Environmental Health Officers' conference: lecture. Sample containing about 36016 words speech recorded in public context

11 speakers recorded by respondent number C863

PS62G X m (a, age unknown) unspecified
PS62H X m (b, age unknown) unspecified
PS62J X m (c, age unknown) unspecified
PS62K X m (nf, age unknown) unspecified
PS62L X m (bs, age unknown) unspecified
PS62M X m (ro, age unknown) unspecified
PS62N X m (f, age unknown) unspecified
PS62P X m (g, age unknown) unspecified
PS62R X f (lf, age unknown) unspecified
KRPPSUNK (respondent W0000) X u (Unknown speaker, age unknown) other
KRPPSUGP (respondent W000M) X u (Group of unknown speakers, age unknown) other

1 recordings

  1. Tape 139401 recorded on unknown date.


a (PS62G) [1] Mr President Ladies and Gentlemen as the Chairman of South Cambridgeshire District Council it does give me great pleasure to welcome the Institute of Environmental Health Officers to Girton College here in South Cambridgeshire this morning.
[2] I understand that your institution covers not only Cambridgeshire but also Norfolk and Suffolk, so my welcome is a particular one to those delegates who have travelled here from neighbouring counties today, and I trust that your journey on such a pleasant morning was a really good one and that you'll find that this symposium is going to be very worthwhile.
[3] I understand that this is the third Cambridge symposium, and this is the third time also that you have come to Girton College.
[4] Previous topics have been presenting the legal case, environmental health in Europe 1992.
[5] It seems that ... with such a background the theme of your thoughts during the course of these symposiums has been getting the message across, and certainly when you turn to the one that you have this time, of the media, you are really getting involved in getting the message across.
[6] As I said earlier, I'm pleased that you've ... come to Girton for this symposium, come away from your normal surroundings in the perhaps ... stuffy office in some district council to ... the beauty of the wide open spaces here out in the countryside.
[7] I hope too that this beautiful countryside and this beautiful college will be conducive to good thoughts, reflections and reappraisals, and if I might say to the men I hope there are not too many of the female students floating up and down the corridors to further divert your attention.
[8] Of course at the moment environmental health is very much an in subject, especially with the Environmental Protection Act of 1990, and your profession has the marvellous opportunity of seeking to safeguard the environment and also the threats that we have at the present time which are upon the environment, ... from so many sources but, most of all particularly in the eastern counties, from the population explosion, which we here in South Cambridgeshire know quite a bit about.
[9] South Cambridgeshire District Council has recognized the important part that environmental health officers have to play within the work of the District Council, and for some time now the work of the Department has been carried on under the hat of the Legal, Housing and Health Director.
[10] Quite recently the Environmental Department has become semi-autonomous with Russell Jones as its Chief Environmental Health Officer and we know the good work which Russell has done over the years.
[11] We're particularly proud of him in South Cambridgeshire, as we're also proud that so many of our environmental health officers like Alan Hobson [...] do sterling work for us, and we are looking to them in the in the future with this semi-autonomy that they've been given to really take on board the opportunities which have been given to them under the 1990 Act to really go to town on environmental health.
[12] As we look around us, we see particularly in the field of litter that there is so much to do, and I'm sure that this is one area where we shall be looking to improve our country and improve our countryside.
[13] I'm very sorry that as soon as I have finished this welcome this morning that I have got to leave you, and I am very sorry that I shall not be able to return this evening for your dinner which ... I would originally look forward very much to but I trust that you will enjoy the company of the Chairman of our Environmental Services Committee, Councillor Robin Draga , who is attending on my behalf.
[14] We find today that using the media is ... something which we all want to do, we all want to get our message across, we all want to get over our aims and our objectives.
[15] Sometimes we find that getting across the message and the work which the Council is doing is not always an easy one.
[16] Of course in the past this has often been the lack of interest which has been shown by district councils, who have tried to ignore the existence of the press.
[17] However the press does exist, the media exists, and with it we have got local television and local radio.
[18] The media has got some message to give, and we want to be part of that message.
[19] It's not always easy.
[20] We in South Cambridgeshire feel from time to time sitting on the doorstep of a university city that we are often ignored and I'm sure that ... that is a very fair criticism as far as our District Council is concerned.
[21] And so you through this ... symposium today, particularly those of you who come from South Cambridgeshire, have an opportunity ... to learn, and we trust that through your learning you'll be able to educate the media that we really do exist in South Cambridgeshire.
[22] And so I hope that, as you go away from this place, that you will really go away with the knowledge, and with the technical know-how, to put across the work which, as I said earlier, we all recognize is a very important part in these coming months and years.
[23] And so finally I must say to you once again, welcome to South Cambridgeshire, and I hope that this will be a very pleasant and a very informative symposium.
[24] Thank you very much for allowing me to come.
b (PS62H) [26] Right.
[27] It's my pleasure and honour on behalf of the Eastern Centre to welcome you to this ... third Cambridge symposium.
[28] This is carrying on a long tradition of Eastern Centre get-togethers for E H Os, ... we've done residential courses every two years for I don't know how many years.
[29] This is the seventh one that I've attended, but no doubt there are people present who've attended even more.
[30] I'd like to extend a particular welcome to those people not from the Eastern Centre, we 'd like to meet new faces, new people all the time, we certainly extend a good welcome to them.
[31] The subject of this year's symposium, as the Councillor has just said, is using the media — we'll hear more about that later.
[32] It's my duty to cover certain pastoral matters before we actually get on to the business of the seminar.
[33] ... Firstly the rooms that we'll be using.
[34] Obviously this room.
[35] This is Old Hall.
[36] This'll be used for all sessions except for group work.
[37] The exception to that is that Group ... Group B — you'll see in your folders you've all been allocated to a group — Group B's session work will be in this work.
[38] Group A will be using the Stanley Library which is directly opposite where you've just had coffee, and Group C will be using the Reception Room which is back towards the Porter's Lodge on the right hand side.
[39] Tea and coffee during the seminar will be served in the Stanley Library.
[40] The good news is that the bar will be open today from twelve forty-five at lunchtime, and from six forty-five this evening.
[41] The bar steward has asked if he can close the bar at eleven thirty tonight.
[42] [laugh] I'm sure he'll be more accommodating [laugh] if we
c (PS62J) [43] See what we can do.
b (PS62H) [44] [laugh] You're certainly welcome to take any drinks through to lunch with you, whatever you want, but ... tonight for the dinner we've ... there is wine provided so there's no need to take drink through.
[45] Meals will be served in Hall which ... is sort of round the back here.
[46] Anybody who doesn't know where Hall is I would suggest they tag themselves on to an old lag.
[47] Several people here know exactly where they [laugh] where they're going.
[48] ... Breakfast is served from eight fifteen in the morning, but before that the Eastern Centre Swimming Gala will be held in the pool at seven o'clock.
[49] okay?
[50] I know seven o'clock's a bit late for several people here ... for getting up, so anybody's who particularly keen on fitness can join Norman Foster who sits over there, for his early morning run.
[51] That's all right is it Norman?
nf (PS62K) [...]
b (PS62H) [52] [laugh] ... Can we please be prompt at nine o'clock tomorrow morning for the start of the sessions tomorrow.
[53] ... I've already mentioned the groups that you've been allocated to.
[54] ... You'll see ... from your programmes that there is a little bit of group work involved.
[55] ... Each group has got a seminar organizer in that group, ... so anybody with any particular problems, if they go to the seminar organizer, he or she will try ... their best to sort it out.
[56] The seminar organizers are Robert Osborne, who's just crept in, ... Judy Rainer — I wonder where Judy's sitting — [...] with the hand ... Ivor Bertram who hasn't arrived yet, he'll be arriving at lunchtime, ... and myself.
[57] So any problems at all ... that you think we might be able to help with, just let us know, we'll see what we can sort out.
[58] I hope you all enjoy yourselves and I look forward to having a good and informative seminar with you.
[59] okay Now come to our first session.
[60] Again referring to your programme you'll see that most of the ... seminar will be taken by Face the Media.
[61] Face the Media are present here, the two people sat at the front.
[62] I'd like to introduce you to Dr Brian Smith, from the University of Sussex; he's a free-lance broadcaster and a partner with Liz Felcombe in Face the Media.
[63] Liz Felcombe is a District Councillor with Brighton and a member of both the Institute of Journalists and the Institute of Public Relations.
[64] She's a council member of the National Society for Clean Air.
[65] She's also a past chairman of an environmental ... of the Environmental Health Committee at Brighton so be careful what you say.
[66] ... Without further ado I think [...] this over to Face the Media.
bs (PS62L) [67] Thank you very much.
[68] It's always slightly daunting at this particular time because you're introduced as some sort of guru and people expect great things.
[69] Now I'm going to come clean right at the beginning.
[70] We're going to dangle all sorts of ideas in front of you, challenge you in all sorts of ways, but we want you very much to feel free to share your experiences and to say ‘Hey!
[71] It wasn't like that for us,’ or ‘I don't think this'll work,’or ‘I tried this last Tuesday week,’or something like that.
[72] So what we're going to do is to trail our coats in a variety of sessions, to suggest a variety of things to you, and see whether you agree with them or not so please feel free to come in as and when appropriate and ... see what you think.
[73] This session's about being pro-active rather than reactive.
[74] And really I'm going to start off and then Liz is going to come in on a particular aspect of this.
[75] I'm going to start off by suggesting why people like yourselves ought to be much more pro-active, take a much more lead in terms of doing things with the media.
[76] And I'm going to suggest it's in your interest to learn how the media operate, and it's in your interest to cultivate the media, and it's in your interest to actually persuade the media to do a lot of the work which you would normally do for yourselves if I could put it that way.
[77] So the theme of this morning is ‘Be pro-active and not reactive’, and I shall come back to that again in a few minutes.
[78] The sort of things that we're going to cover during the two days are these areas.
[79] What we call the public relations interview, which is ... often ... a radio interview but can take different forms, is a situation in which you have an opportunity, in a fairly low-key way, to sell something, to promote something, to get a message across, and if you are successful, you can find that the media will do a lot of your hard work for you in this area.
[80] There's another situation, the hard news interview, which again is often on radio though it can take other forms and using other forms of the media, which Liz'll talk about in a moment and I won't say more at this stage.
[81] We're going to cover press releases, a very important way of feeding information into the media generally, and there I'm glad to say you're going to do a lot of the work — you've already been primed to do your homework, I hope you have — and you're going to do work from group and we're going to work with you to see whether we can sharpen up some of these press releases.
[82] Writing for radio is an aspect which we will touch on tomorrow, and television again we're going to talk about tomorrow, there's less opportunity ... being realistic to be on television but the impact is probably greater because many of us watch the [...] box and so forth.
[83] In all these matters the more you know about the media and the more you know about what they're looking for and the more you know about techniques and the more you can develop things, the greater the possibilities are and the greater the opportunities.
[84] So again we're going to come back to several themes in a fairly repetitive way, and we — don't forgive us for this if you don't like it, but we're certainly going to talk about certain things again and again and again, but what it really comes down to, is ‘Learn what the media's all about, learn what they want, learn what you can provide, see whether you can match this, in a sense, and see whether you can make it work to your advantage’.
[85] This is really what it comes down to in a variety of ways.
[86] You'll notice a distinct omission there.
[87] We've said ... we haven't listed anything and there's no formal slot on the programme for the press in general, talking to journalists and so forth .
[88] That's deliberately because the programme is a tight one and you can't fit everything in all the time, but we'll refer to this at several different points particularly talking about press releases a little bit later this morning, and also you ... we will find that a lot of the general comments we're made making apply to press situations, talking to journalists in general, and writing articles for ... from that point of view also.
[89] So.
[90] The question is, first of all, and the question you must be asking yourselves right at the beginning is, ‘Why face the media, why have anything to do with them, at all?’
[91] I mean they're miserable people who come in and make your life awkward on occasions by asking awkward questions, you know ‘Why have you got rats in the basement?’
[92] ‘Why aren't you doing anything about the litter?’ etcetera etcetera etcetera ‘What are you going to do about this new Act which is coming in and have you got it all under control?’
[93] So a lot of people quite understandably say, ‘The media is ... something which is best kept out of here and if they're coming I shall hide under the table’ and so on.
[94] ... Our message is that ... have a think about an alternative possibility, about being much more high-key, much more ... pro-active rather than reactive.
[95] So I'm going to attempt in very quick terms a ... a rationalization for why it might be in your interest to do so.
[96] And I'm going to suggest, without going into great detail, that the media will actually help you promote your products, your organization, your services, your views, the information you need to share with the public, if in fact you can actually present it to them in such a way that they can use it.
[97] That's what it comes down to.
[98] And the problem is that most of the time you know what you want to say, but does it correspond to what people want to hear, or read, or listen to?
[99] You've got your job to do, your job is — you can define in several different ways, and no doubt you will do during the course of the morning, tomorrow, in the afternoon and tomorrow, but you need to understand what the media is all about.
[100] What do they want?
[101] What is their task?
[102] What are What are their What are they seeking?
[103] If you can understand what they're seeking, what their job's all about, then perhaps you can actually put the two things together.
[104] So we're going to talk about things like repackaging, restating in forms which are useful to the media, so that they can actually do some of your work for you.
[105] So our suggestion is that the media, if you get it right, effectively, efficiently, economically, can do a lot of work in terms of promotional, information sharing and so on, as education, other things, and you name it in the context of your particular interest and organization.
[106] Let me let me cite a commercial ... organization which, to give you an idea, I know you're not commercial in that particular sense, of what we're talking about.
[107] You all know, have you all come across The Body Shop?
[108] You know the, the [...] sells these ... oils and what-nots in bottles and so forth.
[109] Anita Ruddick started that in the mid-nineteen-seventies.
[110] We know about this because she's a local lady, down in Sussex.
[111] She started with a few pounds, about four thousand pounds which she managed to wangle from the local bank manager, a great vision, an enthusiasm but very little experience.
[112] But what she did have was an eye and an ear and a view about promotion right from the beginning.
[113] It so happened her first shop, called The Body Shop, opened next door to an undertaker's in Brighton.
[114] Now.
[115] You see?
[116] You see?
[117] Click click click.
[118] She telephoned the local press and said, ‘Do you realize there's a shop called The Body Shop opening next door to the undertaker's?
[119] Wouldn't that make a nice little story?’
[120] Silly story, but a beautiful one.
[121] All the photographers came down there.
[122] Click click photographs too, you know, undertaker's next to Body Shop, Anita standing on the on the doorstep and so forth.
[123] A lovely little fun piece.
[124] Overnight everyone in Brighton and Hove and the area knew that the Body Shop had opened.
[125] Now she had done what putting thousands of leaflets through letterboxes, what advertising by advertising space in newspapers and so forth couldn't possibly have done, and she'd done it free.
[126] And she got it.
[127] She claims she's never spent a penny on advertising ever since.
[128] And yet she has one of the highest profiles imaginable, because she recognizes what she is doing, in a variety of ways, and the media-worthy nature of this, and she feeds the media with all sorts of stories, all sorts of angles, all sorts of aspects, which actually help her cause.
[129] And they lap it up.
[130] And so she can cross that bit off her budget.
[131] There's a second situation which again Liz'll be dealing with.
[132] What to do ... How to deal with situations where there ... that have gone wrong [...] with minimum damage, and I won't comment further on that at this moment.
[133] So I want to suggest that success, if I have perhaps have slightly persuaded you that the media are worth taking seriously, that success comes through a variety of things.
[134] First of all understanding, studying the format of various things.
[135] It's no good sending a press release which is couched in the language of The Times, to your local newspaper, or The Sun, or something like that.
[136] They wouldn't recognize it if it hit them between the eyes, of its use.
[137] What you've got to do is actually have some understanding of the needs of a ... of particular newspapers, radio programmes, television programmes, by studying, look at it, see what it who's it for, what language do they use, how do they phrase things, what's their format, and then you can get yourself in the position where you can say, ‘I can do something like that, I can produce something like that.’
[138] Now there's a little piece, can I mention a little piece in the local thing, there's a little press release here which ... Robert ... produced and sent off to the local newspaper.
[139] What newspaper is it, Robert?
ro (PS62M) [140] Cambridge News.
bs (PS62L) [141] Cambridge Evening News, and it talks about environmental health officers meeting at Girton College to train in the media, and it actually mentions some of the locals, people like Robert Satchwell, who's going to join us later, Julian Dunne, John Venables and so forth.
[142] The point is here that he has mentioned in his press release a number of okay local people, and by doing this in this particular way he has greatly increased the possibility and probability of ending up with a piece in the local newspaper.
[143] Now, if he'd written in a more highfalutin way, or he'd talked about Liz and myself, or a variety of other things, in a very pontificating way, it may never have got in the newspaper because they would have said, ‘What is the relevance?
[144] Would our readers have been interested?
[145] What is the local contact?’ and so on and so forth.
[146] So that's a very nice example of putting something in context.
[147] There's also a bad example there but we'll come back to that later, Robert.
[148] [laugh] So — you can't going to get all the credit for this
f (PS62N) [149] I'll give you some [...] lessons
bs (PS62L) [150] okay, okay [laugh] Yes, so, the point is actually studying formats of newspapers and listening, viewing, reading, thinking ‘What's that all about?
[151] Could I do something of that kind?’
[152] It's understanding what the need is and understanding what need you can actually supply.
[153] You know, have you got a bit which could be put in such a form that it would actually make sense and appeal to this particular viewership, audienceship and so on and so forth.
[154] And that means targeting the stuff you send out, and I'm amazed at what terrible bad targeting a lot of people do.
[155] They produce press releases and they send it off and they feel terribly bitter and twisted and unhappy because nobody takes any notice of it, but they don't realize that what they've actually produced makes no sense at all to the person receiving it on the other end.
[156] Ninety per cent plus of all press releases go into waste paper baskets.
[157] Firstly because editors and journalists and so forth get an awful lot of them, and don't have time to pore over them, and secondly because they pick them up, ... they sort of come in, they look at it and say, ‘I can't see how I can use this.’
[158] Now why can't they use it?
[159] Because they can't see the angle.
[160] And all journalists, all broadcasters, all people in the media, are looking for an angle.
[161] Now sometimes it's a subtle, intellectual, sophisticated angle, and sometimes it's a silly, sexy, low-key angle.
[162] But they're all looking for an angle.
[163] They've all got a vision about their listeners, their viewers, their readers and so forth, and when they pick something, a press release, or when they hear a story or something like that, their mind's going click click click ‘How can I use this in a way that I can turn it into a form which is usable for my people?’ in a sense.
[164] Now if you understand that, if you're actually targeting, you want to get something into a national paper or local paper or something, you need to think at about your particular item you want to get across and think ‘What sort of angle could actually be useful for that particular outlet?’
[165] And if you can think of that, you can repackage your particular thing not in terms of your own interests and ideas and so forth, but you can package it in such a way that it's intriguing, or at the very least, the people who are going you hope will use it can actually see how they could use it.
[166] You see the point I'm making?
[167] So you're in a marvellous position.
[168] They might or might not ask ... spot the point, they may or may not answer the right questions, but you're in a marvellous point of view, position, to actually be able to spot angles.
[169] So we're going to talk a lot about repackaging.
[170] And then we're also going to talk about practising, because it's not a one-shot thing.
[171] If you produce a lovely little item which fits perfectly on a particular radio programme, or newspaper, and that happens to be the week that it's the county show, or an earthquake, or something like that, there's no way you're going to get it in, because there's too much competition, and the next week it's dead.
[172] So you mustn't be bruised and disappointed because your impeccable piece is turned down.
[173] You got to practise and you got to persevere.
[174] So there's a lot to do with that particular thing we're going to talk about.
[175] Now lastly I just want to mention the ... what we call the P R interview, and two or three aspects of this.
[176] First of all, the great mistake most people [...] when they're talking to press people is to assume that they know what they're talking about.
[177] ‘okay, what do you want to know?
[178] Welcome, you know, I'm happy to talk to you, what do you want to know?’
