FAMU Holds Invite-Only Talk with President Mangum

FAMU President Dr. Elmira Mangum
Posted at 5:11 PM, Nov 02, 2015
and last updated 2015-11-03 12:52:41-05

TALLAHASSEE, FL (WTXL) -- Florida A&M University held a special media event Monday morning, giving reporters a chance to speak with President Dr. Elmira Mangum, but only under strict guidelines outlined by the university.

WTXL was invited to participate but declined to attend, because the university put restrictions on the interview that the station, as a news organization, did not think were fair.

No photography or videography was allowed during the meeting. Officials restricted which members of the media could attend, and the invited reporters were allowed to ask one question during the roundtable -- more, if time permitted.

Mangum has been under fire by the university's board of trustees for her performance and leadership. The board voted twice last month to fire her, but both motions failed.

WTXL reached out to four local public relations firms about how the university chose to hold Monday's event, none of whom wanted to comment.

WTXL news director M. David Lee III issued the following statement regarding why the station declined to be a part of Monday's interview:

"As a news organization, we did not feel the conditions in which Florida A&M University dictated today's interview opportunity to be acceptable. If Dr. Mangum wishes to sit down with WTXL, with whoever we choose as the reporter, for an open and frank conversation about the university, we are more than willing to set that up.

However, asking a television station not to videotape the interview, trying to handpick who can do the interview and the initially limiting reporter questions to just one, is unacceptable. -- M. David Lee III, WTXL News Director."

WTXL has also requested an audio recording of Monday's interview. The university said it was working on that request.

“Yesterday’s event resulted in a very fruitful discussion,” said Jimmy Miller, vice president for Communications and External Relations. “One of the President’s guiding principles of her administration is transparency, and she wanted to be sure to have a candid dialogue with the media representatives who have been following FAMU closely and who had not been able to speak with her previously due to a very full schedule.”

In a news release, Miller also addressed what he called unfounded accusations that the intimate dialogue without cameras was “unfair.”

“Media representatives were not prohibited from carrying out their duties,” he said. “The conversation was completely on-the-record. Multiple questions and follow-up questions were asked. There were no limitations on the questions that were asked. Media representatives audio-recorded the entire dialogue and took notes, just as reporters would do at any other media event. Broadcast stations attending had plenty of previous images and B-roll to use to go along with their stories. Additionally, photos were taken with the President at the end of the discussion.”

In the invite that was sent to media outlets, including WTXL, FAMU put restrictions on which reporter could attend and then wanted to limit them to one question. They also said that no video or photos would be allowed.

Read the full invite below.

Dear Media Colleague:
Thank you for accepting the invitation to Monday's media availability with FAMU President Elmira Mangum, Ph.D. The allotted time of 9 a.m. to 9: 45 a.m. will serve as an intimate on-the-record conversation with President Mangum. The availability will take place in Lee Hall in the President's Conference Room on the fourth floor. 
The dialogue will be formatted similarly to an editorial board meeting. Each invited reporter will have an opportunity to ask a question of their choice during the first round of the discussion, and as time permits we will go around the table for follow-up questions and additional exchange. President Mangum will also be allotted time to make remarks.
Please note that due to seating limitations and to ensure a fluid, organized, fruitful, and intimate discussion we are asking that you respect our wishes and refrain from advertising the event or inviting additional reporters or crew members. Invitations to this discussion are solely for the individuals who received a phone call or email from my office with a request to attend. 
Individuals asked to attend were selected based on previous interview requests that the President and the Office of Communications wish to honor. This is by no means an effort to prohibit access to other reporters from the conversation with the President, but it is solely designed to ensure the most productive, orderly, and respectful dialogue possible. The University understands the importance of media access, but simply endeavors to ensure that this interview time is conducted in a structured manner. We hope to offer additional availability in the future.
If you wish to record the discussion with an audio recording device, that is acceptable and welcomed. However, we request that you refrain from videography or photography of any kind during the discussion. We are asking for your cooperation, as we would like to ensure that the conversation is free from distraction and that everyone is comfortable and can have open dialogue. Again this is an on-the-record conversation. Our office will also audio record the discussion and if you need copies please feel free to request them.
If you should decide to decline this invitation due to our request to refrain from photography or videography, please let me know immediately so that I can allow another reporter to take your slot. As you know, the President's schedule is very full, so we want to make the most of this time. The Office of Communications and the President look forward to a mutually beneficial and successful dialogue, and to constructive news coverage and future events.
If you plan to attend, please RSVP by Saturday at noon.