“Who told you I was running for Mayor?” New York City Comptroller William C. Thompson, Jr. Said in Jest to a WORD Senior Editor a Few Years Ago

WORD Senior Editor Jonathan Mena, far left. Former WORD Senior Editor Daniel Allen, sitting to right of Thompson.

WORD Senior Editor Jonathan Mena, far left. Former WORD Senior Editor Daniel Allen, sitting to right of Thompson.

From a November 1, 2007, WORD article: When asked by WORD senior editor and senior producer Jonathan Mena if his motivation for convening with young reporters was linked to a mayoral bid, Thompson replied, jokingly, “Who told you I was running for mayor?” Articles in several news/magazine publications, however, described him as a strong contender for the 2009 mayoral contest.

So, Thompson’s office was recently emailed a request for another meeting with the WORD.

Mena and Allen and students journalists from other CUNY publications as well as NYU and Columbia University had been invited to meet with the City’s Chief Financial Officer in fall, 2007. So, I wanted to know if he might consider meeting with WORD writers/editors as he’s receiving endorsements for his Mayoral campaign. I certainly would not object if he agreed to go solo with the WORD.

The original story about the meeting, headlined, NYC’s Chief Financial Officer Goes Collegiate, was written by Daniel Allen and published November 1, 2007. Read it here.

Allen has since graduated but Mena is still a student and has credentialed experience. He was one of two WORD writers who reported on the New Hampshire at the invitation of New York Community Media Alliance.  He was one of three WORD writers who reported on the Democratic National Convention in Denver, courtesy  New America Media. And he went to D.C. for the Inauguration.

So, it doesn’t seem unreasonable for a request to Thompson’s office about a new interview.

I was impressed that Thompson was willing to be interviewed by a posse of student journalists. Many high ranking public officials would not dare. It’s not unusual for undergraduate news publications to clamor, futilely, for interviews with the Mayor and NYPD Police Commissioner and other significant leaders in the public eye. Yet, many students, based on my many experiences and observations, are woefully unprepared and naive for such meetings (which wasn’t the case with Mena and Allen, however).

A former WORD writer several years ago published an excellent article about trying to interview Rudolph Giuliani when he was Mayor. I wasn’t expecting RG to grant an interview, the exercise was more about this: What do journalists do when when they can’t get sources to agree to an interview This was a guerilla journalism exercise. It was was during that period when RG was the leading the vilification of CUNY. I didn’t relay to the student that he was on a guerilla-j mission.

Instead of a flat rejection, the student was passed from one City Hall office to another for a final answer.  I told him to keep a record of everything – dates, times, names (many would only give first names), phone numbers, the tone of the conversations, more). After several weeks of of this pass-along game, and then receiving a final, official rejection, and having overcome his frustrations at being passed on from one office to another, the student realized that his efforts were not an exercise in futility, and he wrote a bravura Op Ed, which included the questions he wanted to ask RG, such as, QMfE, “Why don’t you like CUNY?” And, of course, he provided commentary.

I thought it was a great learning experience.

I’m not interested in assigning a student to chase Thompson.

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