[179] And then you ... they ask you a number of questions, often pretty stupid questions, they go away and write a bit which contains some errors, or they broadcast a bit which doesn't seem quite right, and then you feel cross and you say ‘I'm never going to speak to that lot again.’
[180] Now I think half the problem is that most of the people working in the press are in fact amateurs in the sense they're not specialists in your particular subject except perhaps in the trade press.
[181] They're talking about your lot today, tomorrow it's going to be about cricket, the day after it's going to be about something else, it's ... and they have to pick up things very quickly.
[182] And it's understandable coming in, that they can very easily get the wrong end of the stick.
[183] Now how can you avoid that?
[184] How can you help them?
[185] Well one of way doing it is actually to expand, be very up front in terms of the information you're supplying and the way you actually supply it.
[186] And let me illustrate that in a context let's say a local radio station.
[187] A lot of people are invited in to local radio and it's a very good outlet, it's a very good way of learning the game.
[188] They're invited in to talk about a particular thing that's coming in, about noise or about rats in the basement or about how to [...] , and the interviewer has a very vague idea it's a topic he's heard it, he's thought about it, he thinks it's a local thing, and he's actually trying to get something out of it in a sense.
[189] Now you can go in and say, ‘okay I'm your local E H O expert, what do you want to know?’
[190] Or you could go in and say, ‘Listen, ... , can I suggest two or three aspects of this that it's worth covering?
[191] First of all you need to know that the legislation says that, you need to know the current practice is that, and I can tell you a couple of funny stories about what happened to Mrs Ingalls down the street.’
[192] Now in that sense, you're not telling him how to do his job, or her how to do her job, you're actually offering some material.
[193] And nine times out of ten people in that situation, when they're actually creating their article or their programme or anything else, will take that material, use their own style, wrap it up, and as it were throw it out, and if you're pro-active in that sense, you stand a very very much better chance of them getting it right.
[194] So if somebody telephones you and says, ‘Can I ask you some questions?
[195] Can I help you ... can ... will you come into the studio?
[196] Will you do these things?’
[197] The answer is ‘Yes, certainly, I'll talk to you, I'll come in.
[198] What sort of things do you want to explore?’
[199] And if they say something very specific and knowledgeable you know that this chap knows what he's talking about, and therefore you can prepare your answer and [...] ... Sorry?
g (PS62P) [200] Pass it on to somebody else.
bs (PS62L) [201] Pass it on to somebody else.
[202] Run like hell and pray for rain, as they say.
lf (PS62R) [203] That's the expression.
bs (PS62L) [204] Alternatively, if you, if he says, ‘Well I want to have a, I read something and I want to have a discussion,’ you think this chap doesn't know anything about it, and you actually do a lot of the work ... for him or her in the circumstances.
[205] So that's the do da .
[206] Two things on the P R interview, and I'll bring my section to a close.
[207] The hook.
[208] Again and again and again, one comes to a thing which is called ‘the hook’ in the trade.
[209] That's the start of anything.
[210] The most important start to a radio programme, of a newspaper article, of a television programme, is the start.
[211] Somehow people producing this, preparing this have to think of a way in which they can trap the listener, the viewer, the reader and get their interest.
[212] It depends on the nature of the programme, it depends on the nature of the journal and so forth, sometimes it's a photograph, sometimes it's a headline, sometimes it's a thumping first paragraph.
[213] But you just think how you read newspapers.
[214] You pick up your the newspaper you normally read, and you say, ‘Ha!
[215] Right.
[216] Forty-thousand pounds something up.’
[217] Do you think, ‘Wonder what that is.
[218] I'm intrigued by that,’ and so you move into the article.
[219] And the people that write for the Sun know that the readers of the Sun will read that if they have a headline like that.
[220] And the same is true for the Guardian, for the Times, the Independent, anything else.
[221] They all have their styles, they all have their formats, and they're all written in such a way that they draw you in.
[222] That's called ‘the hook’.
[223] And in a radio programme, you have exactly the same thing, it's the first fifteen or twenty seconds which makes you decide ‘Am I going to listen to this, or am I going to switch this off, and go out and make a cup of tea or take the dog for a walk?’
[224] So they're always looking for some intriguing way of saying metaphorically, ‘Hey!
[225] This is for you.’
[226] So we're going to come back to that at several different points during the day or two, and lastly, bat and ball.
[227] There's a sense in which the very best type of interview, the very best sort of particularly on something like radio or television, is one in which somebody is not being manipulated by somebody else, but is genuinely a sort of backwards and forwards situation.
[228] And there are a number of fallacies about the media, radio and television in particular, you will be going into this at various points during the couple of days, and one fallacy is that radio and television are meant for mass audiences.
[229] Well if you think that then you're not going to be a good performer, because they are our chief intimate media.
[230] They are actually being watched or listened to by small groups of people.
[231] And the person that goes into the radio studio and thinks, ‘I'm talking to a hundred thousand people’ or something like that, is doomed, because the voice and approach you use is a bit like the voice and approach I have now, I'm sort of talking to a largish group of people.
[232] Now I wouldn't talk to you individually, I'd overwhelm you if I was like this.
[233] So the people who start talking to the Nüremburg rally [...] sound terrible.
[234] What you got to do in that context is forget all the equipment, all the rest of it, try and focus on the chap you're talking to in the studio, and just have a conversation with him.
[235] And if there happen to be other people listening, all well and good.
[236] And that is successful radio.
[237] And the same is true for television.
[238] Well, I've trailed my coat, I've said a whole lot of things in hopefully to intrigue you, to start you off, merely in terms of rather positive public relations, the media are good and they're lovely and you ought to encourage them, and ... really, my message in the very first part is what I started off with.
[239] Be pro-active, not reactive.
[240] Have I persuaded you?
[241] Have I convinced you?
[242] I don't know.
[243] This will come out in the discussion, informally and formally during the course of the day, but let me hand over to my colleague, who will talk about ... the other side of the coin.
lf (PS62R) [244] Yes.
[245] He's Mr Nice Guy, you see, he talks about going in when you have something nice and positive to promote and you think he doesn't actually read The Sun.
[246] For a small fee I'll tell you different.
[247] The news interview, on the whole, is event-driven.
[248] It's when something has gone wrong, ... , somebody, your local radio producer picks it up, he says, ‘There's been an outbreak of Legionnaire's Disease in a Butlin's Holiday Camp.
[249] This is terrible, let's go and talk about it.
[250] ... The Chairman of the County Council has just got food poisoning ... Where did he pick it up?
[251] What restaurant was he in?
[252] Have you ever inspected the restaurant?
[253] Etcetera etcetera.
[254] And that is the time that you have learn to cover your backside in sheet steel.
[255] And it's not always that easy because on the whole, news interviewers are a much tougher breed than the nice gentle Brians of this world who are ... the disc jockey sitting in a studio with two hours to fill, pile of records, let's get A, B and C in and do a nice ten minute slot with them.
[256] Mostly news interviewers are a much tougher breed.
[257] They know what they want and they intend to get it.
[258] They know how to set traps, they know how to ask you questions which will lead you into using emotive words, they will have you on tape, they will also possibly be in a position to edit that tape, and at the end of the day you cannot say, ‘I didn't say that,’ because I have a piece of tape that says you actually did say it.
[259] And if I'm a wicked, evil news reporter, I'm going to leave out all the nice, positive things that you said, because you went on for so long ... I'm interviewing you at half past twelve for the one o'clock news.
[260] What I don't want is ten minutes of waffle and one and a half minutes of pure gold.
[261] It's going to take me far too long to prospect for the gold.
[262] And I will have a piece of tape which says, ‘Well yes of course you would expect the Chairman of the County Council to ... get food poisoning in this particular restaurant because we have prosecuted him three times.
[263] It's the Chairman's fault for actually eating there.’
[264] You know, you understand what I'm saying.
[265] So the golden rule in a news interview is: listen to the question and only answer the question, and then stop talking.
[266] I've interviewed people sometimes on what I call fishing expeditions.
[267] I have a very vague idea of what this terrible crime is that I'm trying to get to the bottom of, that you have rats in the basement of your best hotel, or ... you know, there's a house falling down somewhere and you've done absolutely nothing about a closing order, any of these kind of things, but I don't know a lot about it.
[268] But I have just a feeling that there is something there.
[269] And what so often happens is I ask a fairly innocuous question.
[270] And you're so anxious to justify yourself, that you answer the question, and then you go on to tell me all the background behind it, and in so doing you give me a lovely piece of information which I didn't actually have when you walked into the room.
[271] Now if I am a good reporter, in a sense I'm going to let the original question flow past me as a starter, I may use it, I may not use it.
[272] What I am going to focus on is this terrible guilt feeling which is coming out while you're giving me all this information, and I can see one or two nodding heads, I guess, I guess some of you've been in that situation.
[273] So news interviews: listen to the question, answer the question, and stop talking.
[274] If I want more information, I'll ask a supplementary.
[275] If you say, ‘Well, we do lots of good things,’ and I say, ‘okay, for example, tell me one.’
[276] And I can ask another supplementary.
[277] You haven't given anything away.
[278] I've had to actually drag it out of you.
[279] Try and be positive, even though you are perhaps really with your back against a wall, ... in a situation that you really know that the department has done something really pretty awful.
[280] okay, you can't actually deny that this or that has happened.
[281] But try and be positive about it, and say, ‘Yes, this, I have to say this is a bad situation, ... , it's not a situation which has occurred before, we are taking very positive steps to ensure that it doesn't happen again, we have prosecuted Mr X, we have done whatever is appropriate.’
[282] Don't end up being apologetic.
[283] That's not what you're there for.
[284] You are there to do a damage limitation exercise, to do the best that you can in difficult circumstances.
[285] ‘No comment’ means ‘as guilty as hell’.
[286] Even the police have learned that now.
[287] The police, if they want to say ‘No comment’, they say, ‘I'm sure you'll understand that I can't comment on that particular aspect, the matter is sub judice, you wouldn't wish me to prejudice the [...] .
[288] That is ‘No comment’, but it's ‘No comment’ done in such a way that it is implying intelligence on the part of the audience, saying, ‘Well, you realize, of course, that if I were to comment on this, you know, it would prejudice either the chances of the prisoner if we catch him or, you know, any possible clues and so on .’
[289] So it is very unwise.
[290] If you have to say ‘No comment’ then do give a reason for it.
[291] One of the things you have to remember is that you do actually know quite a lot about how the media operate already.
[292] You presumably all listen to radio, watch television and so on.
[293] You know the nature of a news interview.
[294] You have what?
[295] A ten minute slot roughly.
[296] And in that ten minute slot there may be four or five stories.
[297] So what does that actually tell you about each story?
[298] It tells you that it is reported very crisply, very briefly.
[299] And that should inform your thinking when somebody rings you up and says, ‘My editor tells me that this happened.
[300] I want to come and talk to you.’
[301] The first question you should ask is, ‘okay, what's this for?’
[302] Is it for a nice, Brian-type P R interview, in which case you think, ‘Oh good, that probably means about ten minutes?
[303] Twelve minutes?
[304] Something very nice, laid back, I can afford to expand.’
[305] ‘No, this is for a news interview.’
[306] Immediately your brain says, ‘okay, that's got to be crisp.’
[307] So you say, ‘What is it you want to talk to me about?’
[308] ‘Well, we've seen this article in the paper.
[309] We want to come and talk to you about — whatever it might be.
[310] Salmonella, Legionnaire's — I mean, let's have some real crises while we're about it.
[311] [laugh] And you then have to say to yourself, ‘okay, now what — what sort of information are they are going to want and how crisply and briefly can I give that information?’
[312] If you need statistics, jot them on a little piece of paper.
[313] You have to accept that you are going into an alien environment.
[314] And I can promise you that under pressure you may very well forget the name of your mother, your favourite aunt, ... possibly even your wife's name.
[315] So give yourself what help you can.
[316] If you're going to need statistics, just a little crib card.
[317] ‘Well, we've only had twelve cases of salmonella in the last twenty-five years, and this is very unusual,’ and so on and so forth.
[318] Give yourself a little bit of help.
[319] It will also help to concentrate your mind so that you do actually keep the statements reasonably brief.
[320] If you don't ask those questions, you are going to find yourself very confused, because you will not know what mode you are expected to operate in.
[321] Now, just as you'll hear about the hook, the brief, the repackaging, you will hear quite a lot about modes over the next couple of days.
[322] Because really all we're saying to you is, ‘Switch into whatever is the appropriate mode for what is expected of you.’
[323] The news mode?
[324] Quick, short, decisive answers.
[325] P R, Brian-type interview?
[326] Expansion, give him a little straw out of which he can make the bricks, have a couple of good stories and so on.
[327] Learn to operate in the right mode.
[328] The other thing is that if you do ask these questions when the guy gets on the telephone to you, he's going to say, ‘Here is somebody who knows something about the media, who knows how we operate.’
[329] And you should not let the media be like a juggernaut and roll all over you.
[330] You should actually say, ‘They need me as much as I need them.’
[331] Because without you and, and other people like you there wouldn't be any local radio.
[332] So don't be afraid to ask the questions: Is this live?
[333] Am I going into a studio?
[334] Am I going to sit down comfortably in a studio and be interviewed, or is this guy going to come to my office with a piece of equipment like that, which we will be using later, a ewer , or a Nigra whatever piece of portable equipment they have.
[335] In which case it can be edited.
[336] Editing is both a good and a bad thing in a sense.
[337] It means that I can edit out any really awful mistakes that you make, or indeed any mistakes that I as an interviewer make, but it also means I can edit out some of the things you wish you'd left in.
[338] If you're live, you've got to dig yourself out of it if you make a real mistake, but if it's — if it's on a ... portable machine, if it's editable, be sure that it probably will be edited.
[339] Don't be pressurized into giving an interview.
[340] The phone rings and a guy says, ‘I want to talk to you about this.’
[341] ‘Yes, fine.
[342] When?’
[343] ‘Well, like, ten minutes ago, because I need it for the next programme.’
[344] Now, everybody's instinct is to think, ‘My goodness, I must give way, I, you know, they really need it, I must talk to him down the telephone.’
[345] Don't be pressured.
[346] If it's something you can answer quite easily, okay, you may feel you want to make a comment there and then.
[347] If it isn't, say, ‘I would like a little time to think about this, I need to get some facts and figures, I'm sure you wouldn't wish me to give you incorrect information.
[348] I will phone you back in five minutes.’
[349] That gives you time to get your head together, to pick up any appropriate ... notes that you may want, it may mean you want to actually consult somebody else.
[350] Don't be pressured.
[351] Try not to go on the defensive.
[352] I've said, Be positive.
[353] But there will be situations where you really feel you may be defending a lost cause, because after all things do go quite disastrously wrong.
[354] But again, take time to think about it.
[355] Take time to say, ‘How can I present my organization in the best light? okay We've made a mistake.’
[356] But try and always end on a positive note.
[357] And I think above all the message that we would want to ... to give to you is, Don't let the media happen to you.
[358] Try and be as much in control of the situation as you can be.
[359] There will be situations where it's, it's more difficult.
[360] Try and be as much in control of the situation as you can be, and ask the right questions.
[361] And then, do your best when you get there.
[362] And I think that's probably about as much as I want to say actually about the news ... the news interviews.
[363] I think, I hope we've pointed out to you the essential differences between what Brian would be looking for as a, as a magazine editor if you like, and what I would be looking for as a, as a news editor.
[364] okay?
Unknown speaker (KRPPSUNK) [365] Right.
[366] Thank you.
bs (PS62L) [367] So — shall we split them into the two groups straight away, Liz?
lf (PS62R) [368] ... I — Yes, I would think so.
bs (PS62L) [369] Right.
lf (PS62R) [370] I think that — we've got three groups but we're going to make you two for the purposes of this exercise. [laugh]
bs (PS62L) [371] Rather than just listening to us [...] do all the work, we're going to divide up into two groups just to do one or two ... trial interviews as it were, to get the feeling for the thing, to get some of your ... opinions coming up.
[372] Can I suggest, quite arbitrarily, that you take all the people on that side, plus the three people in the front row, into the
lf (PS62R) [373] Right.
[374] We'll go over there.
bs (PS62L) [375] And — just for ten minutes, ten or fifteen minutes, and the others stay with me, and we'll just try our hands at a couple of [people talking]
bs (PS62L) [376] Right.
[377] We'll start, and move on.
[378] One of the features of, of the media which I think I mentioned earlier, certainly to one group if not the whole lot, is that people in the media cut things to the last moment, and the final second, it's part of the adrenaline, we've a chance to, make people move in.
a (PS62G) [379] Bob Satchwell?
b (PS62H) [380] Yes.
lf (PS62R) [381] He's just arrived.
bs (PS62L) [382] Just arrived, has he?
[383] Well that's exactly what I mean, a very good illustration of somebody [laugh] who makes himself more important by coming in [...] fifteen and a half seconds late, which is not so late for a corporate session, but is late enough to, to make everyone worry and so on in that time.
[384] So I think what I will do is, in view of the fact that [...] be brave and get here, I think I will still
lf (PS62R) [385] Yes.
bs (PS62L) [people talking]
lf (PS62R) [386] I think so, yes, that's right.
bs (PS62L) [387] [people talking] various aspects.
[388] What we really want to do is to get him to respond to some of our press releases and to comment from his perspective [...] of what the press is actually looking for.
[389] He's ... he's shot himself in the foot in one sense, because he doesn't know what we've said already, so he may come and say exactly the same thing that we've been saying, in which case we will cheer and you will boo.
lf (PS62R) [laugh]
bs (PS62L) [390] For obvious reasons.
[391] Or he may come and contradict everything we've said, in which case you will cheer and we
lf (PS62R) [392] We creep out the door! [laugh]
bs (PS62L) [393] So let me just say a few things before he does arrive, and catch his breath and perhaps have a cup of tea, on, on a topic which we, it's not fully listed but I think is worth just mentioning, and that is ... writing for the press, because it may occur to you and in fact you may yourself on occasions, write things for the press.
[394] That's another way of doing things.
[395] You may write articles, you may write little bits and actually send them.
[396] There's a lot of free-lance work which is actually used in the media, and there's a lot of opportunity for people.
[397] In fact it's sometimes said that it's one of the very great privileges of the public is that they can, by dint of writing something, and putting it in an envelope with a stamp on it, get it to arrive on an editor's desk, and have the editor at least give a cursory glance if not a more serious glance at what's going on, so it's a privilege and it's an opportunity in that case.
[398] So I just want to run through very, very quickly some of the things which will sound very familiar, because a lot of the, a lot of the information is very similar to the information we've been putting before you in terms of the radio and television situations.
[399] There's always a hook.
[400] I mentioned earlier as an illustration, when you pick up a, a magazine, ... magazine or a newspaper or a local magazine or whatever, you are conscious of the hook.
[401] Perhaps you're not conscious, you're unconscious of the hook, but you do respond to the hook.
[402] You pick it up and you thumb through and you think, you look at a headline, you look at a picture, you first look at a first paragraph and you think, ‘This is, this is for me.’
[403] And the same's true if you're actually writing something.
[404] If you're at the other end, you're actually producing something, bear in mind your opening sentence, your opening paragraph, your headline, your title, must actually hook people in.
[405] And if you don't do that, then you will not get your material accepted.
[406] If you do do that, then the editor will actually read it, because the editor will say, ‘This is somebody who knows what the game is.’
[407] And they will see, now that is appropriate, this is something which could interest, could concern my readers, and yes, they will be drawn in and they will read more of it.
[408] So that's an important first feature in terms of writing.
[409] House style is very important.
[410] You know when I was giving the introduction I talked about targeting, studying and so forth.
[411] You're an idiot if you submit an article or a piece of any kind to a magazine, to a newspaper, without actually having looked at it, and studied it, and asked yourselves the question, ‘What sort of house style is it?
[412] How do they write?
[413] Is it formal, informal chatty?
[414] How is it actually written?’
[415] Once you're doing that, in that, you're in the position, once you've done that, you're in the position to actually offer something yourself.
