​​​​​​​WEB EXTRA: Local 24 News’ Mike Matthews Explains Hide & No Speak

Local News
Mike Matthews

I know this is going to be hard to believe, but sometimes powerful people don’t want to talk to me.

They don’t want to talk to me, they don’t want to see me, they don’t want to be in the same city I’m in.

This happens more than you probably think, and it especially happens with the Memphis City Council.

Just in the last week, I’ve had a city council member ducking my calls. He says he’s injured, yet even with that injury, he was able to appear on a WKNO show.

Nothing personal, that’s just the way it is.

I had a city councilman once tell me on the phone that he was out of town and wasn’t going to be back for a week. The trouble is, as he said this, I was watching him in his office. He didn’t know I was there. He said he was GOING to be out of town, very soon, and still wouldn’t talk.

Former Mayor Willie Herenton didn’t hide. He just told us. We would be at events, he’d get out of his car and say, “I don’t know why you’re here, I’m not talking to you.” He’d do his thing, and as he walked back to his car, we’d try to ask questions again. His response, ‘Y’all have a blessed day.’”

A press secretary once told me that there was nothing written down anywhere that said the Mayor, or City Council member, or County Commissioner had to talk to us.

She’s right, there is nothing written down anywhere that says they must stop and answer questions. There are some council members now who will not answer media questions, EVER.

It’s one reason why you often see the same people over and over. They are on because they talk.

The way I look at this, is yes, they have to answer questions. Reporters are not asking these questions just for themselves. They are asking the questions for you. I mean, this is what I do. Get the information and report it to you. Because of that, and because of the fact that politicians get paid with taxpayer money, they work FOR you. They have a duty and a responsibility to talk with members of the media. If they don’t like dealing with the press, and there are plenty who don’t, go into another line of work. I have never had to chase down a blacksmith for his opinion.

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