Police sergeants and lieutenants received media training Wednesday from a consultant who advertises that she can teach cops how to outsmart reporters and get them to work for the police.
Police Chief Galen Carroll said the sergeants and lieutenants did not receive that kind of instruction. He said the training focused on using social media, such as Twitter, and not being afraid of – and how to talk with – reporters. “We are not trying to outsmart reporters,” he said.
The training was provided by Laura Cole, who spent nearly 15 years in TV news, including a stint with Channel 13 (KOVR) in Sacramento, before starting Cole Pro Media. “I really wanted to focus more on positive news,” she said, “and this is my opportunity to do that.”
Her Facebook page offers this description of the consulting firm:
“Here at Cole Pro Media, we believe journalism is changing. Thanks to social media, any person, agency, or leader can report the TRUTH. It is all about building your OWN media. We will report the story for you and teach you how to do it on a daily basis. It is time to take back the control from the Mainstream Media and get the real stories out there using social media. We also offer a ‘street smart’ class to outsmart reporters.”
Cole Pro Media’s website says it can teach officials how to “master the tricks to outsmart reporters” and how to get reporters and editors to work for them. Cole said she stands by what’s on her Facebook page and website but said, “I totally see what you are saying,” when asked whether those statements raise questions.
She said her eight-hour street-smart class teaches officers how to pitch stories to reporters, and if the reporters are not interested, how officers can use social media to tell compelling stories that engage the public.
Carroll said he was not aware of Cole’s website and Facebook page. He said the Police Department did not use the Internet to find her. Cole said she made contact with the department through employees she met at another training session. Carroll said it’s important the department sharpen its social media skills because there are stories it wants to tell that the traditional media can’t because of time and space constraints.
Cole charged the Police Department $450 for the two-hour training.
While The Modesto Bee cannot provide social media training, it is more than willing to talk with officers about how to work with the media and share its experience with how it uses social media.
“As the news agency that covers the Modesto Police Department far more regularly than any other, and regularly interacts with officers and administration, we would be happy to sit down with representatives in a more formal setting and discuss our roles,” Bee Editor Joe Kieta said.
Bee staff writer Kevin Valine can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2316.