30th May 2018
When it comes to tough questions, we suggest to anyone we media train that you need to address the elephant in the room.
When the Defence Secretary failed to do this during an interview on Good Morning Britain, an elephant wandering past him in the Safari Park background may not have been a sign, but it was certainly surreal and led to former Number 10 comms chief Craig Oliver describing it as Alan Partridge-esque.
Stand-in presenter Richard Madeley repeatedly asked Gavin Williamson whether he regretted telling Russia to “shut up and go away” during the Salisbury poisoning case. First Mr Williamson paid tribute to medical staff. Asked the same question again, he talked about the UK working with its global allies. The question was ignored 4 times in all before Madeley declared the interview “terminated”.
Now it wasn’t Paxman vs Michael Howard of 1997, but it does show what happens when you choose to ignore rather than address a question. Ignoring a question is a red rag to a journalist, so it’s about acknowledging and addressing the question in some way, even if you're trying to avoid a direct answer to it.
The internet is littered with examples of ignored questions, like this one from Blackberry’s Stephen Bates, and Mr Williamson has just become another YouTube search. It won’t do any lasting political damage but it will, what with all those elephants, make it hard to forget.
You can currently see Louise presenting and reporting on Channel 5 News. Louise anchored her own show on Bloomberg Television interviewing Europe’s business leaders and politicians. She has covered major news stories as a correspondent for Sky News, Channel 4 News and Bloomberg Television.
Chloe reads the news on Channel 5 News. As a Sky News Presenter Chloe anchored across the channel’s output, interviewing major politicians and analysts, and handling breaking news on a daily basis. She has interviewed people from all walks of life as a reporter and presenter on both television and radio for Sky Arts, Magic FM and Monocle 24.
Adam’s camerawork is on the screen every day across ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5. In the past, Adam worked for Sky News where he covered everything from the war in Afghanistan to the Oscars in LA. He has more than 20 years’ experience and his films won Best News Item at the Monte Carlo Television and Film Festival two years running.
Richard has 20 years' experience on the frontline of news. After producing daily bulletins for 5 News, he then took on the role of Deputy Editor before moving to ITV News in the same position.
Now with experience in PR, Richard has real insight into what makes a story - and how best to sell it.