The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

The first thing to establish is that 'The Good, The Bad and the Ugly' was a no.1 hit record for Hugo Montenegro and reached the top spot on the weekend the author was born!

But, in our media training sessions, we're often asked about good, bad or indifferent interviews. Well given the old maxim, 'there's no such thing as bad publicity', you could argue that the worst kind of interview is the 'indifferent' - instantly forgettable, two shades light of vanilla and nobody getting noticed!

Later we'll show you a link to the ugly, but 'talking up' the good media interviews is important for leaders to recognise, that coming under fire from a few people on Twitter, doesn't have to mean the end of your career or reputation.

Take new headteacher Matthew Tate from Hartsdown Academy in Margate, Kent, who sent 50 pupils home for having the wrong school uniform. 

Regardless of the rights or wrongs of his actions in some parents' minds, his message was that 90% of parents backed him and his strong stance on 'correct' uniform. A no nonsense approach to his policy, which came under fire, partly over its clarity.

Mr Tate made national headlines and agreed to the deluge of radio and live TV interviews, acquitting himself impressively under close scrutiny and not falling into some journalists' traps. His strong stance on standards led to parents campaigning at the school - some suggesting he should have given more time for parents to buy their children's gear. Mr Tate's use of examples regarding expensive trainers versus school shoes, demonstrated that he'd done his homework and hit the mark. 

The headteacher dealt with a headline grabbing 'Gestapo' moniker very well, when pressed, not by repeating the offending word, but with a measured suggestion that this term was offensive to people who'd fought in the war. Tate then stuck to his own guns, not taking questions personally and keeping his professional, measured tone throughout - pretty challenging three days into a new job! See his Channel 5 interview here;

Now for the Bad! MP's commonly fall foul of the media and you may be forgiven for thinking they should know better. Step forward Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry MP, on Sky's Murnaghan programme. The sub-text is that these two apparently have 'previous form' together during interviews.

So this exchange falls squarely into the category of 'don't take it personally and don't pick a fight with the journalist'!

Why? Because as an elected official, you can expect to be 'quizzed' about anything from popular culture and Bake Off, to the price of fish! The golden rule is do your homework! 

Another critical reason is because the whole point of appearing on TV is to make your point and get something across. This is lost in the ether if all people are talking about is your 'spat' with the interviewer. Take Jeremy Paxman and former Tory leader, Michael Howard. Few remember why Paxo quizzed him 12 times on the same point, only that he did!

By picking a row with Dermot Murnaghan, Ms Thornberry was excluding the viewing audience, the very people she was aiming her message at. #messagefail. She is entitled to move the debate to the issues she wants to cover, of course, but grace and finesse are a key element. Worse, she then returned to the original complaint towards the end of the interview. Do we expect more of our stateswomen?

It's the sort of mistake also being made by Jeremy Corbyn - knocking away a radio reporter's microphone outside his home. If you're not going to learn the rules of the media game, you'll come unstuck trying to play. Watch Emily's appearance here:

As for the Ugly? It really speaks for itself. Former MEP and UKIP member Godfrey Bloom. In a down-the-line interview for Channel 4 News, he attempts to defend the use of a racist, pejorative term and remains agitated throughout, asking Krishnan Guru-Murthy;"Look what is your problem with all this?" - before ripping out his ear piece and stopping the interview.


And that's the nub of it. The journalist doesn't 'have a problem with it' - in reality, it's worse - they don't care. Tomorrow, they'll be quizzing someone else. 

And finally, as they say, that piece of music...enjoy.

Article Author: Dave Mason

Dave is Mentor’s Head of Media Training. His extensive career in broadcasting spans 25 years across radio and television. He has coached members of major public and private sector organisations, as well as the UK Armed Forces and NATO around the world for the last five years. Dave is respected for his inspiring training, which is supportive and concentrates on fast learning development. A founding presenter and shareholder of Somerset’s Orchard FM, he went on to work extensively in commercial radio around the UK, as well as BBC News where he was a Correspondent at BBC Radio 5 Live and Radio 1 Newsbeat. Dave has been a TV presenter, reporter and producer at ITN in London, GMTV, (ITV Breakfast), ITV News (Westcountry and Wales) and HTV West. He was one of GMTV’s senior producers for a decade, covering major international, domestic, political and entertainment stories. His roles have included senior news producing and planning, undercover investigations, war reporting and features production. He still broadcasts as a pundit on BBC Radio and is a visiting lecturer at the Universities of Bath Spa, Gloucestershire and the Cardiff School of Journalism.