Lessons from the Street: Capacity Building and Replication

Appendix 3:
Excerpts from a Practice News Conference at the Foundation's Television School

Note: This training session involved a national coalition of organizations. All coalition members first received a review of programs that do and do not work, based on scientific evaluation. Then they received strategic communications planning and television school training. Toward the end of the training, two members were asked to lead a press conference. The Foundation's trainers were the reporters. The assignment to the coalition members was to keep the focus of their message, despite attempts by reporters to make them lose focus. Only segments of the training are included here.

Spokesperson A: Ladies and Gentlemen of the press -- We thank you very much for coming today. As you know, our purpose today is to announce the formation of a new coalition of inner city organizations which are scattered across the country. These organizations which have come together for purposes of networking, building capacity, sharing experiences and addressing the problems of African American males. We are now ready to answer your questions?

Reporter: Congress and the President has already outlawed or gotten rid of welfare. How is that going to affect your program?

Spokesperson A: It will deplete it a great deal. What it will mean is that in order to stop that gap, there is going to need to be additional money -- both out of the private sector and out of the public sector -- to address problems of the constituencies about which we have most concerns.

Reporter: Is this move on the part of the federal government some indication that the American public is no longer willing to underwrite welfare?

Spokesperson A: Certainly the polls do not show that. The polls show that America is most compassionate in this regard. How the Congress got off on this bent, I do not know. Except that it is mean spirited and, therefore, they have not followed the desires of the American people and have not been compassionate in approaching these issues.

Reporter: What is going to come out of this coalition that is going to be so different than what we have seen in the past that hasn't worked in the sixties?

Spokesperson B: It is our hope that, as a coalition and as individual programs within the collaboration, we will see a marked reduction in some of the statistics as they relate to homicide and incarceration. We want out streets to be safe. We want to see increases in the number of young graduating from high school and going to college, the number of jobs created and the number of businesses started by people in our communities. Those are some of our indicators of successes.

Reporter: So are you supporting things like enterprise zones and mandatory sentencing and prisons?

Spokesperson B: No, we’re not advocating that at all.

Reporter: Why not?

Spokesperson B: We want to look at the problems and not just focus on the symptoms.

Reporter: What is wrong with enterprise zones?

Spokesperson B: In some cases, they work and some cases, they don't work. And we are not dismissing any kind of solution. I think that, as I have said many times before, multiple solutions are necessary.

Reporter: Was this group a part of the Million Man March?

Spokesperson B: No, we were not part of the Million Man March. There were individuals who were part of the coalition who participated, including myself.

Reporter: And what is your view on Minister Farrakhan?

Spokesperson B: We are really not here to discuss Mr. Farrakhan. We want to reiterate our message.

Reporter: Mr. Farrakhan is a very, very influential popular man in the eye of the American public. You should say something about him. Are you for him or against him?

Spokesperson A: We are not for or against Mr. Farrakhan. There were individual members of our organization who participated in the Million Man March. What is significant about the Million Man March is that it gave evidence of enthusiasm on the part of Black men to address aggressively the problems of the African-American community in the larger American community.

Reporter: But can't you condemn Farrakhan and then move on?

Spokesperson A: We are not willing to condemn anybody. Even those who are his greatest distractors, we do not condemn. That is not our purpose. And, therefore, we remain focused on what we are suppose to be doing.

Reporter: Thank you.

Spokesperson A: Thank you, Ladies and Gentlemen of the press.

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