Archive for the ‘Media’ Category

It Gets Curiouser and Curiouser

It gets curiouser and curiouser.

Donald Trump Shouting, You're Fired © Can Stock Photo doddisPresident Trump fired FBI Director James Comey over something he did months ago, which Trump praised at the time. Comey was not informed of his firing by the president, but instead found out about it when news broke on a TV screen behind him while addressing agents in Los Angeles. President Trump denied the firing had anything to do with the investigation into Russia’s interference with the 2016 U.S. elections, but made sure to reference the investigation in his statement. He did not reference the supposed reason for the firing, however. The next day, he met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in the Oval Office. The U.S. media was blocked from attending the meeting, but a photographer for the state-owned Russian media outlet Tass was allowed in.

Press Secretary Sean Spicer was left to literally hide in the bushes because he was not given ample warning of Comey’s ouster so he wasn’t prepared to address it.

In other news, a reporter was arrested for “yelling questions” at Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price.

And the president wonders why the latest Quinnipiac University poll, taken before the latest misstep, shows his disapproval rating at 58%, with 51% strongly disapproving and 56% saying he lacks good leadership skills. (Fifty-seven percent trust the media over the president to tell the truth, by the way.)

Tom Pfeifer is the managing partner and chief strategist for Consistent Voice Communications and author of Write It, Speak It: Writing a Speech They’ll APPLAUD! Reach him at

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3 Tips for Conducting an Interview for Publication

Al Gore had just invented the Internet when I landed my first journalism gig, but it was not yet widely available to the public. While the technology since then has made it easier in some respects to prepare and conduct an interview, the basic skills have remained the same. Here are three tips for conducting an interview that have not changed over the past three decades even as the technology has.

Research first


Microfiche Reader/Image by Wesley Fryer

In the dark ages, newspapers had morgues where dead stories and photographs were stored and indexed according to subject, date, and people. A librarian kept track of the archives and if a reporter needed historical information on a person or event, the librarian tracked it down. Larger newspapers kept files on microfiche or microfilm, in which newspaper pages were miniaturized on a flat film (microfiche) or a rolled film (microfilm). Journalists used a reader to enlarge and read the files.  Scribes at smaller papers drove to the local library to scan the micro files. It was very time-consuming and not something easily accomplished for a breaking news story.

Microfiche is still in use, though it’s harder to find the film and machines to produce and read them, according to three document-scanning company blogs I read to research this musing. As late as 2009, the Gainesville Times was even reporting some organizations found micro files to be superior storage devices over digital.

I still use my local library for research, though I haven’t touched a microfiche machine in decades. But I believe I’m in the majority by using the Internet to perform most of my profile research these days.

I currently write articles mostly for associations and other non-profits. When I receive an assignment to interview a subject, I always start by checking their LinkedIn profile. Many of my subjects are professionals and have a LinkedIn presence. I peruse their work history and see if they have any published articles listed. A caveat here is many people do not keep their profiles updated. It’s not unusual to find a previous employer listed as the current employer or out-of-date credentials.

I then look for a Facebook and Twitter presence. Facebook is great for getting a feel for the whole person beyond their professional accomplishments. Right after the Chicago Cubs won the World Series, I was asked to interview someone whose Facebook page screamed “Happy Cubs Fan.” By congratulating her for “her” victory, I was able to instantly develop a rapport and conduct a friendly, productive interview.

After I exhaust social media possibilities, I conduct a Google search. I often find stories about awards the person has won that pertain to the subject matter or articles they have written about the subject matter. If you have access to Lexis-Nexis, you can find peer-reviewed articles that are often hidden behind firewalls.

Prepare questions

Female journalist taking notesOnce you have researched the interviewee and possibly the subject matter, write up some prepared questions. Writing for organizational magazines is different from writing for a media outlet. As a journalist, it’s akin to committing a felony to allow sources to review your story prior to publication, although some outlets allow you to run direct quotes by the sources. In nonprofit writing, it’s routine to allow sources to read and correct stories before submission. For that reason, I often email my prepared questions to the interviewee a few days before the interview. Unless they thrive on attention, they most likely do not have much experience being interviewed and will be thankful for the time to prepare. Be sure you know what the rules of the publication are on this point before you take or don’t take action.