[416] Because you will not have it accepted if it is not in the house style, and there are conventions, appropriate, and quite different, according to the magazine, the newspaper, and so on and so forth, so you need to acquaint yourself with the house style.
[417] You need to bear in mind your target reader.
[418] Again, this is repetitive, but it's so important I had to keep saying it, that you know what you want to say, but does the person who's potentially the reader want to read it?
[419] The editor will know that, and the editor will be sensitive to the readership, and the editor will look at it, not through the eyes of an editor just as an individual, but will say, ‘Putting myself in the, in the position of my readers, would they want to read this?’
[420] And they'll read it from that point of view, and they'll accept it or reject it on that basis.
[421] You want to provide material which is sufficiently different, not the same that's there, but conforms to the house style, conforms to the format and so forth, but is sufficiently different and new, that it's actually worth printing.
[422] If there've been a whole series of articles ... articles about health or about food or something like that, no way are they going to do anything else on the subject, unless it's, it's brought in a very fierce readers' letters column or something like that, in which case they may be open for another slant.
[423] So you need to be familiar.
[424] And it's very insulting to an editor to receive an article on a subject, when the previous week or the previous month there's been a very similar article, because that says, ‘This person really doesn't know what my journal's about, what my newspaper's about’ and so forth.
[425] So you really, there's no excuse and no substitute for actually studying.
[426] New angles on old stories.
[427] Now one of, a very good way of getting in, is actually to think of the editor's problems during the course of the year.
[428] Problems associated with festivities — Christmas, Easter, summer holidays, pancake Tuesdays, things like that.
[429] Each time this comes up, an editor groans and thinks, ‘My goodness, we've got to say something about this, but can we say something different?’
[430] And that gives you a very good opportunity if you can think of something different, to actually put this forward.
[431] And it's very useful in, particularly in that respect, to give a bit more time, notice, I mean, several months in some cases, if you can actually signal, something that is useful that you can contribute and send it in, that will help them plan that far ahead.
[432] Normally you don't you wouldn't be working on that sort of time scale.
[433] Bear in mind the use of photographs.
[434] There are certain ... upper class journals that use photographs a great deal, so if you can get a good photograph of something, that will already begin to sell it, in a sense.
[435] And there are certain situations as if you can't have a photograph, in a sense, there's no point in it, because it, in itself, it's a rather dry little article, but if you can have a fun photograph with somebody doing something with it, that gives you another dimension, another possibility of a hook, another bit of scope for, for, for getting something into the media.
[436] So bear in mind photo opportunities and indeed getting photographs yourself and sending them in with appropriate captions ... to the magazine or newspaper and so on.
[437] In terms of photographs, do be careful how you handle them, do be careful how you send them in, don't write on the back the captions in ball-point pen so it comes through and wrecks the front of the photographs.
[438] Make sure that, sure they're good quality photographs, normally black and white, sharp, appropriate and so forth, and make sure that you've got sufficient details associated with it, often a good way of doing it is by having a, something typed on a slip of paper which is just very slightly stuck to the, to the back so the editor can actually ... see what the thing is and can take it off if he needs to when the picture is actually being ... reproduced.
[439] Bear in mind ... irritating things like perspective.
[440] If you're describing on the left is the mayor and on the right is something else, make sure it's viewed from the front of the photograph
lf (PS62R) [laugh]
bs (PS62L) [441] and not the back of the photograph, otherwise you'll get yourself in all sorts of difficulties and it may make a nice editorial, nice letters to the editor, but it would be very irritating to ... to the editor, because they hate having mistakes pointed out to them, and that's picture perspective.
lf (PS62R) [442] Very irritating to the mayor as well.
bs (PS62L) [443] Don't forget that if you are going to quote other people at length, you have to check on whether you're going to be in breach of copyright, you have to be careful how to quote things, and don't forget that if you are actually quoting you need to ... give some indication of where the quotation comes from and make and check out that that's all right , either by getting permission or, or actually giving, there's a certain degree of flexibility.
[444] You're allowed relatively small quotations of other people without being accused of plagiarism and breach of copyright, but you have to do it advisedly, so make sure you know the rules if you actually do this.
[445] Now, the last thing I want to say, because I know we, our guest is here, and so presumably has collected his thoughts and is able to leap into the breach, the last thing I want to say on this is, writing articles, writing pieces, is a game, another area where practice makes perfect.
[446] The skills come through doing it again and again and again, by sending them off, by getting a feeling for it, by practising.
[447] And one, if you ever wanted to do a bit of homework, to actually really get into the mood for something like this, you want to take a, a single piece, a single little newsy thing, and just practise, try and write it for half a dozen different outlets.
[448] You know, exactly the same thing, but changing the language, changing the format, and changing the so forth in such a way that it would correspond to a woman's magazine, or a local newspaper or a national newspaper or a, or a trade magazine and so forth.
[449] Exactly the same thing, that's a very good way of actually teaching yourself a house style.
[450] I always say ‘one last thing’, but I always add another last thing to a last thing because I'm an academic by nature and that's, that's the curse of the profession.
[451] Bear in mind how things are still to some extent put into newspapers these days.
[452] You start, by and large, with the all the story and the headline, all the picture, all the first paragraph, and then you expand, you go into ever-increasing bits, ... loops in terms of adding additional information.
[453] You see these, that's how these things are written.
[454] They're done because the old-fashioned way of doing a, putting something together is a paste-up job, you've got all these stories filed about all sorts of things, and then some editorial chap or chapess sits down with sort of paste and scissors and cuts the things off, and they tend to cut things off the bottom to make it all fit until it feels about right.
[455] This is done electronically now, but the principle is, is often the same, and the instinct is to do it the same.
[456] So if you're writing something which is in the form of a newsy form of activity, bear in mind the sort of ever-increasing circles.
[457] ‘Man Bites Dog.’
[458] Headline.
[459] ‘Last Tuesday in Cambridge High Street a man got so angry with a dog he bit it.’
[460] That's the first sentence/paragraph, and then you go into ever-increasing things.
[461] The point of that is that, by and large, you don't distort the thing very much by chopping little bits off the bottom until it actually fits on the page.
[462] That's the final thing.
[463] Right.
[464] I'm
lf (PS62R) [465] Can we cut and paste Bob?
bs (PS62L) [466] I'm going to cut and paste Bob.
[467] Bob, would you like to — Robert, would you like to introduce Bob?
lf (PS62R) [468] [laugh] This is getting positively incestuous. [people talking]
ro (PS62M) [469] Without further ado as they say, let me introduce to you ... Bob Satchwell, who is editor of the Cambridge Evening News, and formerly ... Deputy Editor, Bob, of ... ?
a (PS62G) [470] Assistant.
ro (PS62M) [471] Assistant Editor of the News of the World.
[472] Obviously a paper like the News of the World has lots of assistants, more than deputy.
[473] ... Bob, ... is a local person, in fact he lives in the village of Girton here, ... and to, to, to my knowledge takes a keen interest in local news and in local ... local affairs, ... since ... he's been editor of the Evening News I, I, I perceive a more lively style creeping into the paper.
[474] I may be wrong. [laugh]
a (PS62G) [475] Right.
[476] okay, well ... one last thing, I start with the last thing at the beginning, ... strangely, I mean ... you're obviously getting all the technical details and all the expertise from people who know far better than I do, so I'm not going to go into much ... technical ... detail until perhaps a bit later, which might come up if we get a debate going or when I look at your press releases.
[477] Let me say from the outset that ... you may find it ... surprising that ... we have an awful lot in common.
[478] My first rule of journalism goes back to something which was written down or reputed to have been said by H L Mencken, who was a, an American prize-winning journalist and commentator.
[479] He described journalism as being about comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable. [laugh]
a (PS62G) [480] So should you.
[481] Now we also both suffer from ambivalence.
[482] On our side it's, you know, don't believe everything, anything, sorry not everything but anything you read in the papers, and yet, at the same time, every national newspaper on a Saturday night at about eleven-thirty gets a phone, series of phone-calls all saying, ‘Please settle this argument for us we just been talking about the winner of the F A Cup Final in nineteen forty-three’ or something, and that, you know, and, so we've got the public out there saying ‘Don't believe what you read in the newspapers’yet, ‘Settle our arguments.’
[483] ... So, we're looked at in an ambivalent way.
[484] Part of the reason for that is because sometimes even the press gets it wrong, or at least we used to get it wrong.
[485] You'll remember [laugh]
a (PS62G) [486] ... in the bad old days, in the bad old days before high technology caught up with us, when we used to have more literals than in your average ... your average ... academic textbook, which takes some doing.
[487] And, you know, the sort of things which you can remember, which I can remember, some of the glorious ones, one when I was working up in Lancashire, ... about this time of year when the, the new May Day Bank Holiday was announced in about nineteen seventy-two or three or something and through five editions of the Lancashire Evening Post was a headline which said ‘New Pubic Holiday’. [laugh]
a (PS62G) [488] ... The whole legion of them from all sorts of different things, you know, there was the, the one about the, the secretary of the, of the club, the secretary of some organization, youth organization, said, in her annual reports, commented on how many young girls they'd managed to get in the club that year.
[489] Or there was the one even in the, even in the God spot, the religious column which said ‘The spirit of God hoovered on the waters’. [laugh]
a (PS62G) [490] In ads they came up, there was the one in the, in the property ads about the sexy detached house with two deception rooms. [laugh]
a (PS62G) [491] But the one I like best of all was about Sir Francis Chichester, who circumcised the globe [laugh]
a (PS62G) [492] in his twenty-four foot cutter. [laugh]
a (PS62G) [493] So, I think that's part of, part of the reason why we, we get this strange view.
[494] Now but for you, you see, one man's protest ... is a [...] about river pollution, for example, a good example.
[495] One man's protest about, about industrial effluent pouring into a river or pouring into the air above a beautiful city is another man's profit.
[496] ... In Cambridge, ... one man's snack is another man's filthy pong.
[497] I think for those of you who don't live here, if you fancy a hot dog, you can't have onions with it if you buy it in the city centre, because the smell of cooking onions is banned.
[498] Now, as I say, one man's protest is one man's pleasant meal, or, or, or his profit.
[499] So there's ambivalence towards you.
[500] And I just sort of wonder how we could possibly address some of that.
[501] I think in the current atmosphere of ... local government reform, I mean maybe there is ... an answer ... there, I mean you work for local councils but much of your role is concerned with ... statutory instruments if you like, statutory issues, issues which have got absolutely nothing to do with the people who are supposedly making the decisions which you're supposed to implement, they're made nationally, and you have to implement them.
[502] And I think there are a lot of other people in local government who do that.
[503] Could you be removed from the local government service and perhaps help in the poll tax debate?
[504] I mean ... there's a thought for you.
[505] ... On balance I think ... I think that it wouldn't be a good thing to do that, simply because most of your work ... also involves local perceptions of what is good, what is bad, what is right, what is wrong.
[506] ... Again in Cambridge, apart from the onions, we have May Balls.
[507] ... They're peculiar to Cambridge, ... and perhaps Oxford.
[508] ... First they happen in June ... that's that's a good starter for one, and they're really not that big a problem and I guess ... people in London would just laugh at the ... prospect of the noise which ... ... which ... May Balls cause and ... not worry about it in one way and ... would ... not have telephone calls ... to the local council and lots of stories in my newspaper every year.
[509] We're about to start them again probably in the next week or two.
[510] But ... at the heart of that issue I you know that specific issue I think is a good example of the of of the problem which I see you facing is that I think it's more not so much about the noise but about ... the fact that we have a relatively privileged few people who are enjoying going to these May Balls I mean and enjoying the end of their exams, staying up all night, and I wonder in fact if it's more a matter of sour grapes rather than environmental health.
[511] But anyway I know it takes up a lot of time and ... a lot of our columns.
[512] Now a cursory look through ... our library cuttings today ... shows me the huge range of work in which you're involved.
[513] I mean it was cursory, it became cursory when I saw the bloody pile of stuff that I'd got to read, and I thought, ‘Well I'll you know we'll skip that and I'll just say what a wonderful lot you are for doing so much.’ [laugh] [laugh]
a (PS62G) [514] But in fact ... just ... there's something like on one of our library files there's something like three or four card indexes all related to it.
[515] Because I just in my normal sort of ... ... intelligent way asked the librarian to come up with lots of cuttings on environmental health and ... let me have a quick little read, this was probably about twenty to three or something ... [laugh] you know [laugh] I probably needed about three weeks to do it.
[516] ... And it seems to me that your problem is that, on the one hand you have a big and ... relatively easily ... you have you have you have a big job, but with big, but relatively defined, easily defined issues on your hands.
[517] We all get ... het up about health scares, salmonella, God knows what, and pollution and so on, ... and we all have views on things like Sunday trading or whatever and ... not that we all agree on any of these things.
[518] But then you also, as I see it, have to play the conciliators, between ... between neighbours in disputes about noise or whatever, bonfires, things like that.
[519] Now all I can say about that is it seems to me you're braver than the rest of us but ... we try to keep out of it.
[520] Now, obviously, within all of that, what that shows me ... and just common sense tells me, is that you've obviously got a very vital role but there are problems.
[521] The first is that you are part of local government and sadly local government as a service has ... an image, a profile, ... even a stance which it it it doesn't really deserve.
[522] The rest of the world looks on local government and tends to yawn.
[523] We see that every May election time when people don't even bother to turn out to vote and so on.
[524] And I think that's a that's a great pity, it's a great shame that that image is there.
[525] I ... I don't know, probably ... we as newspapers are fairly guilty ... of preserving that image, but I also believe that those of you who are in local government service in whatever field, ... and that includes both officers and politicians ... have something ... to do yourselves there to try to restore that image.
[526] Now the second problem is that we all value our freedoms and we ... the greatest thing that we all have in our lives, whether it's in work, ... or whether it's in our marriages or just in our social life, we all value our freedom and initiative, we want to be able to use our own initiative.
[527] Your arrival on the scene immediately threatens that freedom, that initiative to, you know, there we have ... somebody coming along to say, ‘No, you can't do that.’
[528] ... And that's bad news, I mean, and I'm sure you'd feel that way yourselves in many ... I think basically no one welcomes the interfering busybody, as you may be looked upon, but then strangely, and again this is where the ambivalence comes in, when it suits us, you're of course our knights in shining armour.
[529] So how do we, how do we deal with this strange ambivalence and the sort of problems you're coming up ... you're facing?
[530] It seems to me that ... while you work initially for local councils and local councillors who should, ... obviously, be the people who have the power and the say, ... and far be it from me to recommend that you ignore or even threaten to undermine the democratic process, ... however imperfect it it it may it may be, you have you are working for that local council.
[531] But environmental standards, as I see it, and whatever form now, whether in the posh green sense or the nitty gritty sense, which is equally as important and sometimes forgotten, ... environmental standards transcend, obviously transcend politics ... and so what I want to, would would would want to do, is to try to strip off the politics and indeed to strip off the emotion, because that's the other thing which I think affects any real consideration of environmental issues.
[532] I think, obviously you've you've got your own organization, your own professional standards and things, I think they need to be developed and, more importantly, promoted themselves ... ... to the public, and then, to take it a bit further and to try and escape that straitjacket ... which I think which in this country particularly all public servants ... are limited by.
[533] To try and escape that kind of straitjacket and to speak out.
[534] I think probably one of the key things that ... I would want to get over to you is that we, we don't actually hear from you enough.
[535] ... I think, I'll come back to that a little bit ... when we get on to some consideration of these press releases.
[536] The fact that you're actually responding to an, to an issue is often the problem.
[537] What I want, would like to see, and I think is in your interest and the public's interest is actually to, to not just be responding but to be, ... to be reactive but to be ... pro-active, and to be going out onto the streets as it were.
[538] Now obviously that requires a more precise working knowledge of newspapers and the other media, what they want, when and how they need it, what the sort of particular publication is, you've been discussing some of that and we can perhaps go into some of that in, in a bit more detail a bit later on.
[539] But if you can raise that profile which I talk about, the of the ethics of of your trade, your profession and become, in effect, a pressure group, a pressure group for the public good, while we may not always agree with you, and indeed we're going to say that we don't agree with you and you mustn't be afraid of that ... but we would rather hear from you, ... you're the men and women at the sharp end, I hesitate to say ‘experts’ because ‘expert’is a, a rather over-used word ... but we'd much rather hear from you, at the sharp end, than the part-time politicians who, by the very nature of ... , of their role, and however well-meaning they may be, they have other priorities.
[540] I think you must strike ... a very fine balance.
[541] But you must be, or you must become, very much your own men and women ... because newspapers everywhere and all the other parts of the media are only, are just sitting there with baited breath aching for that phone to ring from you, to tell us things, because virtually anything which you get involved in, is likely in one way or another to be controversial.
[542] Anything can be made controversial and the stuff of newspapers is obviously controversy.
[543] Now, as I say, the politicians may be your bosses and what I'm suggesting may well upset many of them.
[544] So be it and probably a very good thing.
[545] But in the end, you know, you work for the, for the people and not the politicians.
[546] So, of course you might be running into trouble by doing too much, by being over-zealous and when you do things, or you may also be ... inviting criticism and inviting the, the great ... fickle hand of ... of ... bureaucratic power down upon you by doing too little too late, and that's often the ... , that's often the criticism which people in your profession and several other professions get accused of.
[547] But I would say to you, ‘Be bold, and take the risks.’
[548] And I think first of all, make sure you've got it right, make sure you are doing things for the right reasons, and you are concerned about the right issues, but then, shout about it from the rooftops.
[549] And I think that is the message which I want to get over to you, because if you can find that way to tread that difficult line ... which is there ... in our society which is over-protective, over-secretive, ... which is concerned about not ... not letting people unless they're of a certain rank, level or certain job, speak out publicly ... unless you can break through it I think you're actually, first of all, denying something for yourselves, and that you're denying something for the public at large.
[550] My basic feeling is that while it is reasonable to ask that ... that a council, as a council, as a political grouping, may make the decisions about things, it is an absolute nonsense that many, many councils — some of them are worse than others — will not let their professionals speak out ... on their ... you know from using their own expertise, their own knowledge, their own experience, and quite often that that debate, the whole debate is gagged by the fact that you're employees of the council.
[551] Now somehow I want you to break out of that ... and to, as I say, shout it from the rooftops, because in the end, the public applause ... from that will protect you from those who might seek to neuter you in that role.
[552] So that's what I want you to do.
[553] Think about it, get it, get the issues there, and then shout about them.
[554] We're waiting to hear from you.
[555] okay?
bs (PS62L) [556] Shall we move over to press releases and then you can ask questions generally?
[557] Does that sound a sensible way of ... proceeding?
[558] [people talking] What I think would be nice is if, if one or two people from each group came and laid claim to some of these things and we went through them and we sort of read them out loud because it's a bit hard to read there, and we'll see what Bob's view is on this and ... .
[559] ‘Recycling is not rubbish.’
[560] Is there a [...] talk about this or ... comment on it?
[561] [people talking] The others have not had an opportunity of, of actually seeing this, so I wonder if I could ask you just to read it out and we can all share
lf (PS62R) [562] Perhaps I ought to know what the scenario was.
bs (PS62L) [563] The scenario — have you got the scenario there?
lf (PS62R) [564] I've got it [...] here.
a (PS62G) [565] Yes, here we are.
bs (PS62L) [566] This is the scenario, and they had to go away and ask, write a press release in that scenario.
[567] Would you like to read your scenario?
b (PS62H) [568] ... The scenario is: Your council is about to launch a full-scale project aimed at recycling their extent range of materials including glass, paper, plastic, metals and textiles.
[569] Local consultation's taken place with a view to establishing a series of centres throughout Yardley Street where members of the public can bring materials for recycling, and you have made appropriate for the materials to be collected and dealt with.
[570] What you now need is some really good publicity to get the scheme off to a [...] start. [laugh]
bs (PS62L) [571] So would you like to just read what you've written there so that, because I don't think everyone can see, and I think this is
b (PS62H) [572] ... [...] than just to read, is that what you want me to do?
bs (PS62L) [573] Just read it
b (PS62H) [574] okay
bs (PS62L) [575] Straight-faced if you possibly can.
b (PS62H) [576] Right. [laugh]
b (PS62H) [577] Right.
