Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Does it Feel Good to Touch Down? What's the First Thing You're Going to Do? Michael? Mike? Mike?



When important or famous people arrive in town, it's not uncommon for journalists to greet them at the airport and ask them questions.

So, when Michael Phelps landed in Arizona after the Rio Olympics, members of the media were there to greet him and ask him questions.

Except this time, Phelps asked for privacy.

Do you - as a journalist - continue pursuing him in order to get the story? After all, he is the most decorated Olympian of all time. Given that he had just won five gold and one silver medal and had announced his retirement, he seems very newsworthy, right?

Or do you allow him space, and maybe try to get in touch a few days later? He deserves his privacy, right?

What would you do? Is it wrong to keep asking questions, as the reporter in this video did?

18 comments:

Siani Colon said...

Even though as a journalist you should be proactive in pursuing a story, you must remember that the person you may want to interview is human. It would be great to cover a story on Michael Phelps, considering the Olympic records that he holds. However, he just finished weeks in Rio participating in the games as well as having interviews on the side. He would be tired after all that and to bombard him with questions would be too much. As such a prominent figure in the public eye, he should do things that would boost his image, but he doesn't have an obligation to have an interview with every person that asks. It would be better to contact him at a different time, instead of surrounding him after a long flight. In the video, he even said that they could contact his agents if they wanted an interview, which would be in a more appropriate setting. On the bright side, the reporter in the video did eventually listen to Phelps and stopped, instead of continuing to ask questions and just push Phelps away even further. In the end, there are different circumstances on where it is better to push for more questions and where you should probably wait for a better time. And would a question or two answered at an airport (of all places) be that engaging to begin with?

Ethan Kart said...

While I can see why a journalist would be eager to get an interview with Phelps after all of his recent success, I don't think this was the right time or place to look for one. I would think they could have assumed he would not be exactly thrilled to have a microphone shoved in his face immediately after getting off of probably one of many flights with his family. While Phelps probably could have responded in a better way and just answered a few quick questions to satisfy the reporter, as Siani stated he is in no way obligated to give any response at all. Sometimes it is necessary for a journalist to keep pushing their questions to get the information they need, but for something as small as Michael Phelps walking through an airport with his family, it would have been best for the reporter to back off as soon as Phelps expressed his disinterest, which should have made it clear they weren't going to get the kind of interview they wanted to begin with.

Katie Weaver said...

While famous people should expect a certain degree of invasion into their personal lives by the press, the press should know when to back down and understand when "enough is enough." In times when the famous person is with his/her family, he/she should be left alone.

Molly Dooling said...

If I was the reporter in this situation, I would have left Phelps alone at this point. He had just gotten off a long flight from Brazil, and was most likely not in the mood to answer more questions as he had already been interviewed a lot while at the Olympics. However, I do believe that Phelps could have handled the situation better. He snapped at the reporter, and the reporter was only trying to do his job. Phelps should expect that with his Olympic success comes fame and popularity. He will be in the public eye for a while now, so people want to keep up with him. I think both Phelps and the reporter both have a job to do; the reporter getting information and Phelps keeping a good public image. The two need to help each other and just be agreeable.

Sam Trilling said...

I feel as though this was a poor news story to begin with, and I also feel that as a human being, Phelps deserves to be left alone if he so desires.

Nicole France said...

I believe that the journalist trying to cover this story was way too eager and not professional enough when put in the place to actually interview Phelps. He was very obnoxious, and he completely got in Phelps' face. In order to achieve a good interview, a journalist must be respectful and not too overbearing. On the other hand, Phelps should have been expecting to be interviewed, and I am shocked that he did not even stop to say just a few words to the journalist. I also think that the journalist should have taken into account that Phelps was with his family and that he was being way too inconsiderate. This journalist also acted as if he was a close friend of Phelps by his greetings and his pushy attitude. Overall, this was definitely not a successful interview, and I am super shocked that it even was put into that news show!
-Nicole France

Lisa Cunningham said...

Although the primary role of this journalist was to get a statement from Phelps after his incredibly successful experience in this year's Olympics, I believe that he could have handled the situation better. I understand why the journalist was anxious to get a response from Phelps, but once Phelps declined he should have respected his choice and moved on. Phelps was returning from a long and tiring trip and deserved to have his privacy. I do believe that Phelps should have expected journalists to be there and question him about his recent success, but he has the right to decline the request. If I were in the same position as this journalist, I think that I would respect his privacy and desire to be with his family. Once he expressed his feelings against the interview I would respect his decision and not pester him for an interview.

Eleanor Grundberg said...

I do not believe Michael Phelps owes the media anything outside the realm of swimming. Winning Olympic gold medals is news; arriving home from the airport is not. He gives plenty of arranged interviews on his swimming career as well as his personal life, and that is more than he is obligated to do. I do not know what any journalist would hope to get out of him in this situation aside from a insincere comment about being home. Overall this was quite a mess.

Geo said...

THINK ABOUT THIS: What if all the other media outlets were there and you weren't, having decided that Michael Phelps deserved some privacy and this was not a news event. And then he says something valuable, like, "It's great to be home and I've decided not to retire. See you in Tokyo in 2020!" Can you afford to skip this situation?

Zach Kocis said...

