No Governor Rell on the news tonight

You won’t be seeing Governor Rell on Eyewitness News tonight, even though she is making headlines by vetoing two deficit bills put together by the Democrats.  

The vetoes were announced in a press release given to us around 3:30PM.   The vetoes were somewhat expected, so early this morning our assignment  editor Andy Wilkins put in a request for one of our crews to talk to Governor Rell.  Later assignment manager Dave Ward spoke to the Governor’s handlers and put in a similar request.  Reporter Katy Zachry, who was at the capitol covering the veto story, also asked to speak to the Governor.

Later we learned the Governor left her office at the Capitol at 2PM, yet the announcement of the vetoes wasn’t given to reporters until after she had left the building.  Why?     I guess no interview for Channel 3.

The governor’s staff instead e-mailed a recorded audio file of what we are told is the Governor Rell talking about the vetoes.    It does sound like her.       

In the past few days,  the Hartford Courant’s Rick Green and WNPR’s John Dankosky have written about the issues that some members of the media have been having with Governor Rell’s handlers, and their reluctance to have her be questioned.     Green  wrote that he put in a request to talk to the governor and did receive a phone call from her.    As one of the top journalists in our state, the Governor should be talking to him.    The Governor has been invited to take questions from listeners on WNPR, but as  Dankosky wrote a few days ago, the RSVP has been “no.”

Telephone interviews  do not work for television news.  If you see them on Channel 3, that usually means it is breaking news and our crew has not yet arrived at the scene.   We do a telephone interview as a last resort.   They make for bad television and we since we live in a small state and can have a camera anywhere in Connecticut in 90 minutes,  what is the point of talking on the phone when the camera can be there?  

There are two reasons that come to mind about why telephone interviews don’t work for television.   First, how would we explain to our viewers as to why we are interviewing the Governor on the phone?  Senator Dodd talks to us on camera,  so does Senator Lieberman, and these are two politicians who have a plethora of reasons to run the other way.    We interview dozens of people on camera every day.  President Obama holds news conferences and takes questions, why not the Governor?

Also, you learn quite a bit from body language.    Did Governor Rell appear angry when she vetoed the bill?  Did she seem lackadaisical?    Smiling?   We don’t know.   Was it a difficult decision to make?   There are so many things a television interview can show that a telephone interview cannot.    The governor  could be reading off prepared remarks over the phone.  She could do that on television, too, but you’d know about it.

Rest assured, we work for you, the viewers and we will continue to try to interview your governor about the budget crisis that is impacting your lives.

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4 Responses

  1. Hey Dennis your time stamp on your blog post is wrong. It says you posted at 10:09 p.m. tonight, but I’m certain you posted much earlier than that.

    Kudos to Channel 3 and your persistence to get the interview. You guys were parked outside the Capitol all day today. I can’t imagine how she was able to sneak past your crew.

  2. Christine, thanks for the heads up. I will fix the clock!

  3. [...] Capitol Before Veto; House Says TV News Will Keep Trying For Interview Jump to Comments More today from Channel 3’s Dennis House, on what’s become a more frequent practice – Governor Rell exiting early, without [...]

  4. As I responded to your similar blog last month, Gov. Rell’s media policy is to talk only with radio hosts who are friendly with her. She’s good with the banter and the jokes, but that’s it.

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