Talking snakes do not have good reputations. Snake stories have not been pleasing to God since they appeared in the Garden of Eden. And if Florida A&M University hopes to improve its image, it must address the methods it has used to select and hire the modern-day Rattler storyteller.
With the resignation of President James Ammons, now is the time to select the best leader for FAMU and also the best media person to keep the university in a positive light.
Don’t take my word for it but the best information officers are not always hired by some universities. Oftentimes, the job of public information officer is seen as a patronage position. Experienced media professionals are not recognized, not sought after, not interviewed and rarely hired by colleges and universities that need improved coverage or better media relations.
Look it up. In college towns, the highest paid media person is the college information officer. They make more money than the disc jockey, more than the news writer and more than the TV or radio reporters.
You tell me: How can a university with an accomplished journalism or communication program not be able to find a solid information officer who is capable of cultivating good relations with newspapers, magazines, bloggers, Internet sites and television and radio station workers and owners?
Most black journalists don’t apply for jobs at universities. They would help black colleges and other institutions for free but they must be appreciated. They must be respected.
If you say, for instance, that black journalists in Florida are not influential but also say “I don’t like that writer or that reporter because he said or wrote something about my school,” such a scenario would be ridiculous. If no one read, saw or listened to black journalists or black media institutions, then you shouldn’t care or be concerned at all.
But the truth of the matter is that black journalists have won Pulitzer Prizes. Black journalists have been selected to appear in the Freedom of the Press section of America’s National Freedom Museum. Black journalists are well known authors and publishers.
But you still feel the white media ice is colder than the black media ice. You feel that the out-of-town media person is better than the local or regional media person. You feel that the word of the devil is history and the black man’s message is his-story.
If you hire a college president and the new president hires his friend, his girlfriend or his wannabe jump-off as a media expert, you will get the kind of press coverage that you deserve.
FAMU needs the very best university relations, public relations and Information team that it can put together. That group must be able to communicate and work with local, national, international and all other print and broadcast media outlets.
The story of the FAMU Rattlers is a story that needs to be told in the proper perspective, a story of history, tradition, success and truth. But it cannot be told by a snake like the biblical snake in Genesis that had devilish intent.
The position of president is crucial but the hiring of a strong media and information team is just as important to change the current image of FAMU.
Lucius Gantt is a consultant based in Tallahassee and author of the book Beast Too: Dead Man Writing. He may be reached at allworldconsultants.net, where you can also like The Gantt Report Facebook page.