Being Boring Is Way to Win the White House, Jerry Brown Says at AAN West

If a presidential candidate wants to survive public scrutiny, apparently the best strategy is to give dull speeches, Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown told AAN members who attended the AAN West conference in San Francisco on Jan. 24. “If you have no identifying marks, you can adjust yourself,” he said. “Once you say something memorable or make a sound that’s memorable, everyone fashions you in an almost computer-generated image.”

Brown, the former governor of California and one-time presidential candidate, discussed how media pundits can have “a deeply held assumption about the way the world is” and convey a bias against anyone who doesn’t buy into that world view, using such simple techniques as almost spitting when they say the candidate’s name. “As they talk about you, they can begin to marginalize you,” he said.

About 250 people attended the AAN West conference at the Holiday Inn Golden Gateway on Jan. 23 and 24. The conference had separate tracks for retail advertising reps, classified advertising reps, design and production, and editorial.

In addition to hearing from various panelists, ad reps learned about time management from Jacqueline Miller, legal issues from Jim Ewert, marketing partnerships from Kare Anderson and sales techniques from Mike Blinder. Michael Ninness of Adobe Systems taught designers how to make their images look good using Photoshop even though, in his opinion, “printing on newsprint is like printing on toilet paper with gasoline.”

Reporters and editors got a legal update from Tom Burke, learned about the art of profile writing from book author Adam Hochschild and Pittsburgh City Paper editor Andy Newman, and received a day of training in investigative and computer-assisted reporting methods from an Investigative Reporters and Editors team led by Ron Nixon of the Minneapolis Star Tribune.