[578] The heading is ‘Recycling is not rubbish says council spokesperson’.
[579] ‘Girton Council is waging war on waste.
[580] Today Councillor I M Green, Chairman of Girton Health and Housing Committee, challenged residents at the start of a campaign to promote recycling over a thousand plus tonnes of waste, generated weekly within Girton District.
[581] ‘Bring your bottles, paper and cans to your local centre,’ said Councillor Green.
[582] ‘We are determined to stop this disgraceful waste of the earth's resources.’
[583] The first for a Recycling Centre will open on the fifteenth of April, nineteen ninety-one, at Garden Place, Girton, when the Mayor Ivy Mission will launch the scheme at eleven o'clock, by breaking an empty champagne bottle on the front of the first glass recycling skip.
[584] At this and nine other sites located around the borough, will be facilities for tins, paper, plastics and textiles.
[585] The nine other sites are’— we'll just put [...] because they're not in, writing this thing —’ and they will open from the first of May nineteen ninety-one between nine and six p.m. each day of the week.
[586] Editor: If more information is required, please contact Girton's Recycling [...] Officer, Mush Cather Dump [laugh]
b (PS62H) [587] This is an ethnic minority [laugh]
b (PS62H) [588] and so contingent on oh one two three, four five six seven eight, between eight forty-five and five, Monday to Friday.
[589] Date: twelfth of April, nineteen ninety-one, for immediate release.’
bs (PS62L) [590] Right.
[591] Now supposing that landed on your desk.
a (PS62G) [592] Well look the first thing to occur and immediately comes to mind is that if I was going to be really evil I would I'd just stick it away in a quite [...] drawer or wait until the day, and I'd turn up when she was breaking the ... the bottle, the empty bottle over ... over the [...] the skip, we'd do a picture of her actually littering up the countryside. [laugh]
a (PS62G) [593] There's a thought for you.
[594] Just be careful.
[595] I mean obviously that's ... stretching a point in one way, but just be careful what you're leaving yourself open to, because there are men and women in journalism who are far more evil than I am. [laugh] ... [laugh]
lf (PS62R) [596] [laugh] This is true.
a (PS62G) [597] But ... one of the things, obvious at first, that, one of the first things about any kind of journalism apart from apart from , in your ... specialist journals and so on , is that they're about ... newspapers are about people, so obviously get the people in and ... there's a, a very good ... very good you've got the person, you've got ... you've got you've got someone in up at the top and saying something.
[598] Now the only thing I would criticize that for is that, quite often, ... your councillors, and you all know, think they are all wonderful words and I think they all think that they're the Churchills of ... of of of our local council, but actually what they say is a load of boring old twaddle.
[599] And it's very rare that you get a brilliant quote out of them including this one [laugh]
a (PS62G) [600] You know, hardly get a go-round in the in the Dictionary of Quotations but ... at least you got the person there which is right, but in actual fact, how I might have treated that and I might what might have grabbed me a little bit more ... would have been the story which I would be looking for, I'd be looking for my journalist to turn that into and therefore you might as well try and do it for us, because journalists like, like count on your labour, as I [laugh]
a (PS62G) [601] [people talking] If someone's done half your work for you you're going to react in a different way.
[602] What I would be looking for there is that you've got a council, I don't know how many people there are, and you've got a thousand plus tonnes of waste ... you know you've got a waste mountain being produced.
[603] And somewhere along there you could say, ‘Right.’
[604] Depending on the type of paper, you know, ‘Girton produces a thousand plus waste mountain every week’— that kind of line, and in fact even better still is to really get it down to, to humanize it and to translate it ... as roughly as you need to and into round figures, and ... use a little journalistic licence and say, you know, ‘Every person in Girton generates so many tonnes of waste, you know, each.’
[605] Get it like that and that sort of thing which is gripping, it's different, and it's ... it's it's something people can relate to immediately as well.
[606] So that's what I would have gone to there.
[607] But I mean otherwise it's got all the, all the good points in there, it's a pity that councils don't have these ... meaningful names [laugh] [laugh]
a (PS62G) [608] But ... otherwise it's ... basically I think it's, it's all there, all you're trying to do at this stage is, is to give, your aim here is to get ... is to get firstly, first of all, to get it on the diary, on the picture editor's diary for your picture, and also to get the basic information in so that somebody can write a few cards as an advance to say it is going to happen.
[609] ... So that mostly from A to Z .
[610] One last point which ... I ... you know you don't actually need the wasted line and a bit here.
[611] Everyone knows the councils only work from eight forty-five [laugh]
a (PS62G) [612] You know you don't need to tell us and in fact what you should be doing ... is in fact trying to develop relationships with your local papers and we actually have a very good relationships in Cambridge with our ... local council ... whereby it's not just a matter of, of contacting people during office hours.
[613] Newspapers, journalists don't just work office hours, I know they'd like to but they, they I don't let them ... but also a tremendous problem that they that that that you are always tied up in meetings and things during the day, you know, so make sure, try and develop personal contacts so you've got a decent personal contact when you don't mind giving your home number to someone.
[614] ... ... ... and you've got to develop the relationships so it doesn't become ridiculous and you deserve, you're disturbed every ten minutes every night of the week.
[615] But, you know, try and develop that, because that is the media sort of block, you know, ‘okay, well, if we can't get round to ringing them before five o'clock let's not bother’ sort of thing.
[616] So that's just a small point.
bs (PS62L) [617] Thank you very much.
[618] Are you going to do the other one, or is somebody else?
b (PS62H) [619] It just occurred, let me just ask you, we were quite chuffed with the 'Recycling is not Rubbish’ here headline, did, did, was that
a (PS62G) [620] Oh, I wouldn't even bother with the headline, quite honestly. [laugh]
lf (PS62R) [...] [laugh]
a (PS62G) [621] Seriously, I mean it, it's, it's, it's, it's ... it's it's ... I'm not criticizing the headline but I wouldn't bother with it on a press release.
[622] Because it, it's, it's not ... particularly going to grab me because I'm going to look at it and I'm going to I'm going to look down to see what it's asking me do ... and certainly a busy news editor is looking down the line to see, and the first thing he'll actually do is, is just have a, a very fast glance at it, find out what it's about, and just make sure there's someone who can be phoned, and what the news editor will do is actually throw it out into a pile of other handouts and there's usually a journalist who's, who's ... who's won first prize and their task for the day is to do all the handouts, ... and all you want to be sure of is that someone can make a phone call and the news editor won't, won't bother with any ... with any superfluous detail, all he'd want to know is that somebody can be contacted, we'll find out about it later.
bs (PS62L) [623] Thank you very much.
[624] Would you like to read out the second one
b (PS62H) [625] [...] Right.
[626] ‘Worried about food?
[627] Ring the food facts.
[628] Girton today launched a unique council helpline in response to the wave of public anxiety about food safety.
[629] Councillor Grubb today made the first call to the helpline.
[630] He said, ‘ In spite of the free services available to everyone, at the end of the tone is an expert available to answer your queries about food.’
[631] Whether it be cooking times, food poisoning, dietary needs, food pests or anything to do with food, ring Oh eight hundred six seven four three two one.
[632] The service operates between nine a.m. [laugh]
b (PS62H) [633] Any other time you can leave a message on the answerphone and someone will call you back.
[634] Any queries contact Principal Food Officer, Peter Bray.
bs (PS62L) [635] Thank you very much.
[636] So, Bob, what do you have to say about that one?
a (PS62G) [637] Well, I, I, the, the, the great thing about it, and this is, this is where so many press releases go wrong, the great thing about this one is that it is brevity.
[638] And, you know, I get stuff which comes at me and I pass on to someone else and gradually the process goes until it finishes up in the wastepaper bin, and usually they're the ones which are the longest which don't get read.
[639] This, this, you know, is saying something very, very simple, it's telling you straight away, ... okay it's, it is, it is quite nice to have the quote in there again as I say, ... if somebody, if somebody is trying to do a little advance story, to say, you could all, you could from there you could actually write something which, without having to go back ... and ... make a phone call.
[640] ... I'd make obviously [...] straight away after nine a.m.
[641] to five p.m. but ... ... put it on tape for God's sake we can't stand this you know.
[642] ... Yes I mean even though what I was saying about don't worry about the, the, the headlines, ... you know, it it is there you are, and the last one, but you're actually just giving someone a clue if they wanted to, or if they wanted to find out very briefly what it is about.
[643] ... Yes, I, I, I find ... because it's, because it's short, ... that's fine.
lf (PS62R) [644] What would you say about the fact, the thing that struck me about that, ‘Councillor Grubb today made first call to the helpline, he said, ‘ [...] a free service’ which, to me, sounded as though what he actually said down the phone to the helpline was [laugh]
lf (PS62R) [people talking]
a (PS62G) [645] No, no, no, I take your point, but I didn't mean that, it's the way I'd read the press release, I wasn't the one reading it, so [laugh] certainly they ... it would that would be please don't forget I mean no one is going to really knock for your English
lf (PS62R) [646] No.
a (PS62G) [647] I mean, God's sake, let them particularly journalists are the last people to insult [laugh]
a (PS62G) [648] So don't worry overmuch about it.
[649] As long as you make the point, ... and and in the as long as the quotes are grammatical, ... and as long as you can understand it, the the simple thing about any kind of communication is that you should communicate you know rather than you're not trying to win the Booker Prize, are you, so just as long as you get the information over don't worry too much about the, the journalism.
[650] I mean certainly I have to say I think most journalists wouldn't even have noticed that [...] [laugh] [people talking]
a (PS62G) [651] You know the speed of reading English. [people talking]
bs (PS62L) [652] You'd have highlighted it and sent it back.
lf (PS62R) [653] Yes I would highlight it and send it back.
bs (PS62L) [654] The point I keep making is that in a press release they ought to include at least enough information briefly so that whoever's reading it can pick up the angle or the possible use.
lf (PS62R) [655] Or the hook.
a (PS62G) [656] That's right.
bs (PS62L) [657] Need some information but also if they you know something which could actually make it
a (PS62G) [658] Yes.
bs (PS62L) [659] of interest to the public,
a (PS62G) [660] Yes.
bs (PS62L) [661] include at least a hint about that
a (PS62G) [662] That's right.
bs (PS62L) [663] because the editor picks it up and say ‘I can use that because I can see an angle, I could use it in this way or that way or,
a (PS62G) [664] Yes.
bs (PS62L) [665] or another way,
a (PS62G) [666] That's right.
bs (PS62L) [667] And if you, if you don't do that, many people will pick it up and say, you know, ‘There's been a new thing, what the hell, I don't see how I can use it,’ into the wastepaper basket.
a (PS62G) [668] Well that's right, yes, and the other thing as well, I shouldn't really be telling you this, ... , because it's bad news for us but, if you in fact write a long, rambling press release, what you will find is that the journalist will almost, almost certainly go three-quarters of the way down it to find the real story which is hidden in there, and occasionally that real story is purposely hidden down in there, and you know you look at any council minutes, and the real story is always, inevitably hidden down there, because it's the bit that somebody doesn't want people to know about, and so journalists are naturally trained to go down the bit to find out what's it about.
[669] So in effect, if you write this long, long, rambling press release, you won't get over the point you were trying to do, you'll get publicity okay, but you [laugh] won't get the kind of thing you wanted.
bs (PS62L) [670] Thank you very much.
[671] So, shall we just go into 'Lay Claims of the Council will move swiftly to close restaurant’?
[672] [people talking] That's the one that you did
lf (PS62R) [673] That's the scenario.
bs (PS62L) [674] okay, if you could tell us the scenario, read the scenario to us and then read the press release please.
c (PS62J) [675] [...] district council will start investigating an outbreak of salmonella which involves forty-three confirmed cases.
[676] The outbreak has been traced to a function held at Uncle Dick's Restaurant.
[677] Whilst investigations were being carried out, it has emerged that the premises had not been inspected by an E H O for over five years.
[678] Hygiene standards and practices were found to be appalling.
[679] Acting on a local tip-off from the one of the affected cases, the local paper has questioned Council [...] Gerald Pratt, and he has denied that, the fact that the restaurant was owned by the chairman of the Health Committee had any bearing on the matter [laugh]
c (PS62J) [680] saying that all premises are treated the same.
[681] We feel the need to restore some credibility to our programme , hence the ... release. [laugh]
c (PS62J) [682] Media Release is headed ‘Council moves swiftly to close restaurant’.
[683] ‘Sudbury health officers acted today to close Uncle Dick's Restaurant following an inspection of the premises.
[684] This was prompted by an investigation of a food poisoning outbreak which left forty-three people ill.
[685] All those affected had attended a function at the restaurant.
[686] The Chief Health Officer, Peter Perfect, said, ‘I'm appalled at the, sorry, at the size of this outbreak.
[687] It is the first major outbreak for many years.
[688] I am immediately introducing new measures to ensure that all high-risk premises, which include restaurants, will be looked at by some health officer every six months.’
[689] A full report when [people talking] in this matter will be made to the next meeting of the Health Committee in May.’
[690] But then it should say at the end, [laugh] ‘For further information contact [laugh]
bs (PS62L) [691] Right.
[692] You can't relax yet, it's not lunchtime, the bar is not open.
[693] I tell you that.
[694] We'll just keep it closed until we've finished this next session, which will be about two or three [...] Anyway [...] Let's start with [...] the [...] simply because it's ... we've got their findings up here.
[695] What sort of — who — could I have a spokesperson here please?
Unknown speaker (KRPPSUNK) [696] I'll be very democratic.
bs (PS62L) [697] Very democratic.
[698] [...] Sort of consortium [...] What — somebody tell me in the group what sort of ... press release you had, what did it describe, so that we, the other people haven't seen it, have they?
Unknown speaker (KRPPSUNK) [699] No.
[700] No, they haven't.
bs (PS62L) [701] So give us some indication of what sort of press release it was so that we know what we're talking about in the
Unknown speaker (KRPPSUNK) [702] Well, it was a press release which was headed ‘Increase in Food Poisoning Cases’.
[703] ... It described how there had been a fifty percent increase in food poisoning cases in district [...] year ... and then it went on to say that it, it was largely, it was thought that that increase was largely because of the increased publicity which the council had been given [...] hygiene training, and saying how many people had been trained, and how the Health Committee was being asked to provide more resources so there could more courses even, even more courses in the following year.
bs (PS62L) [704] okay That's, that's a very nice outline.
[705] You must have meant something about this [...] ... [laugh]
bs (PS62L) [706] These — this is what this group think of it in terms of some of the pros and cons.
[707] Would somebody like to, from the group, other than Robert, like to tell us a little bit about the pros?
[708] Let's be positive about this.
Unknown speaker (KRPPSUNK) [709] Right.
[710] We said it was, we said it was reasonably short, and fairly concise in the format we were given.
bs (PS62L) [711] Right.
Unknown speaker (KRPPSUNK) [712] It did actually
bs (PS62L) [713] That's an advantage, in other words.
Unknown speaker (KRPPSUNK) [714] We think so, yes.
bs (PS62L) [715] okay Short, concise, right.
[716] Then go on.
Unknown speaker (KRPPSUNK) [717] It gave the name of a contact point to follow up information, although some of us had reservations about whether it should have been the person who was actually quoted in the press release
bs (PS62L) [718] Right.
Unknown speaker (KRPPSUNK) [719] and not some other person who might contradict it,
bs (PS62L) [720] okay
Unknown speaker (KRPPSUNK) [721] the original quote.
bs (PS62L) [722] Yes.
Unknown speaker (KRPPSUNK) [723] It explained the problems although we were a bit— we'll go on to the cons in a minute.
[724] It did actually explain in one key phrase what, what the newsworthy bit was, which was the pivot sentence ‘fifty percent increase’, in applications.
bs (PS62L) [725] okay Now hold, hold on just for a moment.
[726] Going back to your earlier point, the, the press do need to have a contact, and it's very important that the contact is contactable and that, that they haven't gone away for a holiday during the two weeks in which the ... the thing is an issue.
[727] It's an obvious, but it's, it's not a point that is always ... coped with properly.
[728] The press also quite like to to talk to the people who are actually doing the business.
[729] So if you have a press officer, that's fine, but the press do like [people talking] beyond the press officer and actually talk to the officer, the individual concerned.
[730] So that's worth bearing in mind, and how you handle it, I mean maybe the press officer makes an arrangement to facilitate the ... the actual contact, but the press officer, a good press officer is not a person who stops the press getting into an organization, a good press officer is somebody who facilitates the press getting into the organization in the right way and talking to the right people preferably about the right things, but if not the right things the wrong things to the right with the right people, if you understand what I'm saying.
[731] He's a facilitator, he's a marriage bureau, a press officer.
[732] ‘Oh yes, you want to talk to, you could talk to that person.’
[733] That, that's, that ... And your other point was that it had some quite specific information about what the problem was.
Unknown speaker (KRPPSUNK) [734] Yes.
[735] And there wasn't a lot of getting in first before the newsworthy
bs (PS62L) [736] That's right.
Unknown speaker (KRPPSUNK) [737] item was [...] .
bs (PS62L) [738] If you're going to, if you're going to be knocked for something, make sure you're knocked for the right thing, that's what you're really saying.
[739] So, so make a clear, definitive statement of what it is, so that the rumour doesn't leak over, and you find yourself answering rumours, you're actually answering problems about facts which you can substantiate rather than rumours which you have to deny and then substantiate the facts.
[740] Thank you.
[741] What was the ...
Unknown speaker (KRPPSUNK) [742] On the, on the down side, some of us felt that the, the actual heading could have been, might get picked up verbatim by a news editor and used almost in that form.
bs (PS62L) [743] Yes, could you remind us what the heading was?
lf (PS62R) [744] ‘Increase in
Unknown speaker (KRPPSUNK) [745] ‘Increase in Food Poisoning Cases’.
[746] Some of us felt that, you know, the fifty percent, if that were the crucial figure, ... and doubling the food poisoning for instance, might have been ... , might be a more snappy headline.
[747] I just felt that journalistic — well, editorial licence would mean that that would get chopped about anyway so it was just a waste of time to rewrite it.
bs (PS62L) [748] There's a sense in which editors are very good at deciding what headlines are, and there's, there's a sense which you can't do a great deal about it.
[749] If they want their own snappy one they would, you're quite right, it's not necessarily handing them the bad one on a plate just in case they might use it.
Unknown speaker (KRPPSUNK) [750] I think our crucial criticism of the whole press release was that the, it was ... that the good news, if you like, that the council were doing something pro-active about food poisoning came secondary, was a secondary issue in the press release, the main, the main thing was the bad news, and it could have been turned round.
lf (PS62R) [751] You
Unknown speaker (KRPPSUNK) [752] The council are, know about the problem, they are responding by doing X, and by the way, it's still on the increase or, you know, we know that ... this is happening.
bs (PS62L) [753] This is a very important way of handling statistics, isn't it, in a sense, I mean, if you're talking about, in another context, if you talk about recidivism, and, and you say forty percent of people who go into prison reoffend within the following five years, that's the down side, or you could say sixty percent don't, or sixty percent keep out, and it's all a question of how you actually phrase it.
Unknown speaker (KRPPSUNK) [754] What we also said
bs (PS62L) [755] Important to get in the positive.
Unknown speaker (KRPPSUNK) [756] There were two messages in the press release and maybe that was, that was, that was the wrong move, it should have concentrated on one or other of the issues, and the message might be lost through the double-header.
c (PS62J) [757] You had one very good piece of news, which was ‘During the past year the Environmental Health Department has run fifteen courses for food handlers, and one hundred and eighty-seven people have passed the examination.’
Unknown speaker (KRPPSUNK) [758] But that was at the bottom of the second paragraph.
lf (PS62R) [759] Absolutely.
[760] In my book, that would have been your, your key point.
