Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Behind Closed Doors With Bloomberg by Stephen Ceasar - City Room Blog -

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As far as media-friendly politicians go, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg is nowhere near the top of the list. Mr. Bloomberg — a media tycoon is his own right — has been known to bristle at questions he doesn’t like and seems to find the New York media something of an annoyance.

On Thursday, he met with eight award-winning college journalists from around the country at the Hearst Tower in Manhattan to applaud their work and encourage them to keep pursuing their ambitions.

The event, however, was closed to the media.

The students, recipients of the Hearst Journalism Awards, were each permitted to ask the mayor one question. Afterward, they said there were some questions the mayor was happy to answer, and others he didn’t relish.

The general theme of the 45-minute talk was about the city and all it offered, said Nathan Rott, 23, a University of Montana graduate.

“Sort of like with LeBron James, it was a sale pitch,” Mr. Rott said, referring to the city’s video campaign to lure the N.B.A. All-Star to New York. “He was very good about hitting you with a lot of facts, bombarding us with facts and information.”

One student asked the mayor whether he had presidential aspirations. Mr. Bloomberg said he did not, according to Allison Gatlin, 22, who graduated from Arizona State University.

When speaking about the media, Mr. Bloomberg told the students he has no problems with it, but is annoyed when reporters don’t get the facts straight, pass off opinion as news or intrude into his personal life, Ms. Gatlin said.

Asked whether he considered himself a celebrity, Mr. Bloomberg said he left that to entertainers and athletes and wanted to be taken seriously as mayor.

Reading from her notes, Ms. Gatlin quoted the mayor as saying: “My life is fundamentally boring to the press. I live with a woman who is age appropriate. We don’t do drugs, we don’t do flashy stuff. The press fundamentally leaves my private life alone. At one point, one guy wrote a story that said I was gaining weight and so I went on a diet.”