I think it's reasonable for the media to be present in the airport at the time of Michael Phelps' return to the United States. They were certainly doing their job as journalists, as Mr. Phelps', a famous swimmer, is often in the public eye. Being one of the most decorated Olympians of all time, he is considered a celebrity. At times, celebrities may have to sacrifice their right to privacy in public. However, the media organization took a misstep when the reporter kept hassling Mr. Phelps' for a quote. It made the reporter look insensitive to Phelps' wishes and reflected poorly on the media organization's choice to air that footage.

Lauren Hillegas said...

In this particular situation, I would give Phelps a little space. I would congratulate him on his accomplishments in Rio, and then plan to get in contact a day or so later. Phelps would probably be more willing and open to being interviewed once he gets back in a semi-normal routine and can process all the hectic-ness that is about of being an Olympian and traveling for so long in a foreign place. Hopefully by doing this, not only will he be more comfortable and have his own time to process everything that occurred in Rio, but the quality of the interview will most likely be better than it would have been interagating him off guard at an airport.

Owen Duffey said...

Over the past few months, Michael Phelps has essentially been one of, if not the main, athletic focal points of the Untied States media coverage of the 2016 Olympics. As a world-record-medal-winning swimmer, this year continuing to cement his position as one of competitive swimming's greats, the Olympian should expect to be confronted by the media on a consistent basis. Say what you will about the somewhat nagging behavior of the reporter concerned with "Good Morning Arizona's" coverage of Phelps' Arizona arrival, but the reporter's behavior is beside the point. Phelps should understand that he is going to be presented with these situations even following the Olympics, and should be prepared to say a few words in a short interview to the Americans that have and will continue to support him as a major American figure. All Phelps accomplished in this situation was damaging his own self-image as a world-renowned role-model.

Sarah Tunnell said...

In this instance, I believe that Michael deserves his privacy. He just finished up another epic performance at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, so he is probably exhausted from swimming and from the flight. Phelps owes nothing to the reporters who are waiting there for him at the airport. After Phelps asked the reporters to stop the first time, the reporters should have respected his wishes and left him alone. Michael probably has a ton of press conferences and interviews scheduled post Rio Games, so the reporters should contact his agency if they wanted to talk to him that badly. The interview would also be better if the reporter got to sit down and have a conversation with Phelps.

Catherine Thai said...

It was wrong for the reporter to keep asking questions after Michael Phelps denied him a second time. Although Phelps is a public figure, he deserves his privacy despite other people saying he should have answered some questions. He isn't obligated to do anything unless it's something he agreed to do.

Francesca Furey said...

Journalism is not viewed as positively as it once was. Our goal for the masses is to enlighten and distribute meaningful (which has a vague definition and is applied differently to all) information. However, by trying to project certain media to a specific audience, our intentions are not seen as what they truly are. The world was fascinated and interested in the actions of Michael Phelps, so journalists followed those wishes. By trying to find this information in order to satisfy viewers, the reporter was seen as invasive and rude. Michael Phelps is a huge celebrity and one of his expected jobs is to be able to handle the media in an appropriate way. Though he is a person and is entitled to privacy, one of his standards is bound to be confronted by many journalistic outlets. If he spoke two sentences describing his day, the audience would have been satiated, yet with his refusal to answer questions, this did not occur. Nowadays, if reporters try to find information and are handled wrongly by those of fame, the journalists are seen as those of wrongful action. This "confrontation" with Phelps is yet another form of evidence in which there is an unfair judgement on media.

Anonymous said...

I genuinely don't think the media did anything wrong besides being annoying, which is a trait that is not against the rules or unethical, it is merely just persistent. In all honesty, I think Phelps could have handled the situation in a better manner: his attitude was abrupt and uncalled-for. At the end of the day, he is an Olympic athlete who was being rewarded for his success: he is bound to be in a spotlight for this. Being in the media's eye is merely a consequence of choosing the life of fame. So yes, he does owe the media something. He owes the media his time as an athlete, and he owes the media respect as a person. Michael Phelps just won the Olympics and then announced his departure from the Olympic world, of course this would be breaking news, it was to be expected. The media has a job to do - a very hard and often challenging job at times, and society often forgets this.

-Ammani Khan

Walter Kirby said...

Journalism is supposed to cover the biggest stories in the world and Michael Phelps coming back from the Olympics was a big story. However, journalists are becoming less and less popular in today's society and situations like this do not help their cause. Michael Phelps is a public figure but he is entitled to his privacy. It was smart by the journalist and the corporation to go to the airport and cover Phelps's arrival back in the United States. But once Phelps denied the interview that the reporter requested, the reporter then should have left Phelps alone. Continuing to go after Phelps and bugging him to answer questions does not bring upon a positive light within the journalistic field. Everyone is entitled to their privacy and no one should be able to intrude on that. Journalists should continue to ask permission to interview athletes and other big figures after a big event, but once journalists receive the answer no, they should accept that answer and move on to the next story they need to cover.

Emma Connolly said...

I understand this journalists persistence to get the story because it is in fact, very newsworthy. Despite that Phelps did ask for privacy and it should have been respected. Although he is an olympic gold medalist, he is also a person who has spent a long time in a different country and probably just wants to get home and relax. Being pushy in a situation like this will only result in the person getting upset or angry and you won't get the answers you were looking for. I think it is wrong for the reporter to keep asking questions knowing Phelps had no intentions of answering them.