This week, we had the pleasure to speak with Melissa Griffin: columnist for The Huffington Post
What’s your top story for today?
Today I wrote about the trial of our newly-elected San Francisco Sheriff, Ross Mirkarimi, who has been charged with domestic abuse of his wife. As a lawyer who writes about politics, I bring a unique perspective when those worlds collide.
Tell us about your dream assignment.
I specialize in explaining complex matters and pulling back the curtain on why certain groups and people behave as they do. I think it would be a blast to cover a contentious political convention where I could break down delegate selection and the chess behind the scenes in a way that is accessible and entertaining.
Describe the wackiest story you’ve written.
This is not easy! I’ve written almost 500 columns in the last three years and there is no shortage of craziness in politics. In San Francisco we pass legislation regulating foie gras, cat declawing and happy meals. At least once a year our Board of Supervisors demands an end to the war in Iraq. On holidays I write fake Christmas lists, Valentine’s Day wishes and propose Halloween costumes. But the article I felt most squeamish about was the one I wrote when a group proposed banning all circumcision – male and female. Whether it was constitutional was the point of the article (a legitimate, academic question) but I couldn’t help but wonder if all my internet research was earning me an FBI file. And I was sure that my sweet, southern mother would not approve.
What is your PR pet peeve?
I get irked when people send me items even a cursory review of my profile would indicate are outside my scope of interest. (Law and politics, y’all.) Or when I write an opinion piece that is less than flattering to their client and they lash out at me because it wasn’t objective. As a columnist, not a reporter, I’m paid to write my opinions. And my opinions about people and organizations aren’t improved by being yelled at. Oh, and all PR people need to refrain from using my Facebook page as a bulletin board. (Since when is that okay? Bananas!) Allow me to take a moment here to say I was asked about my peeve so sorry if this is coming off as too negative. There are PR people I really adore and I admire the people skills required to do what you do. Unreasonable clients are prevalent in the legal field, too, so I feel your pain.
Top trend in the industry you’re currently covering or are interested in.
The objects of my obsession are law and politics (together and separate) so of course I’m interested in the tectonic shifts in sensibilities that are happening under our feet. The Tea Party, Occupy Wall Street and the increasing inability of the two dominant political parties to maintain the uneasy alliances that have sustained them so far. Whatever one’s political leanings, no one can deny that change is in the air. And it’s different this time.
Tell us a little about yourself.
Born and raised in Marietta, I was called to politics in the early 1990s when my congressional representative (Newt Gingrich) was shutting down the US government. Fascinated with this phenomenon, I went on to study politics at Mount Holyoke College and then law at Cornell Law School. In 2007, I started a blog where I wrote about law and politics and in 2008 I was picked up by the San Francisco Examiner where three of my articles can be found every Thursday. Because I have no life, I also emcee events, explain election initiatives to community groups, appear on television and radio and generally hog the microphone at every occasion, which is why I’m great on TV and terrible at dinner parties.
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