Once you’re in the interview, don’t strictly adhere to your prepared questions. Ask follow-up questions. Ask a question that pops up in your head. Ask for clarity. Ask for embellishment. Be curious. Who is this person and why does he or she think or act this way?

Ask one final question

The final question I ask in every interview is often the most important and one that is never shared in advance with my subject: “Is there anything I didn’t ask you that I should have?”

Most times, the subject responds with, “No. I don’t think so. Those were pretty good questions.” What follows then is 15 to 20 minutes of something near and dear to their heart that often becomes the nut of the story. Why? Because no matter how much research you do before an interview, you still only know the surface of the person.  You don’t fully know what’s inside their head. Give them the opportunity to tell you and you’ll be wonderfully surprised.

These three tips have served me well over the years. What would you add to the list?

Tom Pfeifer is the managing partner and chief strategist for Consistent Voice Communications and author of Write It, Speak It: Writing a Speech They’ll APPLAUD! Reach him at

Media Musings: Have a heart. Eat nuts to save society.

Editor’s note: This is another in my series of monthly musings on the news, published on the Sunday following the last Saturday of each month, except when it’s not.


© 2014 Tom Pfeifer

Current as of Dec. 26, 2014


Just 40 percent of Americans eat nuts on a daily basis, according to a new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Drawing of an acorn with crazy eyesI can understand that. Nuts have gotten a bad rap. Turn on the television, open a newspaper, or watch your “friends” on Facebook and the prevalence of nuts is clear. It can seem cannibalistic to have a nut craving. But a case can be made that eating nuts are not only healthy for us as individuals, but for society as a whole. I hope to make that case here.

Let’s begin by looking at some of the nuts who walk among us and decide if they are not tasty little critters after all.

We start with Dr. Mehmet Oz, a syndicated talk show host billed as “America’s doctor.” According to a study published in the British Medical Journal this month, the doctor is a quack. More than half of Dr. Oz’s televised medical recommendations are prescriptions for disaster.

“Consumers should be skeptical about any recommendations provided on television medical talk shows, as details are limited and only a third to one half of recommendations are based on believable or somewhat believable evidence,” the paper stated.

If Dr. Oz is a nut, though, what about his patients? Nearly 3 million Americans watch The Dr. Oz Show every day. It’s one of the top five talk shows in the United States. Certainly the audience should be shelled and their meat exposed for consumption too.

Voters fall into that mass cracked shell category. Joseph Morrissey knows that well. Morrissey has been jailed for fisticuffs and had lost his law license for a decade. But the voters keep voting him in. His last office was that of a Virginia delegate. His last offence was to have an alleged sexual relationship with a 17-year-old intern in his state office, who now is suspected of carrying his child. I say alleged because he pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor while still denying guilt.

The 57-year-old received a six-month work release sentence, which meant he could have been making sausage in the capital during the day while spending his nights in jail. But Morrissey did the honorable thing and resigned his seat. Subsequently, he declared himself a candidate in the special election to replace him. Will the nuts congregate in the bowl and send one of their own back to the statehouse?

Serial 911 caller Martha Rigsby proves that all the nuts in the nation’s capital don’t work in the nation’s Capitol. Rigsby had been averaging seven ambulance rides a month. Determined to lower the lights-and-sirens rate, the court appointed Rigsby a guardian. After the appointment, Rigsby’s ride rate shot up to 13 a month.

This month, Rigsby was hauled before Judge Erik P. Christian, deputy presiding judge of the Washington, D.C., Superior Court probate division. Enter Demetric Pearson, who seems to be a peach of a guy, even if he’s son of a pear. Pearson and Rigsby dated five years ago for about two weeks. Since then they have been friends. Pearson regularly takes Rigsby shopping and on other errands. It was in that capacity that he happened to be at the courthouse when Rigsby appeared before Judge Christian.

