Journalistic SPIN

Renewing a congressional press pass has become a much-anticipated event at the B&C/Multichannel News home office. It

did not disappoint this year.

Last year I stumbled on the wall full of Cosmo Kramers, the name they chose to put on all the dummy ID cards on display on the wall of the ID office in the Dirkson Senate Office building. They remain, despite some grumbling about it from some staffers following Michael Richard’s rascist rant.

This year, the observational jackpot was the new cloth landyard in the “help yourself” bins that include the free plastic ID sleeves and neck chains for the ID cards that are just some of those incredible perks of being with the press.

Anyway, this year in addition to the chain there was a cloth neck lanyard–like the ones for convention badges–abeled “SENATE ID OFFICE What’s Your SPIN.”

“What’s my Spin?” I asked aloud, somewhat incredulously, to the person who had just snapped my unsmiling, too-grey-haired photo. “Does Congress now just assume that reporters are all biased?” No, he replied. The office issues IDs for virtually all staffers, and, according to another ID staffer, the “What’s your SPIN?” actuall refers to the Senate Personal Identification Number (SPIN) on everyone’s pass this year.

“That is just an advertisement to introduce people to the SPIN number,” said the staffer, who added that they have been gradually replacing Social Security numbers with the new number number and just wanted to make people more aware of it.

So, the next time someone in Congress says a journalist is putting their spin on the story, I’m sure what he or she really means is that the unbiased, diligent and amazingly-still-employed writer has put a personal stamp on the story as distinctive as his own Senate Personal Identification Number.

I could reveal that number, but then everybody could put my SPIN on their own stories.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.