I have a story on the front page today based on a conference call that U.S. Sen. Bob Corker conducted on Monday.
State and federal officials are making more-frequent use of the conference call as a tool for communicating with far-flung media. Depending on the official and the level of media interest, they may have one conference call for all interested media outlets or they may break it up into smaller groups. It's handy because it works like a virtual press conference, giving the participating reporters the chance to ask their own questions.
But there are drawbacks. It came out in the news this week that FEMA set up a video press conference hookup, not unlike a conference call, where all of the "reporters" who were in the room, asking questions, were actually FEMA staffers.
I know that wasn't the case with the Corker call. In fact, there was one reporter on Monday who actually interrupted Corker during one of his statements, and then -- after a back-and-forth of apologies between the reporter and Corker over who had interrupted whom and who should speak next -- delivered a long, rambling, multi-part question. Her question was more or less on-topic, but I've heard other reporters use the conference call for off-topic questions that would better have been handled by calling the officeholder's office individually, before or after the conference call.