Being Christian, the judge couldn’t fathom why Rigsby and Pearson couldn’t spend even more time together in the hopes that their togetherness would create sparks rather than lights and sirens. Pearson, being among the 60 percent of Americans who don’t eat nuts, prefers to keep their relationship platonic. After the hearing, he admitted to being shell-shocked at the judge’s suggestion.

“He can’t force me into a relationship,” Pearson told The Washington Post. Nuttier things have happened, Son of Pear.

Those are a just sampling of nuts served up in the news this month. Now for the nutritional value.

Nuts of the vegetative variety are known to lower the risk of heart disease. They are high in protein, nutrients, and calories. Just a handful a day is all you need.

Nuts of the hominid variety are also high in protein, particularly the muscles. The brain is high in fat and glucose, and therefore a great source of energy. Humans are said to taste like pork, and who doesn’t like bacon? Although the federal government has failed to issue recommended servings, I suggest you ingest heavily to deplete the surplus population.

Eat some nuts today. The life and society you save may be your own.



Brittain, Amy. “D.C. judge resorts to matchmaking in effort to end 30 years of 911 calls.” The Washington Post. 20 December 2014.

Brown, Lauren. “10 Things You Always Wondered About Cannibalism.” Business Insider. 31 May 2012.

McCoy, Terrence. “Half of Dr. Oz’s medical advice is baseless or wrong, study says.” The Washington Post. 19 December 2014.

Sun, Lena H. “Only four in 10 Americans eat nuts. Here’s why that’s a problem.” The Washington Post. 22 December 2014.

Vozzella, Laura, and Weiner, Rachel. “Del. Joseph Morrissey resigns in wake of conviction — and promises to run again.” The Washington Post. 18 December 2014.

Tom Pfeifer is the managing partner and chief strategist for Consistent Voice Communications. Reach him at

Media Musings: Uptick in ticks when Dating Naked

Editor’s note: This is another in my series of monthly musings on the news, published on the Sunday following the last Saturday of each month, except when it’s not.


© 2014 Tom Pfeifer

Current as of August 30, 2014


I’m writing this naked. That’s why the words are blurred. If your eyes are ogling this essay and it’s not blurred, I’m going to sue WordPress for allowing my naked thoughts to be so provocatively displayed.

No sex on beach insigniaThat has to be the thinking behind Dating Naked star Jessie Nizewitz’s suit against Viacom and two production companies. She’s suing them for not blurring the front of her behind while wrestling her date in her birthday suit. No one has a right to see her naked when she’s dating naked and wrestling naked on a naked beach.

By the way, if you haven’t seen the pictures, Nizewitz looked hot! Not scorch-birds-in-mid-air hot, though. To be scorch-birds-in-mid-air hot you need to be a BrightSource Energy plant in the Mojave Desert. And a BrightSource she’s not.

BrightSource planted 300 garage-size, solar energy mirrors in the desert to bring environmentally friendly energy to Los Angeles and Las Vegas. These mirrors are so hot that federal wildlife investigators report an average of one bird every two minutes lights up in a puff of smoke as they attempt to fly over them. Plant workers call the flying flamers “streamers.” Thousands of birds a year disintegrate in puffs of smoke. Not all take a direct hit, of course. Some just have their feathers burned away, which makes them streaking streamers and more akin to chicks wrestling naked on the sand. Others that don’t take a direct hit merely have their gooses cooked.

If that doesn’t bug you, what if you had a cooked goose but couldn’t eat it because you got ticked off? Or ticked on, to be more accurate.

The tick in question is the Lone Star tick. Meat-eaters bitten by the Lone Star tick develop a meat allergy. Which would be fine, if the tick really was a Lone Star tick. Texas could use a few more laid back vegans. But you won’t find it in Texas. It’s an eastern bug. One Long Island, New York, allergist confirmed 200 cases. Within hours of being bitten, victims develop a high sensitivity to meat. One victim couldn’t even eat raspberry-filled pastries because the artificial flavoring contains a chemical made from the anal scent glands of the North American beaver. Come to think of it, I’ve given up raspberry-filled pastries too.

