Showing posts with label jerry lewis. Show all posts
Showing posts with label jerry lewis. Show all posts

Tuesday, August 21

Redefining Reporter Finesse: Steve Friess

The last time I saw Jerry Lewis, it was years ago and in passing at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas. Most people didn’t recognize him because he’s an unassuming traveler. There was no entourage. There was no fanfare. He was in a wheelchair; the medication he was on at the time was less than kind.

He is good to his fans; it is not impossible to write him a nice letter and receive an autographed picture on request. He personally donates funds to the MDA and as most people know, he is the MDA national chairman and will be leading the Jerry Lewis MDA Labor Day Telethon.

But credentialed local freelance writer Steve Friess wanted to write about something different. So Lewis’ publicist Rick Saphire passed, mentioning that Lewis had a sizable fee unless the interview was related exclusively to MDA. Friess, in turn, wrote about his experience on his blog, which has since landed over at The Huffington Post.

Yesterday, Saphire was fired. Lewis agreed to the interview. His team noted that the fee was never intended for mainstream U.S. media, but merely an attempt to cut down on the number of international interview requests. Some celebrities, as you might imagine, could make a full-time job of doing nothing but interviews.

Most people seem to be celebrating Friess securing the interview out of the misunderstanding. In truth, it seems to me only Lewis handled this right. Saphire might have known the facts, which makes me wonder why he was on the payroll. Yet, Saphire wasn’t the only one mistaken.

As seasoned as Friess is, with by-lines appearing in USA Today and Newsweek (among others), he knows well enough that interviews are almost never so restricted. Our credits include the Los Angeles Times and The Denver Post, and we know it: a little finesse during an interview can go a long way.

So where does all this drama lead social media? When freelance writers cannot get the interview they want, is the appropriate action to publicize the rejection? I hope not. It seems brutish to me. Not to mention, the rejection seems to be getting a lot more mileage for Friess than the update. And, unfortunately, that comes at Lewis’ expense.

Simply put, Friess could have contacted the MDA publicity team, arranged the interview, and had a different experience all together with no harm done. Instead, it seems to me that he set out to teach the publicist a public lesson, and mirroring yesterday’s story, that seems to say a lot about his reporting style. It also seems to demonstrate once again that news creation is alive and well in Las Vegas.


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