[761] It would have gone on to say, ... , that cases of food poisoning had risen by fifty percent, and then Mr Chadwick saying, ‘It's likely we're receiving more notifications.’
[762] But I mean you've, you've actually passed up your good news by putting it so far down that the editor might well have read the first paragraph.
[763] We're back to the whole problem
bs (PS62L) [764] Yes.
[765] Absolutely.
lf (PS62R) [766] ... You read the first paragraph which says, ‘Cases of food poisoning in Canberra have risen’, everybody says, ‘Oh, crumbs.’
[767] ... But in fact the good news is that you run these courses for food handlers and the hope is that by running these courses you won't have so many cases of food poisoning.
bs (PS62L) [768] And you brought out some general points here, haven't you?
Unknown speaker (KRPPSUNK) [769] Well we did [...] rewrite it, the council initiative would come first,
lf (PS62R) [770] Yes, that's right.
Unknown speaker (KRPPSUNK) [771] The statistics might be more easily presented, instead of small numbers being presented for the reader should he care , which is roughly what we would do.
[772] ... And we thought the contact, some of us thought the actual crunch should be the contact, provide the issue with a person on the ground.
lf (PS62R) [773] mhm
Unknown speaker (KRPPSUNK) [774] The fact that it's the Chief Officer, the media aren't particular interested in hierarchies of local government.
lf (PS62R) [775] No.
[776] They want
Unknown speaker (KRPPSUNK) [777] They just want to the person who's actually
lf (PS62R) [778] Very much so.
bs (PS62L) [779] Well thank you very much.
[780] That's a good start.
lf (PS62R) [781] Yes.
[782] Does anybody else want to comment on
nf (PS62K) [783] Yes.
lf (PS62R) [784] the pros and cons?
nf (PS62K) [785] I think it could have been even more positive by using the whole thing to sell Canberra's ... food, food handling courses.
bs (PS62L) [786] It could have been totally inverted, couldn't it?
lf (PS62R) [787] Yes.
bs (PS62L) [788] ‘People are understandably concerned about food problems and so forth.
[789] We have taken a new initiative, brand new initiative, we've set up a whole new scheme doing this that and the other da da da, and in a sort of a tail end,
nf (PS62K) [790] Contact the [people talking]
bs (PS62L) [791] This is, yes, contact that, this is important, because it's clearly that there is an increase, there's some evidence of an increase of these things as a sort of little tail end thing, it would have been perfectly good story but quite the other way round.
[792] And a legitimate hook because people are concerned about food and eating and so forth, and that, that would have been a hook you could grab people with, and most people would have thought ‘That would be something I want to read about.’
[793] Well it, that's interesting.
nf (PS62K) [794] The worst thing about it as it stands, in the exercise, is it actually implies that the more food hygiene education goes on, the more food poisoning [laugh]
lf (PS62R) [795] Yes.
nf (PS62K) [796] By giving an excuse for, as it, it goes like this business if you try and cover something else now.
lf (PS62R) [797] Yes.
bs (PS62L) [798] The other, the other weakness it possibly turned up [...] is that, my experience is that, unless something bad there, the press don't really want to do anything about it, if you're just trying to sell your wares and say how good you are, and then hide a bit behind [...] , I mean they'll turn around anyway the circle , must be something.
bs (PS62L) [799] Well, you've obviously had some bad experiences, but I think one of the, one of the best defences is actually not to sell your wares, I mean who's interested in your wares, but actually to try and state what you're doing in such a way that it is of some interest.
[800] [...] or whatever it is.
[801] That's the whole point of repackaging that I was trying to get across this morning.
[802] You've got to actually say ‘This is for you’.
[803] And if you were doing a little programme on, on yogurt [people talking] and [people talking] they were sort of going at it absolutely straight for the ‘You watch this and you're going to do that and you're going to do the other’.
[804] Don't say that.
[805] Start from the point of view that, when we were children, we were told to drink our milk, it's good for you.
[806] Now we're told to, you know, beware of having too much fats, too much milk, too much this, that and the other because it creates all sorts of ... what's the truth?
[807] And then, what they were wanting to get across, Hang on then, the reason why it's put there is that most people are, are now acutely conscious of, of having too much fat, too much milk, too much this, that and the other, and it, and it grabs some people and it's a legitimate way in.
[808] And they were able to place that subsequently because it was a, was a relevant thing that people wanted to read, and it was recognized as such by the organizations concerned.
[809] But I mean I, if they want to be nasty they're going to be nasty, in a sense, and, and if they can't see a positive way of using something, but they still want to get it in, then the obvious thing to do is to be nasty about it.
[810] You know, it's much, it's much easier to be nasty about something than it is to be nice about something.
[811] You know the old adage that [...] , I mean one of the reasons is it's so much easier to come up with a scandal, to come with a rats in the basement or something like that and intrigue people, than it is to come up with some, the positive angles.
[812] It's not to say that the positive news it doesn't work if in fact it is of interest to people, and it strikes them as, as such, and there are all sorts of subterfuges incidentally [people talking] ranging from using facts and statistics and ... which relate to people, to even actually using individual stories.
[813] People.
[814] Reader's Digest, article on road traffic accidents, never starts, ‘Last year there were fifty thousand road traffic accidents in the British Isles’, because Reader's Digest readers don't want to read that.
[815] Always start ‘Tall, good-looking Mary Smith, as she stepped out of her cottage that morning, did not realize she would not see her children [...] until the following, three months later.
[816] The sun was in the sky, the birds were singing, as she kissed the children good-bye and said, ‘ [...] .’
[817] She was yet more victim of the terrible carnage of the British roads.’
[818] Why?
[819] Because all of us are suckers, whether we admit to reading the Reader's Digest or not, [laugh]
bs (PS62L) [820] Knowing what happens to tall, good-looking Mary Smith when she stepped outside of her cottage and something awful happened.
[821] It's psychology, you see.
[822] So that's a totally artificial way of doing it.
[823] But it's something which even you could use if you had a specific, good example of a specific situation could, which could be turned into news.
[824] An individual is something, something that's very good.
bs (PS62L) [825] Yes, but the pro-active, the good news often is not a good enough hook, I mean in my experience, the local media, they do want, the hook has to be, at least in the, in the initial phase has to be bad news.
bs (PS62L) [826] I don't accept that, I really don't accept that.
[827] You have to work harder to get a good news hook, but it, but it, it still exists and people still are interested, provided it's a hook.
[828] [people talking] certain situations you really need ... people and so forth, they're actually extraordinarily good news.
lf (PS62R) [829] Can I comment on
bs (PS62L) [830] Just a moment please
lf (PS62R) [831] the way that was laid out?
[832] That was quite a well laid-out press release.
[833] It was double spacing, wide margins and one side of the page and only one page of A four.
[834] ... The way to get into the editor's heart ... is to lay it out so that it can actually be read.
[835] Journalists on the whole are fairly lazy people, they're also fairly pressured people, if you give them something which they can virtually print verbatim, they will be enormously happy people and you will increase your chances of actually hitting the news.
[836] Can I just say in, in relation to your comment, I understand clearly what it is you're saying, but what we're saying is, ... how is the best way to present a press release?
[837] If the editor decides to invert the press release, you've actually done the right thing in putting your good point first.
[838] You can't stop the editor from inverting it, obviously, but, but what we're saying to you is, as far as your organization is concerned, you want to try and present the, you know the good news first.
[839] Shall we go on to the next thing?
bs (PS62L) [840] Yes, just, can we just, while I'm thinking about this, try and think of positive things.
[841] If you're starting an educational campaign, you want people to cooperate, to do something, how do you do it?
[842] You don't just say, ‘Give me a hand in this campaign for everyone to put out their dustbins [people talking] ’ You try to get the mayor to do it, or Princess Diana to do it, or a hundred-year-old lady, in the district [...] or [...] Rumanian orphans.
[843] I mean this makes it immediately newsworthy, because it links in with what people are interested in.
[844] That's why people set up [...]
lf (PS62R) [845] Right.
bs (PS62L) [846] This is true.
[847] So would somebody from Group A like to tell us what Group B press release was about.
ro (PS62M) [848] Yes.
[849] It was a press release following the Chief Environmental Health Officer preempting a report that was being made to the council [...] going to be implemented for the use of the Environmental Protection Act, and goes on to list them in indented form.
[850] ... It makes the point that additional [...] will be needed and ... ... extra money [...] .
[851] And that probably sums it up.
[852] It's laid out in single spacing, indented with the various points numbered, a contact point at the end, which is literally T.
[853] Green and a telephone number, and that's, that concludes it.
[854] It starts off ... one of the first things we didn't like was the title.
[855] It starts ‘New Launch to Cut Pollution’.
[856] We felt that really needed to be considerably punchier to attract attention and we would have thought that ... it really needed to be ‘New Launch [...] gets Canbord council market a tough new policy’.
bs (PS62L) [857] Right.
ro (PS62M) [858] The second paragraph goes on about the report to [...] council ... Environmental Services Committee by the District Chief.
[859] It gets very long and involved.
[860] We wanted to [...] that down to a straightforward ‘The Chief, District Chief Environmental Health Officer, name, says the Environmental Protection Act would mean .’
[861] The various items, it then lists six items which are indented and numbered.
[862] We wanted to remove the item numbers, straightforward, bring them in, indent the whole item, and we wanted to tie in that we, the first one, for instance, says ‘Rigid controls over [...] can be discharged from industrial processes.’
[863] Thought there was going to be a much ... look, see where it could eventually [...] to control industrial air pollution from local industries.
[864] Got the local slant.
bs (PS62L) [865] Right.
ro (PS62M) [866] Similar sort of thing, [...] with the other, various other items, we didn't actually have an opportunity to, to rewrite all the bits.
lf (PS62R) [867] No.
ro (PS62M) [868] When we got down to the final paragraph, ... Ms Green says that all this extra work will mean that more staff will be needed, and that she's asking for money.
[869] We wanted to compress that to ... Ms Green's asking for more staff in her department and finance [...] these measures.
[870] The contact point is literally very brief, it's T.
[871] Green and phone number, as I said.
[872] It needed to be identified more clearly.
[873] Is it Mrs, is it Miss, is it Ms?
[874] What's their designation?
[875] So there's something a little more depth, somebody who'd you'd know how to get to .
[876] We were also, had some concern that this is being released in advance of the council's committee.
[877] And we were ... rather thinking that [...] might be looking for another job very soon. [laugh]
lf (PS62R) [878] Absolutely.
ro (PS62M) [879] [...] to the press about it.
[880] So we'd want to put an embargo note on this release, so it couldn't be used prematurely .
[881] Do you
bs (PS62L) [882] In connection with embargo dates ... they may or may not be useful, but in relation to‘off the record’, there's no such thing as ‘off the record’ I have to tell you.
[883] Not unless you completely blackmail the person and say
lf (PS62R) [laugh]
bs (PS62L) [884] you, you know, you have his wife locked up and maybe even that's not a good [laugh]
lf (PS62R) [885] [laugh] He may want to get rid of her anyway.
bs (PS62L) [886] That's not a good illustration.
[887] But there's no, people who say things are off the record means that ‘I don't want to be, [...] but I want it to get into the system’.
[888] You're just asking too much, it's like asking a bear not to touch a pot of honey.
[889] Never ever get into a situation where you say, ‘Well informally and off the record,’ because, because it will come back and haunt you subsequently.
[890] And it's something to do with that and an embargo date's a little bit like that, and in a sense, you may well be able to stop people actually publishing the thing, but they will still know and be working on it if it's of any importance, so use embargo dates advisedly.
[891] If you want information to go out at a specific time, time it very carefully, and just bung it out, as it were, and, and reckon it's there at that stage.
ro (PS62M) [892] If it's real dynamite, in a sense, I mean, [...]
bs (PS62L) [893] Ah!
[894] Yes, if it's worth having, I mean they're not going to
lf (PS62R) [895] Yes.
bs (PS62L) [896] take any notice at all. [laugh]
bs (PS62L) [897] Still the point was well made, I mean not sounding like you can sort of freeze an article to, not compromise the sort of [...] committee [...] , I mean, it is, dead if you give it away and you wouldn't consider pressure groups, they'll pick up their report and their copies anywhere, and take bits out and quote you, I mean, I mean I know I'm in this, I like to distort, like them to know our official disposition before it's dead.
bs (PS62L) [898] Yes.
lf (PS62R) [899] mhm It might have worked [people talking]
bs (PS62L) [900] relationship, I mean do set up, I mean, if you get into, if you establish relations with me ... then it's an ongoing thing, it can be, and it ought to be, so you actually do see the same people over a period of time, and you do establish a modicum of trust, not entire trust, because it's asking too much for entire trust in all circumstances, but at least there is a certain understanding, particularly with the, on the, on the local basis.
lf (PS62R) [901] It was a pretty [people talking]
ro (PS62M) [902] With this business of embargo, Liz , I'll agree with that but the, the off the record, one wants to get the local people very well ... and you do develop this, this trust, and if you can in fact give them a lot of scope that you know what to use.
bs (PS62L) [903] You have to be very sure about that
lf (PS62R) [904] Yes.
bs (PS62L) [905] and in, in a limited way.
ro (PS62M) [906] We must have a decent, we must have decent local men .
bs (PS62L) [907] Now, there's a
lf (PS62R) [908] Yes, I mean
bs (PS62L) [909] sense in which it's in their interest not to breach this because you won't give them the material they need
lf (PS62R) [910] That's just what I said during the news interview, wasn't it?
bs (PS62L) [911] [people talking] to give you an example there are two of them.
[912] We can do that easily with the East Anglian Daily Times.
[913] They're very good, very responsible, we know them very well.
[914] We wouldn't dream of doing it with [...] Press.
ro (PS62M) [915] Well there you are then.
lf (PS62R) [916] Yes.
[917] It was a pretty awful press release, wasn't it, actually?
ro (PS62M) [918] The, one of the other points we did, we also [...] was that there was no indications of when this legislation was going to let these changed take place and that would have been very helpful to the editor.
lf (PS62R) [919] Yes.
[920] I mean — A, it was incredibly badly set out.
[921] It was pushed up to the top of the page.
[922] It clearly hadn't been carefully read afterwards, because there are two words run together there, I mean you do really need to, to read things for grammatical errors, errors in people's names.
[923] I can actually recall a press release which came to me about a ... a principal tourism officer who had just been appointed to be the head, you know the president for the year of his professional body, and in his own town a press release was put out in which his name was incorrectly spelt, and the conference at which he was about to be invested was actually taking, and I blush to say that it was in Brighton, I can only tell you when I got that press release I did what I frequently do, which is outline in highlighter the mistakes on the press release, put it back into the envelope and send it back to the relevant officer.
[924] I am not flavour of the week in some quarters as you may well imagine. [laugh]
lf (PS62R) [925] On the other hand, they don't [laugh] do it too frequently. [laugh]
lf (PS62R) [926] Very poor, one side margins, the other side very little, squashed up to the top of the page, and as somebody said, there is T.
[927] Green, no designation, no anything, and the content is really pretty dire.
[928] I mean that is ... I have to say that that is the kind of press release which frequently comes across both Brian's desk and mine all too frequently.
[929] It starts where you're at, it does not start at where the receiver is at.
[930] Third one?
[931] Do you want to comment any more on that one?
bs (PS62L) [932] No, I think that's fine.
lf (PS62R) [933] okay
bs (PS62L) [934] Third group, who do you have [...] that's going to talk to it?
f (PS62N) [935] What's going [...] about dates?
bs (PS62L) [936] [...] is it more news [...] or
lf (PS62R) [937] Right [...]
bs (PS62L) [938] ... It depends on what sort of event it is, ... something in which
lf (PS62R) [939] Which do you want to comment on [people talking]
bs (PS62L) [people talking]
lf (PS62R) [940] Which do you want to comment on first?
bs (PS62L) [941] There are some things which are just sort of have a fairly short lifetime, both in terms of the interest of the event and also the, also the interest of the press in it in which case you just have to use your judgement.
[942] [...] long time to remember what's going to happen in three months' time, but if it's something related to an event like Christmas or Easter or something like that, a lot of, ... a lot of press people are always thinking ‘What the hell am I going to do that's different for Christmas or Easter or so forth,’ so if you do a signal, lay on a special event related to a, a time, in other words a sort of custom, a calendar custom-type event, they're going to appreciate that notice because they may do some forward planning which would actually help them in that respect.
[943] ... It all depends, is the answer.
f (PS62N) [944] My contribution is that, ... my experience is that the hook can often be a national event.
[945] They often pick up stories in the national news.
bs (PS62L) [946] Yes.
f (PS62N) [947] And they want a local response from
lf (PS62R) [948] mhm
f (PS62N) [949] you, so being aware what's going on in your field nationally [people talking]
lf (PS62R) [950] That's right.
bs (PS62L) [951] Dead important you should [people talking]
lf (PS62R) [952] Yes.
f (PS62N) [953] You might even be prepared to give them something whether
lf (PS62R) [954] Absolutely.
f (PS62N) [955] it's an article
bs (PS62L) [956] That's right.
lf (PS62R) [957] We've got the [...] Are you coming up to speak to it?
g (PS62P) [958] No, the chap at the front is ...
lf (PS62R) [959] The chap, chap at the front, oh, [laugh] I see, okay
lf (PS62R) [960] okay, I'm the chap at the front.
lf (PS62R) [961] Just the faults first and then we'll put the ... what it should [people talking]
bs (PS62L) [962] Tell us about the press release ...
lf (PS62R) [963] Well, if you think the last one was bad wait till you see this one.
[964] ... I could read it out in total, perhaps the best way.
[965] ... It's headed ‘Press Release’.
[966] ‘The Canborough District Council has announced the suspension of its improval grants scheme.’
[967] Paragraph.
[968] ‘The suspension to be brought about by lack of funding which is not related to the community charge level.’
[969] Paragraph.
[970] ‘Any person who feels that he may be affected by the suspension should contact their local office.’
[971] Paragraph.
[972] ‘The suspension will be lifted when [laugh] funding is better available for development.’
[973] Paragraph.
[974] ‘Members of the public who want further information on this release should contact the Environmental Health Department, [...] .’
bs (PS62L) [975] Right.
[976] Was there anything wrong with that? ...
lf (PS62R) [laugh] [people talking]
lf (PS62R) [977] Right, the ... the comments that were written on the, the sheets on the literature basically.
bs (PS62L) [978] Too impersonal, yes.
lf (PS62R) [979] Yes, there were no quotes in it, there were no people mentioned, it seems to have no local flavour in that respect.
[980] There's no apology, you know, I'm, there's no ‘I'm sorry this is happening,’ it's just Bang bang bang, [...] .
[981] There are no reasons for the ... withdrawal of funding for the grounds.
bs (PS62L) [982] And in fact any response is probably going to be negative to that, because they did such bad read-out when they read the thing that they're going to want to be pretty snotty, sort of, anything they wrote about that.
[983] Particularly if they couldn't get any more information.
lf (PS62R) [984] mhm
bs (PS62L) [985] I mean if they really sort of tried to make a story out of it and they couldn't, they contacted the council offices and everyone was on holiday or nobody'd answer the phone or what normally happens at council offices, they'd say ‘Oh, well, sod this,’ and they'd go away and they'd ... do the, you know, write it up in a really nasty way so
lf (PS62R) [986] It's full of the ‘So what?’ syndrome.
[987] You get to the bottom and you say, ‘So what?’ and you put it your wastepaper basket.
[988] And I have to say that that is the fate of a lot of press releases.
[989] Right you read it and you say, ‘Is this relevant to me?
[990] Is this relevant to my radio station?
[991] My paper?
[992] So what?’
[993] And it disappears.
bs (PS62L) [994] Is that all you wanted to say about the down side?
lf (PS62R) [995] ... Yes, because in effect the, the positive side is, is, is the opposite.
[996] [people talking] Just to, for people who can't quite remember the wording of it, the paragraph reads, ‘ If there's any person who feels that they may be affected by this dispension should contact their local office.’
[997] Then paragraph five says ‘Members of the public who want further information should blah blah blah.’