Colorado has been bugged by an uptick in children being hospitalized after eating marijuana-laced goodies. That led to a proposal to limit the active pot ingredient in food products and to ensure the labels clearly state these are not toddler treats. These treats are reserved for mommies and daddies with toddlers.

And if Mommy and Daddy still get the munchies after munching marijuana morsels, they can pig out on a bag of potato chips. Just be careful what you say around that bag of chips. MIT researchers have developed a tool to listen in on conversations by recording the vibrations your speech makes on the bag. It’s not just your paranoia after all. Being afraid of a 9-year-old girl shooting an Uzi? That’s unfounded paranoia. Being afraid of a bag of potato chips? That’s just good sense.

And good sense is rampant in that state where marijuana possession for personal use is still illegal: California. Proving that you can go so far left to be on the right, California has devised an ingenious new abstinence program for college campuses. Under the pending law, to have sex, the couple would have to explicitly agree to the undertaking. It’s called the affirmative consent standard and colleges and universities would have to incorporate it to be eligible for federal funding. Some have interpreted the law as requiring “students to agree to a verbal or written contract before sex.”

“Sign here and here, andAnonymous couple signing contract initial here and here. OK, good. I’ll have it notarized and we’re good to wrestle naked on the beach.”

But wait. The language also requires mutual consent “ongoing throughout the sexual activity.”

“Um, we’ve been at it for five minutes now. We need to re-up the contract.”

Men with premature ejaculation issues would be exempt from this provision.

It’s just not worth it. I’m getting dressed now. This column just doesn’t turn me on anymore.


This column is dedicated to the memory of Robin Williams. We had some good laughs, didn’t we?


Coffman, Keith. Reuters. “Colorado’s edible pot facing proposed tighter rules on packaging, potentcy.” The Washington Post. 3 August 2014.

Feltman, Rachel. “MIT researchers can listen to your conversation by watching your potato chip bag.” The Washington Post. 4 August 2014.

Locher, John. The Associated Press. “Emerging solar plants scorch birds in mid-air.” WTOP. 18 August 2014.

Sullivan, Gail. “California bill defines what it means to say ‘yes’ to sex.” The Washington Post. 29 August 2014.

Sullivan, Gail. “Firing-range instructor hands 9-year-old an Uzi. Now he’s dead.” The Washington Post. 27 August 2014.

Talmon, Noelle. “‘Dating Naked’ Star Files Lawsuit After VH1 Fails To Blur Her Private Parts.” Starpulse. 22 August 2014.

Tom Pfeifer is the managing partner and chief strategist for Consistent Voice Communications. Reach him at

Media Musings: Catty Klingon fowl downed Malaysian jet

Editor’s note: This is another in my series of monthly musings on the news, published on the Sunday following the last Saturday of each month, except when it’s not.


© 2014 Tom Pfeifer

Current as of July 26, 2014


Artist's rendering of an airliner crashing into a man's forehead

© Can Stock Photo Inc. / Whiteisthecolor

When Malaysia Flight 17 crashed in the Ukraine, the rebels were struck by a lack of blood tainting the wreckage. The passengers, in fact, had been dead several days before the crash, according to Russian media.

We know that isn’t true, of course. What is true is that U.S. President Obama ordered Russian President Putin to down the plane because Swedish scientist Hauteir Hokes, an expert on chemtrails, had proof that airliner exhaust was tainted with government-added mind control substances. The other passengers were collateral damage.

Which may or may not be true. But what is true is that Russia has invaded American homes with feline spies. One blew its cover recently. Kush, a Russian blue, attacked its owners, Teresa and James Gregory, in their Florida home. The attack was so vicious that the Gregorys retreated to their bedroom, where they called 911. Kush was taken away. According to mainstream media accounts, the cat was taken to an animal shelter for 10 days of observation before being returned to the couple. My impeccable sources, however, tell me that the so-called “animal shelter” was actually a re-education center run by the Russian mob.

