January 2020 Program Recap

January 2020 Program Recap

“Covering the Capitol” Journalist Panel & Breakfast with Panelists Gary Fineout, Lynn Hatter and Jeff Schweers and Moderator Rick Oppenheim, APR, CPRC
Friday, January 10, 2020 | 7:30 – 9 a.m.
Florida Health Care Association, 307 W. Park Ave.

Breakfast Sponsor: RB Oppenheim Associates & Digital Opps
Host Sponsor: Florida Health Care Association

Top Takeaways

  • Send an audio and/or video clip along with your news release.
  • Be thoughtful about how, and with whom, you place your organization’s or clients’ content.
  • Offer interviews with real people who are located where the reporter is based.
  • When pitching, answer the question, “Why should _____ care?”


We live in an exciting and also daunting time in which the communications industry is evolving before our eyes – faster than many of us can keep up. On Jan. 10, three veteran journalists spoke candidly to a packed house of public relations professionals during the FPRA Capital Chapter’s annual journalist panel moderated by Rick Oppenheim, APR, CPRC, of RB Oppenheim Associates. Jeff Schweers, Capital Correspondent for the USA TODAY NETWORK – Florida (@jeffschweers); Lynn Hatter, News Director at WFSU (@HatterLynn); and Gary Fineout with POLITICO Florida (@fineout) spoke at length about changes in the media landscape that continue to have significant and sometimes negative impacts on coverage of the Capitol and issues of statewide interest.

Dramatically reduced or dissolved staff, merging or folding of news operations, and a loss of institutional knowledge as veteran journalists retire, voluntarily or otherwise, have forever changed the media landscape in Florida and nationally. But like the technological advancements that ushered in the industrial revolution at the turn of the last century, shuttering textile mills and replacing skilled craftsmen, technology has revolutionized news gathering and brought with it challenges, opportunities and responsibilities. Jeff and Gary described how readers are typically required to subscribe to receive online content now, just as we used to pay for the privilege of having our newspapers delivered to our front doors. Coverage is determined by metrics – the number of clicks, the number of shares – and the lines between earned, owned and paid media continue to blur. Lynn talked about WFSU’s exploration of the use of “citizen journalists” to expand news coverage into areas a reduced staff can’t otherwise reach.

What can public relations professionals do in this evolving media environment to help ensure their clients’ stories are told?  Lynn recommended diversifying news releases to include audio and video clips as well as attributed quotes so time-constrained journalists have the necessary elements in hand to put at least some of the story together. Gary urged thoughtfulness in determining how, and with whom, you place your organization’s or clients’ content.

For photos of the event, check out our Facebook page. Thank you again to Breakfast Sponsor RB Oppenheim AssociatesDigital Opps, Host Sponsor the Florida Health Care Association and Printing Sponsor Gandy Printers.

– Victoria Heller (@vlangleyheller), CareerSource Florida (Member Since 2010)

January 2020 Journalist Panel