The Mayor and The Media

Mayor Nutter (who, let's face it, has enjoyed glowing press coverage for pretty much his whole career) ruminated on his relationship with the media in a Penn classroom today.

His "basic philosophy," Nutter said, was to start with the idea that the media are "not my biographers."

"It's not their responsibility, directly, to make me look good or make me look smart," Nutter said. "On the other hand, commensurately, it's not their job to make me look stupid, which they have not done."

Another key, he said, was to actually talk to the media. That's a more novel approach then you might assume.

Before taking office, for instance, Nutter met with reporters and top brass at the city's largest media outlets to "talk about the city's image, to talk about trying to change the nature of the relationship between the mayor's office and the news media."

"Not commenting on the previous mayor, but you know, it was kind of a challenged relationship," Nutter said of Mayor Streets (lack of) rapport with the press corps. "I have a much more open and engaged relationship with the media."

Which might help explain why Nutter is one of those few long-serving public officials who says he has rarely been misquoted or badly misrepresented by the news media.

Students wondered what Nutter made of the media’s relentless focus on what you might call bad news: crime, corruption, that sort of thing. Nutter said it cut two ways. He said the intense coverage of crime last year clearly shaped the mayor’s race (in his favor, it would seem) and focused the city – including the Police Department – on the magnitude of the problem. But daily homicide headlines definitely take a toll on the city's image, Nutter said.