Archive for Thursday, November 2, 2006

Getting the message out

November 2, 2006

As a Fort Leavenworth public affairs officer, David Howey walks a fine line.

It's not always easy wrangling the various media covering events at the fort. Funerals and high-security events are challenging for Howey, who tries to work with the reporters, photographers and camera crews to minimize their impact on an event - whether it's emotional or physical. Funerals present a particular challenge.

"I tell them, 'Just try to do your job and maintain a sense of decency,'" Howey said of his strategy for dealing with photographers, adding that it doesn't always get the desired effect.

Generally, Howey finds the job manageable, but there is always an element of surprise that is lurking behind-the-scenes for even the most well-planned events.

"About a year ago we had the president of Indonesia here and we had to have a very controlled-security environment," Howey said.

He asked the news media to register for the event and arrive two hours early to be briefed about security and where to set up. But when the foreign president arrived, Howey found himself in a tricky situation.

"The challenge for me was that there was a contingent of media traveling with the president - Indonesian media. There were about 20 of them," he said.

Doing his best to communicate without an interpreter, Howey tried to tell the foreign news crews about the rules but wasn't totally successful. They brought a little more media frenzy to the event than Howey would have liked but also left him with a lesson about the nature of his work.

"You just do the best you can and keep a level head," Howey said. "And as best you can communicate what you want to happen and just hope for the best."

Name: David Howey

Address: 27497 Tonganoxie Road

Occupation: Fort Leavenworth public affairs officer

Graduate of: University of South Carolina, Kansas State University

Family: Gina, wife; Alice, 20, daughter; James, 13, son

How long have you lived in Lansing and what brought you here? Since 1994. "I had been here before for school and just thought it was a very lovely place to live. I got off active duty at Fort Riley, and I just looked for jobs here and was able to find one."

What do you like most about Lansing? "The small-town atmosphere and kind of the close-knit nature of the community : The other thing I like about Lansing now is that it's growing and becoming a little bit bigger but, I think, not losing its personality."

What do you do for fun? "I play guitar and I work out on my farm."

What would surprise people about you? "That I'm an amateur writer and I've written a book of short stories and that I've written many songs."

What's the best advice you've ever received? "Just do the right thing. Do what you think is right."

What organizations or clubs do you belong to? Leadership Leavenworth-Lansing

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