Mainstream media, of course, is part of the cover-up, which is why they failed to disclose the all-important occupations of Teresa and James Gregory. My sources tell me they work on a supersensitive and super-secret NSA human behavior-modification program and have been known to bring documents home with them, where Kush had easy access. They have stopped that practice and, once the Russians released Kush from the re-education center, the Gregorys had her sexual organs removed as punishment.

Mainstream media, while intimating the Ukrainian rebels are demented, also are covering up the fact that the rebels suffer from dementia. The proof is in the pictures from the crash site, where the rebels are pictured wandering around the wreckage strewn with rotting corpses and making no attempt to cover their noses. Researchers have discovered that a decreased sense of smell is an early indication of dementia. The researchers used scratch and sniff tests for their studies, but crash and sniff tests are just as effective.

What really stinks, however, is the Malaysians shot down their own plane. They did so because most of the passengers were Dutch. Having the geographic knowledge of the average American, Malaysian authorities thought the Dutch are from Denmark, because, after all, both start with D. Denmark, of course, is the largest pork-consuming nation on the planet. Malaysians eat no pork. They do, however, eat a lot of chicken, which is on its way to outpacing pork as the most consumed animal. According to my sources, by taking out the Dutch, they hoped to drive up the demand for chicken and capitalize on the growing chicken industry.

The real culprit, of course, is not the chickens. It’s Kush and his cushy friends. Ever wonder why cat videos are so popular on the Internet? Mind control. We’re naturally drawn to cats, one University of Kent philosopher proposes, because they look like human babies—“their big eyes, smallish noses, and dome-shaped heads trigger the evolutionary nurturing instincts that we have evolved toward babies.” This makes them perfect foils for the sort of mind control the Gregorys have been working on at the NSA. When Kush realized she and her kind were being used, she rebelled.

But Kush’s rebellion comes too late. The Internet mind-control program has been fully implemented. Scopes confirms this, as well as confirming that Ukrainian rebels are actually the descendants of Klingons who crash-landed here 300,000 years ago. We refer to them even today as Neanderthals. The destruction of MH17 was an evolutionary act. Still reeling from being abandoned by their ancestors, they believed they were shooting down the mother ship.

You’re reading this on the Internet, aren’t you? Then it must be true.



Associated Press. “Couple bringing crazed cat home after calling 911.” WTOP. 19 July 2014.

“Countries Compared by Lifestyle > Food and drink > Pork > Consumption per capita. International Statistics at” USDA Census of Agriculture. Aggregates compiled by NationMaster. Accessed 27 July 2014.

Demirjian, Karoun. “Russians have many theories about the MH17 crash. One involves fake dead people.” The Washington Post. 22 July 2014.

Ferdman, Roberto A. “The coming global domination of chicken.” The Washington Post. 14 July 2014.

Kunkle, Fredrick. “Alzheimer’s researchers hunt for new tools to identify disease’s onset.” The Washington Post. 13 July 2014.

Stein, Perry. “Why Do Cats Run the Internet? A Scientific Explanation.” New Republic. 1 March 2012.

Tom Pfeifer is the managing partner and chief strategist for Consistent Voice Communications. Reach him at

Media Musings: Throw the bums back in

Editor’s note: This is another in my series of monthly musings on the news, published on the Sunday following the last Saturday of each month, except when it’s not.


© 2014 Tom Pfeifer

Current as of June 28, 2014


Eagle clutching American flag with an I Voted sticker on it, perched on a shelf of American history booksA Seattle anesthesiologist had his license suspended because he sent nearly 250 sexually explicit texts during surgeries. He probably will run for public office.

In Maryland, you can’t run for office unless you have skeletons in your closet. On the ballot this month was a state House delegate who was convicted of driving a car and a boat while drunk; a county official accused of misspending, plagiarism, and assault; and a state senator who was censured by colleagues for using his office for private gain.

My favorite though is the state Senate candidate who is on probation for breaking election laws—and may have his probation revoked for running for office.

General Motors is recalling 29,000 Cruze model Chevys because of faulty airbags. But we don’t recall U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz and his 434 fellow members of Congress because they are faulty airbags.

