Hi, I’m Lisa Greenberg, and I’m so excited to co-chair this committee with the brilliant John T. Hunter from San Antonio. We want to tell you what this committee is about, what we do, and why it matters to all the members of the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association.
As criminal defense lawyers, we tend to have a love/hate relationship with the media. The media has generally been unhelpful in educating the public about the facts of our cases or in helping prospective jurors keep an open mind. However, in a democratic society the media serves a very important role. It educates voters on issues they may care about at the polls. This is what elected officials care about most.
Many times, in courtrooms, egregious offenses, constitutional violations and unfair conduct may occur at the hands of elected officials such as judges, district attorneys and local sheriffs. However, without the media, the public may not know or care about such issues. The media gives us an outlet to reach large numbers of people and can inform them on key issues that are important to us. The media can also act as a watchdog to keep these occurrences from happening regularly or let elected officials know they are being watched.
The Media Relations Committee is made up of a large number of criminal defense attorney members in the State who can be the eyes and ears of our Organization on occurrences in local courtrooms, jails, etc. that may need some attention from the media and, in turn, scrutiny from the public.This committee is one of the largest that TCDLA has, with members from all areas of Texas to ensure every area is covered in case such an event occurs.
One of our tasks is to make sure we have an up-to-date database of media outlets so that when we vote as a committee to issue a press release, we can send the release out quickly to media contacts directly for coverage. We intend to maintain relationships with reporters, news bloggers, and other media sources to be able to access such contacts quickly and get a response. The second main task of our committee is to draft and send news releases. We will direct news releases to the public in a manner where the information is digested quickly and understood, and also rallies the support in the desired manner.
The third task of our organization is to follow up with reporters. Once interest is peaked with a news media outlet, there are bound to be questions or requests for comment. We need to make sure as an Organization our voice is heard loudly and clearly on issues that affect us, our clients, and their rights. We will try to have a point of contact for each area, or a person to direct inquiries to, who can answer these questions clearly and in a manner benefiting our cause.
The media has always been a double-edged sword for many of us in criminal defense. However, in the age of quick information, constant media headlines, and breaking news blaring at us from all different angles, it is important that our Organization has a committee designed to deal with important issues and have our say to the public about the many issues we are facing in our courtrooms, jails, and workplaces.