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Interview requests by the media  
Posted by Brian D on Decamber 17 2007, 13:05 » Uploaded 17/12/07 13:06  

The lack of "really different" viewpoints in TV "news" has been noticeable to me since I started reading books. My opinion on why this is has changed since I started Anxiety Culture back in 1995. Almost immediately (this was before the internet took off – I published zines), I began to get requests for interviews (my first was for BBC Radio Wales – later I was interviewed by the style mag, Face, and by the Independent, Channel 4, etc).

After the internet came along (after I created a few websites) the requests for interviews (and articles for magazines, etc) came even more frequently. BBC2 Newsnight have asked me on a number of occasions to appear, and BBC Radio 4 and Radio Five Live regularly want me to contribute.

But I turn the vast majority down as they are always at impossibly short notice. For example, the following is a typical example of what turns up in my email inbox:

Hello there - I'm trying to get in touch with Brian Dean about a possible interview on BBC Radio Five Live's breakfast programme tomorrow - about crime and the coverage in the newspapers over the past few days.

The newsdesk number here is 0208 624 9501
Many thanks

Tamsin Curnow
Broadcast Journalist
BBC Radio Five Live, Breakfast

Even though I check my emails daily, by the time I read this, the breakfast programme in question had already been broadcast.

It would be different if one were a professional pundit, employed, say, by the Institute of Directors (IoD) to respond to any news story which revealed the dire situation for most workers in the UK (long hours, low pay) – you'd be ready (since it's your job) to respond instantly to every request for an interview.

(Ruth Lea, the former IoD spokesperson, used to turn up on virtually every TV and radio debate about job-related issues, always well-equipped with factoids to defend to big business. Prior to working for IoD, she was the Economics Editor at ITN and Chief Economist at Mitsubishi Bank).

I think this is one of the main reasons why "establishment" views dominate in media such as the BBC. Dissenters, heretics, anti-corporate campaigners, awkward types and people with other strange views rarely get paid to "join in" the "media debate". They have to pay their bills in other ways, usually leaving little time for the luxury of dropping everything to appear on Newsnight at a moment's notice. But from my experience (and that of others I speak to), they do frequently get asked to appear.

COMMENTS Post comment

 

Comment 01 – Mark Warner December 17 2007, 14:32

Ah, yes, Ruth Lea, I remember her well. Or Sir Ruth, to give her the correct title (service to big business has its rewards). I'm sure most people won't know the name, but will recognise the face (from her countless TV appearances).

Comment 02 – Pete Durham December 17 2007, 19:35

Trouble is, if you do get interviewed they'll trivialise your message to death with stupid questions and uninformed context/background.

Comment 03 – Brian D December 18 2007, 20:32

And you have a hard time if you're up against people who have been coached (like many professional pundits). Coached in the art of appearing in TV interviews, that is. There's a set of skills you have to learn about presentation. I remember someone from the Idler magazine appearing in a TV debate and not coming out of it too well (he was up against a slick New Labour performer).

 

 

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