Post among them. In fact, the briefing was an “invite only” off-camera session.

Those agencies represented included conservative news outlets, including  Breitbart, Fox News, the Washington Times, and One America News Network. Also invited were several of the middle-of-the-road media outlets such as ABC, CBS, NBC, and The Wall Street Journal. As a show of solidarity, Time and members of the Associated Press chose to skip the briefing, even though they were invited.

But the move on Spicer’s part drew flak from some unexpected sources as well. More than one person from Fox News didn’t like it and spoke against the ban, even though they did not boycott the briefing. The White House said it was meant as an expanded “pool” briefing and that there are more than 3,000 accredited news sources in the White House press corps and for this meeting, there was a very limited number of spots. The “pool” idea is that those who are in attendance go and then disseminate the information to the rest of the media organizations. Because they had more room than the usual pool group of 13, they issued a limited number of additional invitations for the “gaggle” event.

Now, what good can come out of this move? At the moment, it may be difficult to find the silver lining, but the nation currently seems to be in a ban and boycott mode. The polarization of America becomes more extreme every time a new boycott or ban happens, but to those participating, they seem just and necessary.

President Trump and his people have been declaring “unfair” over press coverage well before the end of the election process. And many of those voting for him are in complete agreement. From the opposite side of the aisle, even though some media organizations have admitted to some bias, they flatly deny any “fake news” allegations.

As a people, we need free press, but since many polls show that more people disbelieve the press than the President, this may be a time for members of the press and their organizations to take a step back, refocus on news away from politics for a time, and avoid the sensationalism that people feel is out of control.

And from Donald Trump’s White House, banning or excluding members of the press corps for smaller meetings such as the one at the end of February should at least allow them to get through all the business needing to be discussed without constant interruptions and accusations. It’s not all good, but there are shining possibilities if both sides can figure out a way to more productive press sessions.

About Ronn Torossian

Ronn Torossian is the Founder and CEO of 5W Public Relations. He is an experienced leader in the public relations industry with over 20 years of experience. Ronn Torossian has been named as Public Relations executive of the year by the American Business Awards, and has run countless award-winning Public Relations programs.

ronn torossian 5wpr ceo

Ronn Torossian: Insights from a Native New Yorker and CEO of 5WPR

Ronn Torossian is the founder and CEO of 5W Public Relations, one of the largest independently-owned PR firms in the United States. With over 20 years of experience crafting and executing powerful narratives, Torossian is one of America's most prolific and well-respected Public Relations professionals. Since founding 5WPR in 2003, he has led the company's growth, overseeing more than 200 professionals in the company's headquarters in midtown Manhattan. With clients spanning corporate, technology, consumer and crisis, in addition to digital marketing and public affairs capabilities, 5WPR is regularly recognized as an industry leader and has been named "PR Agency of the Year" by the American Business Awards on multiple occasions. Throughout his career, Torossian has worked with some of the world's most visible companies, brands and organizations. His strategic, resourceful approach has been recognized with numerous awards including being named the Stevie American Business Awards 2020 Entrepreneur of the Year, the American Business Awards PR Executive of the Year, twice over, an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year semi-finalist, Metropolitan Magazine's Most Influential New Yorker, a 2020 Top Crisis Communications Professional by Business Insider, and a recipient of Crain’s New York 2021 Most Notable in Marketing & PR. Torossian is known as one of the country's foremost experts on crisis communications, and is called on to counsel blue chip companies, top business executives and entrepreneurs both in the United States and worldwide. Torossian has lectured on crisis PR at Harvard Business School, appears regularly on CNN & CNBC, is a contributing columnist for Forbes and the New York Observer, and has authored two editions of his book, "For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results With Game-Changing Public Relations," which is an industry best-seller. A NYC native, Torossian lives in Manhattan with his children. He is a member of Young Presidents Organization (YPO), and active in numerous charities