Oh sure, there are the exceptions. Rabid Republican Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia, then the House majority leader, was trounced from the right by an unknown Tea Partier. And most of the Maryland scoundrels lost their bids for election or re-election.

But on average, 90 percent of members of Congress who seek re-election win. Some hope the tide will turn this year. After all, 22 percent of Americans polled by Gallup in April believe members of Congress do not deserve to be reelected, the lowest percentage recorded in an election year—except for January when the number was 17 percent. But that’s Congress as a whole. When asked about their specific incumbent, 50 percent support their member of Congress’s reelection.

For comparison, in 1992, 29 percent of Americans believed members of Congress as a whole should be reelected. Eighty-eight percent of them were.

Why the disconnect? Scientists have found the answer, as scientists always do. It was found in the 1946 Three Stooges movie The Three Troubledoers, when Moe asks Larry and Curley, “Are we mice or men?” Larry and Curley’s answer: “Mice!” And so we are.

Using electric-shock therapy, researchers proved the theory of learned helplessness. First they enclosed a group of mice in a room with no chance of escape and lit them up. Then they opened a door and electrified the room again. While most of the mice said, “I’m out of here,” 20 percent endured the shock in a whimpering ball rather than take the escape. The mice acted as if nothing they could do would change their situation, and so they did nothing.

Voting for an incumbent under the banner, “Throw the bums out,” is learned helplessness. Possibly worse is not voting at all, which is the learned-helplessness course taken by more than 46 percent of the voting age population in the 2012 election.

What’s an electorate to do? We could follow Pope Francis’ lead and excommunicate the mafiosi. That would only knock out about 30 percent of the Congress, but that’s still a lot more than we do through elections.

Or we could send them in search of public restrooms in DC’s Metro system. They’re there, but they’re hidden. It took a Washington Post reporter 20 minutes to find a useable one at the L’Enfant Plaza Metro station—with the station manager’s help. Members of Congress have perfected the art of investigating crap and getting lost in the process. If they’re stalled in the stalls they can do the country no harm. There are mirrors for reflected selfies but there’s no wi-fi by which to send them. And every day would be a travel day.

Or we can be anesthetized by sexually explicit selfies that no longer shock us and vote the bums back in. I’ll pick you up in my Chevy Cruze on the way to the polls.



“Three Stooges Quotes.” The Three Stooges Online Filmography. Accessed 28 June 2014.

Associated Press. “GM recalling more than 29,000 Cruzes to fix air bags.” The Washington Post. 26 June 2014.

Bever, Lindsey. “This might be a first: A Seattle doctor is suspended for sexting during surgery.” The Washington Post. 10 June 2014.

Fisher, Marc. “In Maryland, it’s electable scoundrels vs. unelectable rogues.” The Washington Post. 24 June 2014.

Jones, Jeffrey M. “Ahead of Midterms, Anti-Incumbent Sentiment Strong in U.S.” Gallup Politics. 14 May 2014.

Kim, Meeri. “Why are some depressed, others resilient? Scientists home in one part of the brain.” The Washington Post. 5 June 2014.

McDonald, Michael. “2012 General Election Turnout Rates.” George Mason University. Last updated 22 July 2013.

Pullella, Philip. “Pope Francis lambastes mobsters, says mafiosi ‘are excommunicated.’” The Washington Post. 21 June 2014.

St. Martin, Victoria. “On the hunt for the elusive Metro restroom.” The Washington Post. 7 June 2014.

Tom Pfeifer is the managing partner and chief strategist for Consistent Voice Communications. Reach him at


Roll Call logo.

This was the lead in a Roll Call story posted yesterday evening:

“It’s a tale as old as time: From the moment a high-profile terrorist suspect is snagged, the partisan fight is renewed over whether terrorism suspects belong in the Guantanamo Bay detention facility in Cuba.”

Really? As old as time? 9/11 was only 13 years ago. Hardly as old as time. And no editor caught this?

I know English is hard, but it’s not that hard.

Tom Pfeifer is the managing partner and chief strategist for Consistent Voice Communications. Reach him at

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