“I have learned a valuable lesson…

First published in Wain's World Salisbury Journal: Photograph of the Author by

…about dealing with the national media” writes Salisbury MP John Glen after being “done up like a kipper” by Channel 4 News in a report about the plight of low-paid workers.

The report had focussed on the Trussell Trust’s revelation that the soaring cost of living means that even people in paid jobs are now relying on help from the TT’s food-bank.

By chance, I’d seen the report and was astonished when John Glen apparently suggested that the problem lay in people having the wrong priorities – familiar to economists as “secondary poverty”. But Mr Glen says a C4 crew recorded a 20-minute interview, and then used a 30-second clip which was highly damaging.

That’s totally unprofessional, and no doubt there will already have been a searching internal inquiry. But how can he ensure it doesn’t happen again? Easy. In future he should ask the producer what areas will be covered, and how the interview will fit into the planned story.

If they start talking about “balance” beware – the interviewee will be shown as taking sides. Secondly he should ask how long the interviewer wants. Most clips used nowadays are 15-second sound-bites. If the interview drags on, stop the recording and ask why.

And finally, I’d advise anyone who gets really done over to tell Ofcom. Although it never happened to me, a colleague once had a story referred to the old Broadcasting Complaints Commission, and the huge amount of paperwork involved dragged on for months, infuriating his bosses. That can harm a reporter’s career, so it’s a real sanction.

Watching The Promise on television…

… has been fascinating. I was seven when Stern Gang terrorists hanged two British Army sergeants in an orange-grove, and I can still remember the photograph on every front page.

So, like many of my generation, it’s been interesting to see what the producers have got right and spotting mistakes. One I noticed was the hero (a Para) firing his sten-gun while clutching the magazine. You never held a sten like that because the notoriously loose magazine-catch meant the mag would fall off. Instead you tucked your hand underneath and clasped the barrel.

I know, I know, I really must get out more...

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