[998] It's things like that that [...] member of the public and I'm unaffected so what do I do?
bs (PS62L) [999] Yes, that's absolutely true and the public would have been outraged by that.
[1000] So on the flip side, in other words, nothing positive about the press release but positive about one truth , what one should say for a press release.
[1001] Proper heading, quality logo paper, hook, statistics, something which would lead into the thing, more friendly language, it was very bureaucratic, wasn't it, in a sense?
lf (PS62R) [1002] mhm
bs (PS62L) [1003] Use quotations, something which could be lifted as such.
lf (PS62R) [1004] We, we thought the, perhaps a statement from the chairman of the Health and Housing Committee and another one from the Chief Environmental Health Officer might be useful.
bs (PS62L) [1005] Yes.
[1006] Yes.
c (PS62J) [1007] I mean you could start by saying, ‘Canborough ... has, has been well known for the number of grants it gives, you know, as, as the means of saying, ‘Up to now we've been the good people.’
[1008] Then the bad news and then the reason why, why it can't happen.
lf (PS62R) [1009] Could have used something
lf (PS62R) [1010] And, something interesting there.
[1011] Editor's notes.
[1012] They're a very useful addendum to any press release.
[1013] You get a nice press release that fits beautifully onto one page.
[1014] That, that's nice.
[1015] But there are other bits of information you might want to give, like a photo opportunity, ... like a particular thing, something specific happening which related to the press release but's not part of it.
[1016] Very useful thing for your second page ... if you haven't got room at the bottom of the first page is, editor's notes.
[1017] ‘There will be a photo corner at eleven a.m.
[1018] in the town square when the chairman will stub out his last cigarette on No Smoking Day [laugh] or whatever it is.’
[1019] ... That is not necessarily part of the press release but it does give the editor some important information.
[1020] He can ignore it or he can take profit.
[1021] So, editor's notes are very useful.
bs (PS62L) [1022] Any other quick comments about ...
lf (PS62R) [1023] Before we feed you.
bs (PS62L) [1024] Before you are allowed to escape.
lf (PS62R) [1025] [laugh] Out of the cage
bs (PS62L) [1026] Well, we're going to continue with press releases after lunch, but let me just, I mean in a sense, those were fiction.
[1027] So let me just give you two brief quotations from real press releases which I have, I've got ... piles and piles of these things.
[1028] One is the baddy.
[1029] ‘Department of Energy.
[1030] October nineteen ninety.’
[1031] Title: ‘Fourth Annual Civil Plutonium Figures Published.’ [laugh]
bs (PS62L) [1032] ‘The Department of Energy has today published figures for nineteen ninety on the plutonium produced at Britain's civil nuclear power stations reprocessing [...] at Sellafield and the civil plutonium stocks.
[1033] These figures are published annually and are compiled from data now supplied by Nuclear Electric blah blah blah blah blah.
[1034] The nuclear assets were previously owned by the Central Electricity Generating Board and the south of Scotland Electricity Board, who supplied similar data relating to [laugh]
bs (PS62L) [1035] administrations in previous years.’
[1036] No figures.
[1037] No notes , things like that.
[1038] ... ‘The plutonium content of fuel discharged from nuclear reactors and despatchment sites is shown precisely than in previous publications.’
[1039] And it, it actually, I'm being really rather unfair [...] figures there.
[1040] It concludes — you want a quote from a famous person —‘In his decision letter of the sixth of September, the Secretary of State for Energy accepted this recommendation,’ that is, that the figures are quoted in kilogrammes per stations with appropriate error bands specified for the quantities per station [laugh]
lf (PS62R) [1041] Are any of you still awake?
bs (PS62L) [1042] ... ‘Accepted this recommendation while emphasizing that the estimates for the precise amount of plutonium in the fuel discharge from an individual nuclear power station in any one year has a marginal uncertainty of around plus or minus five percent, and the aggregate total of such estimates has a margin of uncertainty of around plus or minus [...] ’ [laugh]
bs (PS62L) [1043] I mean
Unknown speaker (KRPPSUNK) [...]
bs (PS62L) [1044] They don't want people to know.
Unknown speaker (KRPPSUNK) [1045] [...] designed not to [...]
bs (PS62L) [1046] Well, it's a pretty good press release
Unknown speaker (KRPPSUNK) [1047] press release about this [...]
bs (PS62L) [1048] Well, that, you may be right, and ... that's a very relevant point, thank you, in that sense.
[1049] ... But I, I mean I use it as a, that may be the psychology behind it, but I use it as a bad example of, for obvious reasons, and there's a real bad example, and there may be some politics behind it, there's ... What I think is a good example: ‘Southeast Arts ... ’ ... sorry, ‘Southeast Tourist Board, South of England Board.’
[1050] Title: ‘Events Galore for Eighty-eight,’ so this is a slightly dated one.
[1051] ‘Where can you watch championship marbles, custard-pie throwing, world, world pillow sparring, a pub games festival, a bathtub race, town criers' championship and birdmen jumping off the pier for big prize money?’
lf (PS62R) [1052] Now,
bs (PS62L) [1053] ‘Southeast
lf (PS62R) [1054] this is for you.
bs (PS62L) [1055] ‘Southeast [laugh]
bs (PS62L) [1056] ‘England, of course, and the southeast,’ and it goes on to give you the dates, the times, the places and contacts and so forth .
[1057] They put in the hook.
[1058] This could actually, and probably was, be lifted entirely and published in its present form in most local freebies, local newspapers and so forth.
[1059] It was an article all ready for lifting.
lf (PS62R) [1060] And I have to say that it was after we had done a course for them on really bad press releases [laugh] , because we [laugh] , they had done some pretty awful press releases in the past, and we were delighted when that one came out because it actually showed that they'd picked up the message.
bs (PS62L) [1061] Right.
[1062] So that, that ends the session.
[1063] Any comments, questions, insults,
lf (PS62R) [1064] I had a few of those.
bs (PS62L) [1065] queries? okay We'll ... have a nice lunch.
[1066] See you after lunch.
a (PS62G) [1067] For those of you who don't know where we're eating, it's in ... , it's in Hall, which is about a mile and a half [people talking]
lf (PS62R) [1068] When you get to the telescope, keep going.
[1069] That
lf (PS62R) [1070] Yes, he likes, he likes that idea very much.
[1071] He thinks that's a good idea.
[1072] Is anybody
bs (PS62L) [1073] I think — I think most of you have decided to come back after lunch, thank you very much,
lf (PS62R) [1074] Come back [people talking]
bs (PS62L) [1075] We appreciate that.
[1076] ... And it's dedication beyond the normal call of duty, or bounds of duty, I think, to be honest, in this weather.
[1077] Let's just outline what we're going to do this afternoon.
[1078] You've done a lot of the work for us, I'm very appreciative to, of this, I'm glad to say you have, in terms of sussing out what makes a good press release, if only because you've found out what makes a bad press release.
[1079] So Liz, in particular, and I'll join in a little bit, we'll sort of itemize some of the aspects, just to remind you and, and focus a little bit on this, and then we move into another mode where you get very creative and very constructive.
[1080] You go off into your three groups again.
[1081] We're setting you the following task.
[1082] We're going to give you a, a situation handout, or a, a handout which describes a situation, and we're going to ask you to construct a short press release on the basis of that situation.
[1083] So in a sense that's, that's ... your task.
[1084] We're also going to ask you to create your own press release about something you'd like to create, in a sense.
[1085] This will be very useful because it will provide material, later on in the course, for genuine situations as opposed to the slightly artificial ones we're actually handing out.
[1086] So when you go into the groups, you're, you will have these two tasks, produce two press releases, one on the basis of a bit information given you, and the second on whatever you want to do, and you just, feel free to devise a, a situation, hopefully a real one, and describe it.
[1087] Now it's important that we come up with some interesting things because, as you know, as the course goes on we're going to be joined by professionals from the media, in the form of Bob Satchwell later on this afternoon, and other gentlemen from the local radio and so forth tomorrow, and they're actually going to, as it were, confirm, or not, as the case may be, the sort of things we've been talking about.
[1088] It is a high-risk venture as far as we're concerned
lf (PS62R) [laugh]
bs (PS62L) [1089] And ... , and actually talk with you and maybe record material, we're not quite sure how they're going to play this, but, but, but tell you what they're interested in knowing about, in terms of your activities.
[1090] So it's going to be more and more moving into the real area as opposed to our fantasies about what the world's like at this particular moment.
[1091] So, let's hand over to you, Liz, and we'll focus on press
lf (PS62R) [1092] Right.
bs (PS62L) [1093] releases again.
c (PS62J) [1094] Three sort of fairly general ... Can you, can you see okay?
[1095] Three fairly sort of general ... things on press release.
[1096] Who are you writing for?
[1097] Are you writing for your peer group, in which case you will clearly use a slightly different approach and slightly different language?
[1098] Are you writing for the public?
[1099] It's very easy to fall into ... well-used phrases and, and ... acronyms and bits of jargon.
[1100] Do remember that the public may not have your abiding interest in environmental health.
[1101] So, you have to think about who you're aiming it at.
[1102] Jargon.
[1103] Now, every trade and profession and, and radio and T.V. is the same as any other organization — we all have jargon.
[1104] ... Try as far as possible not to use it, because it just confuses people.
[1105] If you are talking to people you will talk in a quite different mode from ... that which you will adopt when you're writing.
[1106] Ownership of information.
[1107] That is quite important, particularly if you are going to attribute quotes to people.
[1108] It's extremely unwise to quote ... your Chairman of Committee, if the Chairman of the committee actually A hasn't been informed that he's being quoted, or B has not actually agreed with what it is that you're quoting.
[1109] ... You have to be quite clear in your own mind who you are aiming this at and how you are actually going to formulate it.
[1110] And there are one or two fairly sort of good points that you can, that you can actually bear in mind when you're writing.
[1111] And the first one is, press releases should actually grab the imagination of the person to whom it's addressed.
[1112] We talked earlier about reading a press release through and saying, ‘So what?’ and dropping it in the bin.
[1113] Now that press release clearly hasn't grabbed anybody's imagination.
[1114] I get a lot of press releases related to tourism, and Leeds Castle in Kent frequently send me press releases, and I always, almost as a reflex action, find myself grabbing for my diary.
[1115] Am I free on that day?
[1116] Can I go to this thing about which they're sounding so enthusiastic?
[1117] Do I want to go to this wonderful balloon festival?
[1118] Do I want to go hunting Easter eggs?
[1119] Do I because they write their press releases in such a way that it grabs you and says, ‘Hey!
[1120] This is for you.’
[1121] Now, a lot of the things that you will be writing about will not be that dramatic that you can actually say, ‘Hey!
[1122] This is for you.’
[1123] But it should say to editors and, and radio people, ‘Hey, this, this could be interesting for you, there's a story here.’
[1124] So that's, that's one of your first considerations.
[1125] Brian spoke earlier about the hook.
[1126] And the hook comes up again and again.
[1127] Think of an angle and exploit it.
[1128] And what will be an angle for, for one paper or one magazine or one programme won't necessarily be the angle for another one.
[1129] Radio ... audiences expect to be entertained, ... possibly educated, but certainly kept on that radio band.
[1130] They don't want to be ... what the presenters don't want is somebody to be pressing the button, hopping from channel to channel.
[1131] And so ... you need to think of something which will actually keep people listening.
[1132] Do you want to hear the next line?
[1133] If it was not me speaking, would I want to listen to me?
[1134] Would I actually want to read the next line, in terms of a press release?
[1135] Who is your target audience?
[1136] Now that is one of the very crucial things and one of the things that we frequently ask groups of people is, ‘Do you think that one press release is sufficient?
[1137] Do you want one press release which may go to ... your institutional press as it were, the things which are specifically related to ... environmental health and nothing else?
[1138] That would be ... a particular type of press release.
[1139] Do you want it to go in the local free sheet?
[1140] Do you want it to go to a radio station?
[1141] Do you want it to hook a number of other people?
[1142] Now that's obviously got to be a decision that you make.
[1143] It may be you haven't got time, energy, effort, ... manpower to do more than one ... press release.
[1144] But it's something which you really should bear in mind, because it could be the difference between you getting a press release and, and not getting it in.
[1145] Style.
[1146] We, we talk about house style.
[1147] If you want to get an article into a particular magazine, you need to read that magazine, you need to see how they present certain articles, how they actually approach certain things, and then write what you want to write in the house style.
[1148] Because again you'll have a much greater chance of getting it published.
[1149] The way I got into national radio from local radio was listening to programmes and thinking, ‘I could interview X, and I could get it into that programme, if I could do it in that format.’
[1150] And what you do is you do it, and you get it wrong, and you, you miss it, and then you do it again and you're better the next time and you get in.
[1151] So house style for both newspapers I mean Brian pointed to, out some to you this morning.
[1152] Clearly you wouldn't write in the same way for the Sun as you would for the Times or the Financial Times or the Guardian, or the Cambridge local paper.
[1153] So house style's important.
[1154] You looked at some of those press releases this morning and time, place and date we touched on.
[1155] Absolutely crucial.
[1156] As I said to you then, I've had press releases which have actually had those crucial things missed out.
[1157] Always read your press releases through very carefully, possibly get somebody else to read them through, because they will pick up the spelling mistakes, the grammatical mistakes, the punctuation errors, and they will see, when they get to the end, and say, ‘But you haven't told us when it is.’
[1158] And because you lived with it so long, you know when it is, and you forget that that's a critical piece of information that you need to pass on to somebody else.
[1159] Deadlines.
[1160] If you want to make enemies of editors, miss deadlines.
[1161] Everybody has a deadline, whether it's a, a three month one for a quarterly magazine, a daily one for a newspaper, a, a monthly one.
[1162] And the nature of the business is such that, that you're always up against a deadline.
[1163] Find out the deadlines and make sure that you stick to them.
[1164] If you don't, you will never see the light of day in print.
[1165] We've spoken about double spacing and wide margins.
[1166] That's basically for editing purposes, so that, if the editor, he likes the general ... tenor of what you've said but he perhaps wants to, he wants to chop a little bit out or he wants to put that sentence up there, he's got somewhere that he can actually, he can actually do his editing.
[1167] Again, we said this morning, try and keep it to one page.
[1168] Check all the spellings, and I told you the horror story about ... ... the gentleman whose name was wrongly spelt.
[1169] Finally if you can, and don't feel too much of an idiot doing it, read it out aloud.
[1170] Don't sit and just read it over your desk.
[1171] Read it out aloud and if possible to somebody else.
[1172] And we're back to this thing that if you're not interested in what you've written, why do you think anybody else ought to be?
[1173] People never really about actually sitting and reading these things out loud.
[1174] And it is a very good way to find out whether it's rubbish and whether you actually ought to start again.
[1175] After a while, doing that once or twice, you'll get a real feel for it, and you'll then know how to write it and, and to get it right.
[1176] But while you are still, if you like, feeling your way round a little bit, that is a very good exercise to undertake.
[1177] And, again, notes to the editor, we've already dealt with.
[1178] Now, those little reminders ought to give you a kind of mental map of how to go about writing your press releases this afternoon.
[1179] ... You'll be given a fistful of them and the one that is set for you should be the first one that you do, but then the groups should pick something which is as far as possible relevant to what's actually going on in your profession at the moment.
[1180] Because over the coming months I suspect that as a result of the E P A you are going to be called on more and more for information, for putting out press releases, for talking to people, for talking on the telephone, ... I mean, every single newspaper now seems to have an environmental reporter, and you're going to be, I suspect, right in the forefront of it.
[1181] The day to get it not quite right, or even entirely wrong, is today.
[1182] The day not to get it entirely wrong is when the guy's actually knocking at your door and say, ‘Speak to me.’
[1183] So — we would much rather that you went out on a limb, that you did something, that you listened to the remarks of your peers and possibly to the remarks that we might make about them, take them away and think about them.
[1184] We're not actually saying, ‘This is right, and this is wrong.’
[1185] What we're saying is, that this is a very good way to approach writing press releases.
[1186] And we hope that you will listen to the criticisms that each of you ... gives to each of the other groups, and when Bob Satchwell comes that he will have something very positive to say about relationships with the press.
[1187] okay
bs (PS62L) [1188] Would you kindly write your press releases on a sheet of this paper, if you can bear to do this, ... so that we can pin them up on the wall and we can walk around and see each other 's press releases and this'll be a good way of actually discussing them, I think.
[1189] ... One point, just to add to what Liz is saying, and I support everything she's said, one further point is that accuracy is terribly important because if you actually have a mistake in the press release, and the editors publish it or it's broadcast and a whole lot of listeners or readers write in and complain, they'll find it very hard to forgive you because they get themselves in a terrible problem, so do be sure you're giving them accurate information all the time.
[1190] It's a courtesy which is important.
[1191] And the third thing I wanted to say is we've got one or two handouts for you ... which are on the front table at the moment, about various broadcasting situations and press releases, the three coloured bits of paper.
[1192] At some point if you'd like to help yourself, it's a sort of, ... just a, just an aid to memory on some of the things we've been saying, please feel free to do so.
[1193] So if you'd like to collect some paper, collect a script, are you going to hand them out, Liz, or Bob
ro (PS62M) [1194] No, I
lf (PS62R) [1195] Bob's going to give them a blind choice.
ro (PS62M) [1196] What I've got there [...] there are three scenarios, one from each group, so someone from Group A — Who's in Group B?
[1197] Now Group C, there you are then, that's what's left.
bs (PS62L) [1198] All right.
[1199] And what time is tea, Bob?
lf (PS62R) [1200] Three o'clock.
ro (PS62M) [1201] ... Tea
a (PS62G) [1202] Right.
[1203] Morning, ladies and gentlemen, welcome back.
[1204] ... I trust you all enjoyed the meal last night and Duncan's stories.
[1205] Anybody who's still trying to work out the story about the wreath and the river, there wasn't any point to it.
[1206] It was put in there to make us all wonder what the hell he was talking about. [laugh]
a (PS62G) [1207] That was the idea.
[1208] Well, it, it worked.
[1209] [peopl etalking] The part of the course I've enjoyed so far isn't the ... Face the Media stuff
lf (PS62R) [1210] Thank you!
[1211] Shall we leave, shall we leave now?
a (PS62G) [1212] It's not the local press, it wasn't the dinner, it was the dirty jokes session in the bar afterwards. [laugh]
a (PS62G) [1213] There was a young lady from Thurry. [laugh]
a (PS62G) [1214] Anyway, on with this morning.
[1215] We're up to local radio and television today, ... if today is as good as yesterday was, I think you'll all enjoy it.
lf (PS62R) [1216] [laugh] Thank you very much.
[1217] Well, this morning it's our great pleasure to welcome ... three ... visitors to the session, one of whom I'm not entirely sure is welcome because I understand that in fact he's in some way ... a slight opposition in that he runs his own training course.
[1218] Is that right, John?
b (PS62H) [1219] Yes, well, yes. [laugh]
lf (PS62R) [1220] Would you, would you care to leave now?
[1221] We've hidden all the handouts.
[1222] ... John, John Venables, who is the science correspondents for Radio Cambridge, and as I say who also runs his own media training sessions; Julian Dunn , who is Senior News Reporter for Radio Cambridge, so I hope he's going to kneecap a few of you and make life fairly uncomfortable when he's doing some trial interviews, and Lloyd Addison, who's a freelance from Radio Norfolk.
[1223] I was also given some other information about him, but for his sake I'll keep it quiet. [laugh]
lf (PS62R) [1224] It's very nice to have them with us.
[1225] We're going to start with ... a shortish session, a shortish session this morning.
bs (PS62L) [1226] One of the golden rules is, if you can't
lf (PS62R) [1227] If you can't say it
bs (PS62L) [1228] say it, don't even try to say it.
lf (PS62R) [laugh]
bs (PS62L) [1229] Carry on.
lf (PS62R) [1230] And ... then, ... we hope we're going to give you a laugh
bs (PS62L) [1231] Just [...] , you just carry on
lf (PS62R) [1232] Will you kindly shut up? [laugh]
bs (PS62L) [1233] Don't feel embarrassed.
lf (PS62R) [1234] Will you kindly shut up? [laugh]
bs (PS62L) [1235] You're amongst friends.
