Mayor sounds off about media - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Mayor sounds off about media

In his State of the Union speech to city business leaders today, Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton had strong words for the Memphis media.

Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton's State of the City address was a forward-looking, friendly speech promising a brighter future for Memphians.

But it was riddled with criticism for the Memphis media.

"I don't want the media to distort what I say," he said at the outset. "The games that the media want to play... We won't play em today. I'll play them with you tomorrow."

Herenton has long criticized what he views as media antics, over-dramatizations and shallow reporting.

In 2004, he said he was writing a book on leadership with a chapter devoted to media relations.

"Well, the Mayor's always had some issues with how the media operates. And that's fine. The media are not in town to be PR for any politician," says Otis Sanford, managing editor of the Commercial Appeal. Sanford's team got special attention in the Mayor's 2006 address because of a weekend editorial called "Speaking Tips for Mayor Herenton."

"The Commercial Appeal did an editorial and this amazes me how... The audacity. People are quite audacious. This is the Mayor of Memphis' speech. The Commercial Appeal editorial staff had the audacity to tell me what to say to y'all," said Herenton.

Sanford is unphased.

"From my point of view, all of this is on a professional level. The Mayor has issues with how the media operate. certainly the newspaper, through its editorial pages takes issue with how the Mayor operates. That's the way it should be. That's the way it always will be," says Sanford.

The Mayor cut a deal with the media today. He outlined a list of things he would not talk about and did not want to be asked about.

In exchange, he promised to address anything and everything in a special press briefing Thursday morning.

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