Thursday, 18 February 2010

An Hour with ITN Political Correspondent Chris Ship

Yesterday evening I spent an hour in the company of Chris Ship as he gave a talk to journalism students at Southampton Solent University (a few other PR students and I gatecrashed).

I went along partly because my dissertation is on the subject of political blogging and the socialisation of young people into politics. Unfortunately Chris was there to talk to students about television journalism rather than politics. Although I raised my hand a few times, the journalism students were so keen to get their answers too that he didn't get to me - the girl at the front in the bright pink cardigan - until the very moment supervisor said 'time's up'. I did get a sympathetic nod from him, which is something.

The talk, which covered Chris' tactics in covering stories from Lord Mandelson eating an apple to the war in Afganistan, provided some interesting insights from a PR perspective. Understanding the tactics that television correspondents use to try and coax information out of politicians will prove helpful in the future. E.g. As a PR professional briefing a client about to be interviewed after a crisis.

Chris told us that when he is not filming live, he will often ask the same question over and over again in order to get a more in-depth answer before editing the clip. He said that many politicians are wise to it and will repeat exactly the same answer in exactly the same words however many times and however many ways in which a question is asked. These camera-smart politicians have prepared a message and they stick to it.

We were then shown the following video of ITV News Political editor, Tom Bradby, interviewing the new commons speaker, John Bercow. Bradby was attempting to stir up Bercow about the fact that he is an ex-Conservative MP who gained most of his support from the Labour party. As you can see, Bercow was having none if it:

What I would like to know is who do you think comes off worse in this clip - Tom Bradby or John Bercow?

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