PRESIDENT Noynoy Aquino was asked why he insisted on continuing to smoke cigarettes. He told reporters it was his money he's spending and it was his life anyway. In effect: None of your business, back off.

It wasn't the kind of answer people expected from their president.

Updates on President Benigno Aquino III's presidency

Or any other president: Barack Obama's take on his own smoking wasn't hostile.

PNoy must've been so annoyed he sounded like a heavy smoker resenting "intervention" from family and friends.

He lost his cool but didn't lash out at reporters as Education Secretary Armin Luistro did. Still, PNoy fell short of being media-savvy.

It doesn't pay to be angry in talking with media. The news source says things he'll regret. And he comes out uncouth or bratty: ugly in a news story, uglier in a TV clip or news photo.

Luistro wasn't frothing in the mouth, yet that drew news focus to his outburst, not the issue of teaching sex in schools.

What will help

It may help news sources: not to scold journalists over motive, to assess effects of what one says before saying it, and to supply answers in clear language.

Most basic is knowledge of how media works, why journalists are intrusive and nasty, and what information media need and how to give it. Skilled enough, a news source may even "manipulate" media, which is using the press to one's advantage without bribing or lying.

PNoy prescribed a media seminar for Cabinet members, just like what the Church, much earlier, did for Cardinal Vidal and other bishops.

Whether public persons regard the press as partner or adversary, they must know how to deal with it.

(paseares@yahoo.com)