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Fenty snow briefings move around D.C., shutting out some media

During an emergency, government leaders often huddle at the emergency command center, which can serve not as only the nerve center for government but also a one-stop shop to get information out to the public through the media.

Over the weekend, for example, Maryland Gov. Martin J. O'Malley (D) was often seen giving live updates on the local news from the State Highway Administration operations center in Hanover.

The District also has a snow command center at the Reeves Center on U Street. But when it comes to updating the media, D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) has opted to hold hastily scheduled news conferences throughout the city.

Fenty's decision to move his snow updates from ward to ward, neighborhood to neighborhood, fits in with his campaign promise of being a visible mayor. It also makes for campaign photos.

But the tactic made it nearly impossible for many journalists - many of whom were immobilized during the height of the storm - to know where Fenty might pop up next to give his update.

Let's review where Fenty has been since Thursday to talk about the snow, according to media releases.

On Thursday, before the first flakes fell, Fenty held a 7 p.m. news conference at Watkins Recreation Center on 12th Street SE.

By Friday morning, just as it started snowing, the update was held at 10 a.m. at 10th Street Park in Logan Circle.

Four hours later, Fenty summoned the media to Southwest for a briefing at the Potomac River Salt Dome at the intersection of Potomac and R Street SW.

The following day - when it really was difficult to move around the city amid blizzard conditions - Fenty showed up on U Street to give a briefing. A few hours after that, he was at the intersection of Good Hope Road and Alabama Avenues in Southeast.

The press release was sent out less three hours before the scheduled 4:45 p.m. press conference, guaranteeing there was not enough time for the Washington Post to rent a sports utility vehicle to send a journalist. But media outlets were offered an incentive to try to make it.

"Immediately following the press conference, the mayor will get in a snowplow and help clear the streets," the release said. "Members of the media will also be invited to get into the snowplows to get videos and pictures."

Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) took a different approach to communicating with the snowbound Washington media during the storm. He held conference calls.

But as the massive cleanup began on Sunday, Fenty summoned the media to
RFK Stadium for an 8 a.m. briefing. On Monday, he was back in Southeast, at Barry Farm to give a mid-afternoon briefing.

This morning, Fenty chose the Salt Dome on 14th Street NE to give his update. At noon today, he will be at Kenilworth Terrace to give a snow briefing. He'll also be delivering meals to seniors.


--TIm Craig

By Anne Bartlett  |  February 9, 2010; 12:30 PM ET
Categories:  2010 District Election , City Life , Mayor Fenty , Tim Craig  
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Next: Fenty: D.C. will call in extra snow plowing equipment

Comments

Media about the media.

This is such a tellingly media-centric perspective on the dissemination of information. If you're a journalist, what's import isn't so much that information gets to citizens, but that *you* serve as the conduit of that information.

Posted by: wmicawber | February 9, 2010 12:55 PM | Report abuse

What up with Fenty and keeping the DC Government open when the Feds are closed? It is completely irresponsible.

Posted by: nomorewholefoods | February 9, 2010 1:06 PM | Report abuse

Tim,

Stop your whining and cover the news.

Posted by: DawnKo | February 9, 2010 1:35 PM | Report abuse

You forgot to mention the fact that before and during the storm he was calling for people to stay off the streets so the snowplows could do their job & the emergency vehicles could get through. How does sending for a gaggle of reporters to follow you all the way across the city every couple of hours provide an example for people to comply with that request? I'm sure that someone more qualified driving that snowplow would have gotten a lot more done than he did during his stupid photo-op.

Posted by: icemachine79 | February 9, 2010 1:42 PM | Report abuse

King Adrian Malik Fenty is an idiot!

Posted by: Ward4DC | February 9, 2010 3:12 PM | Report abuse

I'm looking forward to seeing the photos of baby fenty looking all Michael Dukakis, when baby fenty gets to play with the big boy's Tonka trucks!

Posted by: bob_dylan_rocks | February 9, 2010 11:06 PM | Report abuse

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