[1236] The important rule, if it's live, keep going and the interviewer will help you keep going
lf (PS62R) [1237] What about the
bs (PS62L) [1238] Facilitate [people talking] [laugh]
lf (PS62R) [1239] the, [laugh]
lf (PS62R) [1240] What about ‘the strengths of the system’?
[1241] I've got that on tape, of you.
[1242] We're going to, I hope, give you a laugh at our expense and really show you how quite a good interview can, can be totally ruined and, and sent down the pan.
[1243] But first of all Brian's going to talk about some of the outlets and the sort of things that you could be looking for.
bs (PS62L) [1244] Thank you very
lf (PS62R) [1245] It's all yours and I'll interrupt, I'm [...]
bs (PS62L) [1246] Gentlemen, it occurs to us that you're going, we're going to be waffling on for half an hour plus, in a sense.
[1247] Perhaps you'd like to sit down rather than sort of hover at the back, it's up to you entirely but ... you may feel that you're slightly uncomfortable.
[1248] Please come and join the, the group and, and chip in if you felt free at all.
[1249] Local radio.
[1250] ... It's a high-risk enterprise for us to, to pontificate about local radio, particularly as we have three as it were local radio representatives here, and we shall give them ample opportunity to confirm or deny the sort of things we're saying.
[1251] But what we would say to you, if you're actually thinking about going into this media, raising your profile a bit, becoming more pro-active, that local radio provides ... an admirable opportunity for developing your skills.
[1252] What we said in the introductory session is a lot of this is to do with skills.
[1253] It's acquiring expertise, and this comes through actually doing things, practising things, learning things, trying things out in a sense.
[1254] And a very good way of doing that is obviously to find suitable outlets, and I would suggest that suitable outlets very often consist of local radio, which there is a thirst, on the whole, for good, appropriate items.
[1255] I am going to take a risk and say what I think about local radio on the basis of my ... knowledge, personal knowledge, and these gentlemen can as it, as it were sort of say it's, it's not like that for them or whatever.
[1256] Certainly the local radio in my experience is underfunded.
[1257] The people on it are overworked and they are actually very keen to get material which comes to them readily, cheaply, and, and in an, in an easy form.
[1258] They actually are welcoming good material in various senses, and in particular, they will welcome people who have a good story, a nice item, which they're prepared to come and record, either in the studio, or record on a Ewer somewhere on tape.
[1259] So, in my experience certainly down in the Sussex area, there's, there's great opportunity for people who have something worthwhile saying, who understand how to repackage what they're saying in such a way that it will keep local radio audiences listening, and who are prepared to learn the minimum ... techniques and skills necessary to come across reasonably well.
[1260] So local radio is a very good way of getting into it.
[1261] You have national radio, of course, but in a sense there's less of it, in terms of hour times, and you have to be that much better to get on it, and the opportunities are not nearly as flagrant as on local radio.
[1262] There's a sense in which the two are related, because sometimes national radio picks up stuff which is done on local radio, and certainly in the B B C network, local, B B C local radio makes a point of actually sending a certain amount of material on a regular basis to national radio, there is this link, and both in terms of personnel and in terms of material.
[1263] There are other outlets, if you want to learn the media game, in terms of speech and view, as it were, hospital radio, I don't know whether you have any hospitals in your region but increasingly hospital radio offers ... an opportunity and a challenge, and welcomes people who would like to try their hand at becoming sort of D.J.s, or features editors, or are prepared to talk ... interestingly about subjects, and this you would only know from a local point of view.
[1264] Certainly down in Sussex we have one or two people who, one or two places that have hospital radio, and welcome people who are prepared to have a go, in that sense, and that is an even more limited way of, but a legitimate way of, of learning the game as it were.
[1265] T.V. is relatively difficult to get onto, in terms of you taking the initiatives, you contact the B B C or I T V and say, ‘I have a thing which you ought to have,’ and unless it's really outstanding, the chances are relatively small of getting on unless you are very lucky or you know somebody or you just hit the right spot at the right time.
[1266] T V, on the whole, generates material for itself, and makes little forays out into your territory and picks up people.
[1267] But again, if you, if you have a little skill and a little experience, you know how to put a story particularly with some visual appeal as opposed to just sound appeal, then there is, if you're in the right place at the right time you can get in.
[1268] And, in a sense, we've, just to complete what we've been talking about so far, there's always the question of press and magazines and house style, just to remind you that you really need to study formats if you're going to try and as a freelance [...] we talked about that yesterday.
[1269] Let me just say one or two things about radio and ... see whether it makes sense to people, and in particular whether it makes sense to our colleagues from the local radio in this region.
[1270] One of the things you'll find depressing about this course is, that you'll find yourself very concerned about how articulate you are.
[1271] Most of us start sentences we can't finish.
[1272] Most of us get muddled, most of us can't find the right word, most of us ‘um’ and ‘er’at various points as we're talking.
[1273] The really the fundamental point and the bottom line, in terms of all broadcasting, is to be interesting.
[1274] It helps if you're articulate, it helps if you can start a sentence and finish it, it helps if you've got a, an interesting voice and so on, but the bottom line is to be interesting.
[1275] Because the bottom line so far as a broadcaster's concerned, or a studio's, a station's concerned, is to keep the listeners listening.
[1276] Now I think this is a very interesting point because if you go home, and over the next few days do what most people do after course like this, and that is they listen perhaps a little bit to radio, certainly watch some T V and, and think about all these issues, one of the things that will surprise you is that some of the people who are prominent broadcasters are really rather incompetent.
[1277] Insofar as they do ‘um’ and ‘er’, they scratch their ears, they start things they can't finish and so on and, make all these things.
[1278] So why are they good, or at least, if they're not good, why are they paid so much to do what they're doing?
[1279] Well, the answer is, because they can keep viewers viewing and listeners listening.
[1280] You watch somebody like Wogan, I mean I, I'm not saying Wogan's good, but on the whole, [laugh] in fact I don't think he is good
lf (PS62R) [1281] He wants to get
bs (PS62L) [1282] But on the whole, he has ... certainly historically, a pretty high rating in terms of viewers' viewing.
[1283] It's going down now rapidly, but it, it originally that.
[1284] And why in the hell did people watch Wogan?
[1285] Well that's a very good question, I'm not sure I can answer it.
[1286] But part of the reason is that a lot of the masses as it were, do actually like watching him bumbling around getting muddled up and so on and so forth .
[1287] It's, it's because he can pull the audience in.
[1288] And people on radio, some of the more inarticulate, the reason they're there is because research or folklore has it that people listen to what they're saying.
[1289] And that is the bottom line.
[1290] And that's an encouraging line because those of us, and I include myself who am not always articulate, who can't always get the, the words together to make a sentence and finish it, can try nevertheless to come up with something which is interesting, can contain the ‘Hey, this is for you,’ for the audience, along the lines we've been talking about yesterday.
[1291] So if you feel discouraged, in that you don't think you can put two words together, or discouraged because you ‘um’ and ‘er’or anything else of that kind, just say to yourself, ‘I can perhaps overcome this, but what I can certainly overcome is being boring,’if you are.
[1292] ‘And I can certainly think of ways in which I can talk about this in such a way that Mrs Jones doing her washing up, Mr Brown driving to work, E H Os idling time in their offices, listen to the radio, can actually listen and enjoy it.’
[1293] Sir, you wanted to say something, or were you just scratching your head?
lf (PS62R) [laugh]
b (PS62H) [1294] [...] Are you suggesting that apart from this relief you've been set you might see Wogan tonight or something you could think ... ... ...
bs (PS62L) [1295] [laugh] You can't believe it's quite so bad, you mean, is that [laugh]
bs (PS62L) ...
b (PS62H) [1296] [...] people off.
[1297] If you could relate to somebody, [...] in the lobby, escalator
bs (PS62L) [1298] Yes
b (PS62H) [1299] probably more
bs (PS62L) [1300] It's something to do with relating to it, but it's something to do with the, the final, the bottom line is that people watch.
[1301] And although they like it or hate it, they watch, and that's what the, that's what T V wants.
[1302] And the same is true for radio.
[1303] ... It's very concerned with its ratings.
[1304] On a local level it's quite hard to distinguish ratings, but there is a certain folklore and sometimes it's an information that comes out as to whether people to listen to things or don't listen to things.
[1305] But ... fundamentally ... what succeeds is what keeps people listening or watching and so forth, and I'm suggesting that that's something to do, it, it's something to do with being interesting and relevant and catching the imagination of that particular audience group.
[1306] And I'm putting this forward as something to encourage us all, because sometimes we can't be articulate, sometimes we can't look beautiful, most of the times you can't look beautiful, but we can all think of ways of creating an interesting story.
[1307] Yesterday we were talking a lot about angles, about ‘Hey, this is for you,’ about hooking people in.
[1308] I'm sure you'll hear more about this today.
[1309] So I just put this forward as something to, perhaps to, to interest you.
[1310] Now, the other thing that I mentioned yesterday, or we mentioned yesterday, was that local radio is ... opportunity for practice in various ways, and most local radio in most forms, and ... we will have to know what the local knowledge is here, do welcome people who are sufficiently interested to contribute stories, information, angles for their programmes.
[1311] They're underpaid, overworked, underappreciated, and they're looking for material, particularly from people who understand the sort of material that, that works on local radio.
[1312] So there are opportunities, and it's worthwhile building up contacts.
[1313] Something which is important to say is that the first time you have a contact with somebody and you do a piece, you're, you're meeting for the first time, it's slightly awkward and you're getting to know each other slightly, the second time you do it easier, it's easier, and if you establish relationships with the local press, local radio and so forth, it gets easier and easier all the time, because by the time you get to know people, it's not sort of ‘Can I speak to somebody who does a programme about the morning whatever it is?
[1314] You don't know me, my name is Jimmy Cricket, I think I have a story which will, you will find desperately interesting, would you like to come and interview me?’
[1315] ‘Oh, yes, yes, yes, tell me more.’
[1316] It's that sort of silly type of conversation.
[1317] If you've done it and it works, the next time you do it is ‘Hi, Joe.
[1318] Do you remember we did a bit about noise last year?
[1319] I've got another piece which I think you'd like, it's all to do with food poisoning, which is rampant in Cambridge, ... I think you'd like to know how many people are dying each week.
[1320] [people talking] Are you interested?’
[1321] ‘Oh, yes, come on in, we'll fit that in, would you like to come into the morning programme or, I'll come out with a Ewer and we'll do a bit and we'll slot it in.
[1322] This sounds like a news item whatever it is.’
[1323] My point is, I'm being silly, facetious, my point is, the more you have contacts with people, the more they understand that you understand what the thing is all about and are likely to deliver the goods in a way that is useful, the easier it is.
[1324] You have a track record and you build up this understanding and you acquire the skills, and it gets easier and easier.
[1325] And moreover, they'll come back to you.
[1326] People work, people in the media, work on a range of contacts, it's the easiest thing to do.
[1327] If something comes up — there's an earthquake in Peterborough.
[1328] ‘Right.
[1329] We've got to do a bit on an earthquake.
[1330] Who the hell do we know ... anything about ... earthquakes?
[1331] I know.
[1332] ... Robert Bloggins, he did a piece on the, on the last earthquake when it was in Ely, let's go out and see him.
[1333] He, he was good value.’
[1334] So ... ... out you go [...] You know people initially work using networks, and then if they don't have somebody that corresponds to something which they've got to do then they perhaps will phone the university or the poly and say, ‘Have you got anyone that knows anything about jam fritters or whatever it is, we want to do a piece because it's current,’ and somebody's unearthed in that particular way.
[1335] But it's really worth developing contacts in that particular way.
[1336] Now, two further points and then we'll move into a slightly different mode.
[1337] ... One is that twenty years ago, one would have predicted that local radio and radio in general would be dead by now.
[1338] We'd have thought we'd ... nobody'd ever listen to radio.
[1339] But in fact it would all be T V and the Sun and the Mirror, and nothing else would be around very much.
[1340] In fact radio is alive, kicking and expanding, and there are thousands of hours of radio going out, locally particularly, and every indication there are going to be more and more community radio stations in the future, and this is hungry time for material, so lots of opportunities in that particular way, at this stage.
[1341] So that underlines the point I was making, or belabouring, that there is a lot of opportunity on local radio.
[1342] Now, the final point I want to make in this little section, and I think Liz is going to help me make this point, and that is that one of your problems, which is not a big problem compared with some organizations, is you've got to take what you're doing, and repackage it in such way that it is of interest to ordinary people.
[1343] And I'm thinking now in terms of local radio.
[1344] You've got to think ‘What do I want to say?
[1345] What is it I can say?
[1346] And how can I say it in such a way that it is of interest to the people that are likely to listen to it?’
[1347] You're very fortunate, as I pointed out to a group yesterday.
[1348] We did a course with the Daresbury Nuclear Laboratory, whose prime interest is running a syncrotron radiation source.
[1349] Now tell that to the general public.
[1350] And syncrotron sounds terribly technical, radiation is hazardous, and source comes out of the bottle and you put it on fish and chips.
[1351] So how do you actually get across to the public something about this which makes the public love them?
[1352] And appreciate them and feel they're worthwhile?
[1353] That's a very difficult issue, and when we started working with this particular group of people they said, ‘We can't do it.
[1354] This is a complicated, scientific bit of equipment, and really you need to have a P H D in physics to have any appreciation what a syncrotron radiation source is.’
[1355] And our comment to them at that particular stage was, ‘Well, if that's the case that's the case.
[1356] But don't be surprised if people think that you're esoteric, people think that you're not doing anything worthwhile, people think that you're, are rather scared of what you're doing there, and people won't support you locally or politically in what you're doing.
[1357] And moreover don't you feel you have a responsibility to explain to ordinary people, particularly in your area, what it is you're doing and why it's important and why you should go on doing it?’
[1358] And after a certain amount of discussion they accepted that point, and we had some very interesting ... sessions in which they learnt to say things like, ‘Well the syncrotron is a bit like a racetrack for very small particles which exist in atoms.
[1359] And as the particles go round and round this racetrack, it's a bit like a car with its headlights going on, and as it goes faster and faster the car headlights more or less catch up with each other, you see what I'm saying.
[1360] And it's a bit like that, and what happens,’ and they go, went on and explained what happened and why it was interesting, and in particular why, by doing this, you could come up with an X-ray source which can help cure cancer, and can do scans in a way which you can't do by other methods.
[1361] And suddenly they found themselves talking the sort of language that all of us can understand, and they got quite excited about this.
[1362] It didn't stop them getting into very severe financial difficulties, and you may have read about this in recent times, it, there's a proposal that the Science and Engineering Research Council may be so short of funds it may close the laboratory down.
[1363] But in a sense, they will stand a better chance of staying open and being appreciated and supported by the public, if in fact they're going to devote a modicum of their time to explaining to the popular, population as a whole, what they're doing, why it's important and why they should carry on doing it.
[1364] Now if I could try and translate that into your particular sphere of interest, you are doing things with noise, with food, with roofs I heard the other day, yesterday, which surprised me, and a variety of other things, which people understand.
[1365] They might not understand what you're doing and why you're doing it, necessarily, they won't understand the regulations and the rules and all, and all the details, but they understand, this is, this is what their lives composed of, consists of.
[1366] So they potentially can be very interested in this.
[1367] So you, what you've got to do, is to think of ways in which you can translate the technicalities into simple language that other, that ordinary people can understand and appreciate what it is you're doing and why it's important.
[1368] And you must discover ways in which you can link this to ordinary people's concerns.
[1369] And if you can do that, then you very much become media-worthy.
[1370] It's a sort of ‘Hey, this is for you, Mrs Jones.’
[1371] You may think that noise just has something to do with an airport at Stanstead, but it isn't.
[1372] It's to do with your everyday life, and it's to do with this, and that, and the other, and translate that into other things.
[1373] Are you concerned, when you go to a restaurant, you might get food poisoning?
[1374] Is there a real problems about eggs, and some of that salmonella?
[1375] What about listeria What about food in supermarkets?
[1376] What are the rules, what are the regulations?
[1377] Who's doing what about it?
[1378] Is it our responsibility, is there any law?
[1379] What happens if things go wrong?
[1380] Should we report things if things go wrong?
[1381] How can we cope?
[1382] You know, all these things which — I'm displaying my ignorance because some of these come into your area, some of these don't quite, but these are very much the concerns of ordinary people.
[1383] And if you can express what you're doing in a way which catches their imagination, you've got marvellous media material.
c (PS62J) [1384] Yes, but there are dangers in that.
[1385] You have to know who your audience is.
[1386] And the guy that we all know, called Dr Richard Bately , is that his name? [laugh]
c (PS62J) [1387] Yes, you all laugh — who, all right, he makes — some of the things he says are valid, but because he's watered his message down, if you, well ‘watered down’ is the wrong, popularized his message to make a political point, at the same time he's alienated other people who he needs to rely on in this scientific community to help him go, go forward.
bs (PS62L) [1388] Two comments in response to that.
[1389] One is that people think that watering down is the same as popularization.
[1390] I think explaining things to people in lay terms is an incredibly difficult thing to do, highly skilled thing to do, and should not be diminished or sneered at.
[1391] I think it's much, much harder than talking in technical terms to, to peer group and colleagues.
[1392] So I think the people who say, ‘Oh, he's gone down the Swanee, he's talking pop, or he's writing children's books, or he's waving his hands on television,’ balderdash as far as they're concerned, I think they're, they're just being very stupid.
[1393] I think there's a desperate need for people to actually be prepared to learn the skills and to do the very, very difficult work of doing that.
[1394] And the second point I make is that if there are fools who are doing it wrongly then some of you ought to be doing it correctly.
[1395] I mean there ought to be many more people on the right side, as it were, rather than the wrong side.
[1396] If there's a vacuum, then there'll be a few charlatans, a few fools, a few incompetents who will fill that vacuum, because there is a need for people to, to be instant experts on everything.
[1397] The media need them.
[1398] But if there are a lot of sensible people who are skilful and well-respected professionally, who are not grinding axes but are in the game of explanation and, and entertainment and information-sharing, then these, these fools and these charlatans won't, won't exist
c (PS62J) [1399] Yes but
bs (PS62L) [1400] Or they could be put down by other people.
c (PS62J) [1401] just going to sit back and, and watch Lacey and, and sneer
bs (PS62L) [1402] That's right.
c (PS62J) [1403] at some of the things he says, and you agree with other things he says, but when there's nobody else who's is trying to get a message over to the general public.
lf (PS62R) [1404] Well maybe some of you should [people talking] ... Absolutely.
c (PS62J) [1405] But what do you do ... not if they
lf (PS62R) [1406] Absolutely.
bs (PS62L) [1407] That's right.
lf (PS62R) [1408] Absolutely.
bs (PS62L) [1409] That's have some more people from here who are prepared to go it locally and essentially say, ‘I'm ... ’ and prove it, by their record, that ‘I can talk sensibly about these, these matters’.
[1410] Sensibly, but in a, in a context of actually keeping people listening.
[1411] Entertainingly, interestingly, etcetera, etcetera, all along the lines we've been talking.
[1412] So don't let's moan about, I mean thank you for your point, I'm not putting you down, but let, let's sort of get up there and, and go for it if we, if we feel we can contribute.
c (PS62J) [1413] It's very interesting that, that you, you mention that, as most people don't yet got their copy of the date Yellow Pages, it was an away from home and I, I wasn't, and it was in fact in today's Yellow Pages ... an article by David Mason on Richard Lacey's new book which he's, seems to be selling at twelve ninety-nine a copy, ... which, which he says makes hardly any mention of the A B Os, and there's a comment here from ... Linda Allen, Undersecretary [...] and basically it's all very negative, we don't like this and we don't like that.
