Occupy Portland starts today at noon, and rest assured Columbia Sportswear jacket-wearing reporters from all the local news stations are gonna be up in your grill (along with a few of us Mercury reporters, I bet) asking you one simple question: WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING HERE?
The way you answer this question is pretty goddamn important (NO PRESSURE!) because rest assured all these "objective" reporters will be trying to paint you and the Occupy Portland movement into something the simplest dullard/viewer can digest. Don't give them the opportunity to portray you as a stink-foot, hippie no-nothing bent on taking down capitalism and tossing a garbage can through a Starbucks window. (Unless that's what you are, then go ahead.) Here are some tips on what to say to reporters and how to say it.
1) If you're wearing a funny hat, take it off. It doesn't matter how smart you are, you will never be taken seriously wearing a funny hat, and it's going to embarrass everyone else.
2) Speak in soundbites. TV stations will be more than delighted to edit down your brilliant, three minute treatise on how "Wall Street has financially gutted America," into one line taken completely out of context, thereby making you look like an idiot. Find the "nut" or basic theme of your position, and cut that down to one snappy, memorable sentence. Then shut up, because that's the sentence they'll use. If they want more, you can elaborate further—but trust me, keep it short. It's better television, and keeps their advertisers happier, if you look like an idiot.
3) Don't know what to say? Paraphrase. It's really hard for anybody to concisely explain what this "Occupy" thing is all about. So when in doubt, paraphrase from someone smarter. Here's a quick, smart one-paragraph description from Edward Murray from Huffington Post about why you are doing what you're doing. Paraphrase. Cannibalize. Memorize.
How many people lost tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars in their 401(k) funds over the last three years? With the recent financial crash and stories of banks successfully executing illegal foreclosures, the average citizen should know by this point that the system is not going to protect you. Our current financial system must cannibalize a majority of its participants in order to continue its own unsustainable growth. This should terrify every taxpaying citizen who doesn't have the comfort of large investments that can be easily liquidated or a solid financial support system. The truth is that most Americans are one lay-off, one bank error, or one instance of corporate malfeasance from financial ruin.
4) Be calm, polite and firm. We know you're excited, but remember where "excitement" got Howard Dean? And don't argue! If the reporter is trying to manipulate or twist your words, WALK AWAY. Don't make his/her job of making you look like an idiot any easier.
5) And finally, SMILE! You're gonna be famous, perhaps even a YouTube sensation, and you can parlay this fame into a book deal, a reality show, and wealth beyond your wildest imaginings!! ... thereby turning you into the person you're protesting against. On second thought? Don't smile.
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