How to Stage a
"Picture Perfect" Media Op
- Part One

It takes cooperation :-) - Radio reporter ready to roll

Five common myths about
SFPD media operations - Media Ops

Following on the smashing success of the July 25 Critical Mass ride, it's easy to fall under the incorrect assumption that media ops are easy to conduct successfully. On the contrary. Coordinating news people and police officers in order to achieve the desired media/political outcome is a significant logistical challenge.

  • Myth: Great media ops "just happen"

    Reality: Media ops require careful advanced planning. The training, deployment, and management of a dozen or so squads of riot equiped police officers is not a spur of moment decision.

  • Myth: Media ops are foolproof

    Reality: Things can and do go wrong on media ops.

    Examples of things that can go wrong include: a) unauthorized cameras and eye witnesses distorting the SFPD version of events with photographic evidence and b) failure to give media proper time to set up their equipment and/or sufficient motivation to run the story.

  • Myth: The media may "see through" a media op and report the mechanisms of media ops to the public

    Reality: Not a realistic concern.

    Long experience has shown that the likelihood of this happening is extremely remote. There's no single recorded incident of a responsible media outlet behaving in such an unprofessional way. Even an experienced press photographer in the middle of a situation that is less than "picture perfect" can usually be counted on to sit on "confusing" footage

  • Myth: Media ops are a waste of city resources.

    Reality: Nothing could be further from the truth!

    Media ops such as the one we will be decribing in this tutorial kill two birds with one stone: the media op itself and the psycho-social impression made on onlookers, participants, and the police officers themselves. Think of it as a kind of guerilla theater, an opportunity to demonstrate through movement and costumes the atittude of our mayor towards the American tradition of democracy and free speech.

  • Myth: Media ops are hazardous.

    Reality: Yes and no.

    Certainly hazardous to people on the wrong side of the police line, but rarely hazardous to police officers themselves or holders of police department-authorized press credentials. Given legal safeguards, liability consequences for individual officers are exceedingly rare and can be neutralized through any number of readily available means.

    Winner - The 1997 Richard J. Daley Award


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