[1414] But it simply underlines how ineffective ... we've been in, in counteracting what, what he's been saying when we, when we think it's absolute rubbish.
lf (PS62R) [1415] Well as long as you continue to talk about particulate depositions, when you mean smuts on Mrs Brown's last clean white shirt, nobody's going to understand a great deal of what you're talking about.
[1416] And I've actually heard an E H O talking about problems of, of ... smuts coming out of chimneys and talking about, you know, there was a very heavy particulate deposition, and we said, ‘What the hell's he talking about?’
[1417] And if you say to Mrs Smith, ‘A lot of smut's coming out of that chimney and we're going to do something about it, fitting retroscrubbers or whatever, you know, the answer is,’ then you will understand what you're on about.
[1418] Mind you, we're very lucky, we have a great expert with us this morning.
bs (PS62L) [1419] Yes, shall we do our interview?
lf (PS62R) [1420] Yes, I think so.
bs (PS62L) [1421] Coming
lf (PS62R) [1422] We
bs (PS62L) [1423] Coming into Radio Girton, I think it was
lf (PS62R) [1424] [laugh] Radio, Radio Girton.
bs (PS62L) [1425] Radio Girton.
lf (PS62R) [1426] Yes, Radio Girton.
[1427] Well, ladies and gentlemen, I'm very pleased to be able to tell you that with me this morning is ... Dr Brian Smith who is Managing Director of Smith Acoustiphonics International.
[1428] Now we all know that the problem of noise is something which is going to be very high on your agenda in the coming weeks.
[1429] Now, I haven't met this gentleman, but I'm told that he is a great expert ... on the question of sound and the nature of sound and, and the problems by it, and ... I've invited him into the studio and I'm going to interview him.
[1430] So just sit back and wait while I disappear into the studio.
[1431] Well, good morning, ... Dr Smith, very nice to
bs (PS62L) [1432] Good morning, Mrs Felcombe.
c (PS62J) [1433] I understand you're the Managing Director of ... Smith ... Acoustiphonics International.
bs (PS62L) [1434] Well, I'm not actually the Managing Director.
[1435] I will be next week, but up to now I've been the Deputy Managing Director.
[1436] The Managing Director is actually leaving, he's going to another company, but I don't suppose you want to know that.
c (PS62J) [1437] Not a lot, no.
[1438] Well, now, [laugh] can you tell us something about the nature of noise?
[1439] It's going to be very important to Environmental Health Officers in the coming weeks, and I know you are a specialist in noise.
[1440] What actually is the nature of noise and how do we measure it?
bs (PS62L) [1441] Yes ... you would like me to talk about noise.
c (PS62J) [1442] Yes I would.
bs (PS62L) [1443] Right.
[1444] ... Successions of acoustical pressure fluctuations give rise to auditory stimulation, and these can be measured by a pressure sensitive transducer displaying the resultant amplified electrical impulses by analogue or digital means.
[1445] The former measurement is in terms of a value equal to twenty times the logarithm to the base ten of the ratio of the root-means square pressure of a sound to the reference pressure, which is normally taken to be two times ten to the minus five newtons per square metre, and the unit of measurement is on a uniform scale based upon ten times the logarithm to the base ten
lf (PS62R) [1446] But
bs (PS62L) [1447] of the ratio
lf (PS62R) [1448] But
bs (PS62L) [1449] of sound intensities being compared.
[1450] Thus the scale of a logarithmic rather than linear nature, and human
lf (PS62R) [1451] What
bs (PS62L) [1452] auditory response — just a moment, I, let me finish — is non-uniform over the span of the frequency spectrum to which it is sensitive.
[1453] Response is dependent on the amplitude and the wave-length of the acoustical
lf (PS62R) [1454] Excuse me.
bs (PS62L) [1455] pressure
lf (PS62R) [1456] Excuse me.
bs (PS62L) [1457] Yes?
lf (PS62R) [1458] ... I'm not entirely sure that my listeners will understand what you're talking about.
bs (PS62L) [1459] Well, as I was explaining, we've built into our amplifier the pressure-sensitive transducer of pressure-sensitive attenuating network, which is the inverse of an equal loudness curve, the resultant readings being denoted by D B As, that's decibels of the A kind.
lf (PS62R) [1460] ... Excuse me, is that, is that all about noise?
bs (PS62L) [1461] In a nutshell, yes. [laugh]
lf (PS62R) [1462] How many of you would have actually switched off by now?
[1463] Yes — oh, gosh, the rest of you are very good — anyone
c (PS62J) [1464] ... explanation. [laugh]
lf (PS62R) [1465] [laugh] Well, I mean, obviously we've, we've played that totally for laughs.
[1466] But
bs (PS62L) [1467] You feel you had to explain that, do you? [laugh]
lf (PS62R) [1468] Well, you and I, you and I, have both come across people, not quite as bad as that.
[1469] But Brian actually did interview one person, for forty-five minutes?
bs (PS62L) [1470] This was on, this was on tape, it wasn't a live thing.
[1471] I actually asked one question and he spoke for forty minutes without stopping.
[1472] I started by looking at him.
[1473] I then did this.
[1474] I then got up and went out and had a cup of coffee and came back, he was still talking.
[1475] In fact I broadcast that material, but I cut it into three programmes, and I, I cut in the questions I would have asked if he'd actually given me a chance to ask them. [laugh]
bs (PS62L) [1476] It went down quite well.
lf (PS62R) [1477] But ... this is what we're saying about, I mean, that's the sound equivalent of, of particulate depositions if you like.
[1478] But on the other hand people are interested in the nature of noise, people are interested in neighbour noise, ... aeroplane noise, motorcycle noise, ... and so it is possible that, that some of you will, will be interviewed on that kind of thing.
[1479] And what we've now done is put together a similar type of interview, but which is, as we said yesterday, a bat and ball situation, where I ask a question, he answers it, leaving the next question hanging if you like
bs (PS62L) [1480] We hope.
lf (PS62R) [1481] ... that's the best type, we hope so.
[1482] It depends [laugh] Shut up.
[1483] It depends ... how much information you give.
[1484] If you absolutely insist in giving all your information in the first answer, there's no room for a further question, and the best kind of response is the one that leaves the next question sort of hanging on the end of it, so that the interviewer can come back with another question.
[1485] Let us see how the Managing Director of Smith Acoustiphonics International copes with this.
[1486] Good morning, Dr Smith.
[1487] Very nice to have you in the studio.
bs (PS62L) [1488] Good morning, Liz.
lf (PS62R) [1489] ... Now, I understand that you are ... a very senior member of an international company, what actually is your position in the company?
bs (PS62L) [1490] Well, I'm, I'm now Managing Director of ... a group called Smith Sound Level Meters Ltd and we make the sort of meters that measure noise.
lf (PS62R) [1491] How is noise actually measured?
bs (PS62L) [1492] You, you, we're, I presume we're talking about the sounds that can be heard by our ears, by
lf (PS62R) [1493] Yes.
bs (PS62L) [1494] in normal life.
[1495] These are, these sounds are measured on an instrument called a sound level meter.
lf (PS62R) [1496] How, how do these meters work?
[1497] Is it something that I would be walking about with, or?
bs (PS62L) [1498] Well, you could do, if, particularly if you had one of our meters, but what, what happens, as sound goes through the air it causes small pressure fluctuations, and our meter measures the size of these, and it gives a reading on a scale in units which we call decibels.
lf (PS62R) [1499] What actually is a decibel scale?
bs (PS62L) [1500] Well, it, that's a rather complicated question to answer, it's all to do with physics and so on, but I'll, I'll have a go at it, if you like.
[1501] The most important feature is that so far as human hearing's concerned, each increase of ten decibels, the loudness of the sound doubles.
lf (PS62R) [1502] So, the meter response to pressure change is just like a human ear?
bs (PS62L) [1503] More or less, yes, except that, because the human ear responds to different frequencies, or pictures of sound, with different sensitivities, the sound meter has to be adapted so it responds in the same way.
[1504] In other words the meter tries to reproduce the sort of listening qualities that a human ear would.
[1505] Could I just say that readings taken in this adapted way are called decibels A-weighted, which is a bit sort of technical and silly, but it's kind of important if you're measuring the sort of sound that people listen to.
[1506] We call it, sorry, it's D B A for short.
lf (PS62R) [1507] How many, how many decibels would a loud noise be?
bs (PS62L) [1508] Well, it depends on what circumstances and what situation you're in.
[1509] A mosquito probably registers about ten or twenty decibels, and this could be very annoying if you were trying to sleep and one was buzzing around you, but in our trade we're normally talking about a level of perhaps sixty or seventy decibels ... which is tolerable and the sort of noise perhaps we're making at the moment.
[1510] Ninety to a hundred decibels gets pretty uncomfortable, and a noisy factory can go up to about a hundred and twenty decibels ... and Environmental Health Officers for example are very concerned about this because it causes long-term problems in people's ears.
[1511] ... Hundred and thirty to a hundred and forty's the limit of physical pain, you really would scream if you were getting a noise input at that level.
lf (PS62R) [1512] So that's why it's important for people to wear noise muffs,
bs (PS62L) [1513] Absolutely.
lf (PS62R) [1514] and ear-muffs in a noisy
bs (PS62L) [1515] If they want to, if they want to keep their hearing into ripe old age, they've really got to watch the level.
lf (PS62R) [1516] So noise is very important.
bs (PS62L) [1517] It's important for most people in most circumstances, but the level at which it's important does depend very much on the circumstances.
[1518] But roughly speaking, I, ... a figure worth remembering is that ninety decibels and above can cause permanent damage and under all circumstances situations above this level should be avoided.
lf (PS62R) [1519] So young people using Sony Walkmans, going to discos once, twice a week and then going into a noisy job could permanently impair their, their hearing.
bs (PS62L) [1520] They're being incredibly silly, they really ought not to do that, because it can impair their hearing for life.
lf (PS62R) [1521] Well, thank you very much for explaining this to us, Dr Smith.
bs (PS62L) [1522] You're very welcome, Liz.
lf (PS62R) [1523] Not riveting stuff, but at least understandable to ... you know, the man on the Clapham omnibus, and it probably tells him enough to say to his, his child, you know, for heaven's sake take that Sony Walkman off.
[1524] But I understand, and somebody here will no doubt correct me, that there is research to show that if you do actually walk about with a Sony Walkman, go to ... noisy discos, and then go into a noisy working environment, that by the age of thirty you can lose up to a third of your hearing.
bs (PS62L) [1525] And that, and that
lf (PS62R) [1526] Is that, is that, that is correct, isn't it?
[1527] Now, I understand that.
bs (PS62L) [1528] And that would give the local radio interviewer a very good in, because it would be much better to start with some comment along that lines which would
lf (PS62R) [1529] It's unlikely that they will trap you and use your bad reply.
[1530] It's always possible, but it's unlikely.
[1531] Or you can simply sabotage the thing by coughing loudly and exploding all over the place and then of course they simply can't use it.
[1532] Or you can do what I have just said, which is, say ... ‘I, I've made a mistake there, I think I'll do it again, what I want to say is this.’
[1533] Now there's a nice little space there.
[1534] It can be taken out, the rubbish can be taken out, but there is enough space for it, to, to make it sound conversational.
[1535] So do bear those things in mind, because part of today and yesterday has been saying to you, how you can present yourselves to radio and T V in such a way that you're not only experts in your specific subjects, but you are sufficiently expert in the techniques that go to make up good radio, that people will say, ‘Let's have so-and-so back again.
[1536] They're good value for money, they understand their subject, but most of all they don't give me any grief.’
[1537] We said yesterday, journalists are frequently ... very pushed for time, some of them are lazy, and the more help you give them, and the same is true for radio, the better.
[1538] If I'm interviewing you at half past twelve for a piece for the one o'clock news, I don't want to have to take out reams and reams and reams of tape.
[1539] And tape goes past the head at about seven and a half inches a second.
[1540] You work out how much tape I'm going to have to take out, if I've only got to edit a minute out of what you're saying.
bs (PS62L) [1541] And the other difficulty is that if you're, if you're talking on a controversial subject, and you give three minutes and they only want one minute, they might actually choose the one minute you don't want actually used.
lf (PS62R) [1542] Absolutely.
bs (PS62L) [1543] So, if they have some idea of time scale and say, ‘How much are you looking for?
[1544] What is this for?
[1545] Is it live recorded?
[1546] How much are you looking for.’
lf (PS62R) [1547] You should not let radio happen to you, you shouldn't let any of the media happen to you.
[1548] You should always ask the questions, and that is another way that people will understand that you know what goes on the other side of the microphone.
[1549] And we can't emphasise enough how important that is.
bs (PS62L) [1550] Now.
[1551] It's quarter past ten, at half past ten there's coffee, so you've got a lifeline to cling on to, and then at half past, after coffee we shall be doing some other things with, with our friends who have joined and who are real local radio people.
[1552] Now, what I, going to suggest we do, in the fifteen minutes which remains are two things.
[1553] One is that I'm going to give ... John and Julian and Lloyd an opportunity to say anything that they are burning to say on the basis of hearing us waffle for an hour or so, anything they wish to chip in.
[1554] And then I think I want to ask you people the question, ‘What is it that you do which is potentially interesting to the world?’ okay?
[1555] So let's start with the first thing.
lf (PS62R) [1556] There's also one thing that we need, which is the written questions for T V
bs (PS62L) [1557] okay We'll do that So John, ... Julian, Lloyd, anything you want to chip in from your professional viewpoint?
lf (PS62R) [1558] Are you going to come up and join us?
[1559] You three take the middle [...] , we'll take the outside ones.
bs (PS62L) [1560] See how you can speak now
f (PS62N) [1561] Yes.
[1562] Three, three extremely dumb monkeys.
[1563] ... First of all, did you, as individuals, volunteer to come here and spend your time here, or were you sent?
g (PS62P) [1564] No, [...]
f (PS62N) [1565] You all volunteered.
[1566] So that when we get to the mock interview stage, no, no one can actually back out, no one can pretend that they were just sent by their council.
[1567] So you all positively want to have the chance to be interviewed on radio and to put over what you think is important.
Unknown speaker (KRPPSUNK) [1568] Not necessarily. [laugh]
f (PS62N) [1569] You're, you, so you're perhaps here just to find out what trouble you could get into if you ever did agree to do an interview? [laugh]
f (PS62N) [1570] Yes, that's, that's, that's a fair point of view.
[1571] Because very often on courses we find that people have been sort of nominated to go on courses, and quite honestly they don't actually want to be there and they're looking at their watch and as soon as they can get away ... that, that's better.
[1572] So it's nice to know whether people are volunteers or, or conscripts.
[1573] ... The only thing I'd say, I, I would have expected perhaps I missed out on, on yesterday's course, but I would perhaps have expected more emphasis to have been given to something that you mentioned, right at the end, was ‘Find out how long the interview's going to be’.
[1574] Because this to me is really one of the key subjects that can lead to either the success or failure of an interview.
[1575] Very often, I have gone to interview somebody, having told them I want a two and a half minute interview, and I want to cover roughly the following five topics.
[1576] Despite having told them that, it's obviously gone in one ear and out the other ear.
[1577] Their first answer has lasted two and a half minutes.
[1578] So what do I do?
[1579] Do I just switch off the tape recorder and go back and say, ‘Here's a two and a half minute speech’?
[1580] Do I ignore the other four points that I wanted to make?
[1581] And what about the points that they wanted to make?
[1582] So to me the most point thing if you're an interviewee is to find out the duration of the interview.
[1583] How much air time is it going to get?
[1584] Because if you're told that it's going to get a maximum of three minutes air time, and if the interviewer wants to ask five questions, you think there are five topics that you would like to get in, to make five points, then do a bit of mathematics, and work out how long you think each answer should be.
[1585] That is the main failing of interviewees.
[1586] They have no concept of time.
[1587] That, that's, just to point out that
lf (PS62R) [1588] We did cover some of it.
[1589] We did cover that yesterday because obviously it's an absolutely crucial point, and when we do a one-day course, we actually make people do one minute against the clock.
f (PS62N) [1590] That's right.
lf (PS62R) [1591] Because your one minute will be different from
f (PS62N) [1592] That's right.
lf (PS62R) [1593] his one minute
f (PS62N) [1594] That's right.
lf (PS62R) [1595] will be different from your one minute.
[1596] And it's a thing, I mean, certainly with the news interviews I did yesterday we emphasized to people, What do you know about the length of the news interview, and the news interview is perhaps ten minutes with five, six stories.
[1597] What does that tell you?
[1598] Do simple arithmetic.
[1599] And so yes, it's something we emphasize very, very strongly.
f (PS62N) [1600] I think, I think more and more we're going ... for two, two things.
[1601] One is the news byte, which can be anything between fifteen and thirty seconds, and that is basically asking you to give a comment on one particular aspect of a story.
[1602] ... I looked up there, here's one from your Food Facts press release.
[1603] The Council is obviously terribly happy that ... it's got this new service running from nine a.m.
[1604] to five p.m.
[1605] Monday to Friday.
[1606] What do you think my first question would be?
nf (PS62K) [1607] What happens outside those hours?
f (PS62N) [1608] Right!
[1609] Just at the time when people need advice, what's happened, the Council have closed it down.
[1610] That would be my question to you on that one.
[1611] One answer.
[1612] And ... you know you mentioned sort of ten minute interviews.
[1613] I think really, in terms of news programmes now on, on local radio, we're, we're looking at two minutes.
[1614] We're looking at two, two and a half minutes.
lf (PS62R) [1615] No, I'm saying ten minutes as a total news slot, in which there would be
f (PS62N) [1616] Oh, yes.
lf (PS62R) [1617] Five or six
f (PS62N) [1618] Yes.
lf (PS62R) [1619] Stories, do
f (PS62N) [1620] Yes.
lf (PS62R) [1621] some simple
f (PS62N) [1622] Yes.
lf (PS62R) [1623] arithmetic.
f (PS62N) [1624] Yes.
lf (PS62R) [1625] And you've five of them.
f (PS62N) [1626] As far as an interview's concerned, two, two and a half
lf (PS62R) [1627] Absolutely.
f (PS62N) [1628] minutes is probably the maximum.
bs (PS62L) [1629] All right, so you're saying then that ... the person that you're interviewing could be doing, take a stopwatch with them, just to [...] thirty seconds answers.
f (PS62N) [1630] No.
[1631] I think that's the sort of thing you've got to do beforehand.
[1632] You've got to get your mental clock going.
[1633] ... No, I'm not suggesting you come and sit with a stopwatch, because I think that would distract you.
[1634] But what I do suggest is, a useful experiment is to pick a subject, start a stopwatch, talk for what you think is thirty seconds, stop the stopwatch and then see.
[1635] See how far out you are.
bs (PS62L) [1636] I mean, for me personally I think there's actually a decision that if I can't get over ... the full unbiased impression that I want to make about the whole story, I've got to make a decision whether I'm going to talk to you at all.
f (PS62N) [1637] Now, what do you mean by full unbiased impression about the whole story?
[1638] Now that's a bit waffly, isn't it?
[1639] That, that could have been, that could have been cut down. [laugh]
bs (PS62L) [1640] [people talking] If you can't make your point in thirty seconds, then you shouldn't make the point at all.
f (PS62N) [1641] Yes.
[1642] Right.
[1643] So now you're saying, if you can't make ... so we've, we've changed from the full unbiased overall story [laugh]
f (PS62N) [1644] to the point.
bs (PS62L) [1645] Touché.
f (PS62N) [1646] So, we're getting there.
bs (PS62L) [1647] Yes.
f (PS62N) [1648] You've got a point to make.
[1649] What is the most important point you want to make?
[1650] ... I'll give you one story that you may not think could have been cut down, but, the headline read, ‘War Declared’.
[1651] Pretty good editing job.
[1652] Got over the story, didn't it?
[1653] ‘War Declared’.
[1654] That was, that, but it got over the main point of the story.
[1655] Now [laugh]
f (PS62N) [1656] if you can get over the main point of that story in two words, I'm sure you can get over the main point of any of those stories in thirty seconds.
f (PS62N) [1657] I think that's far too long.
[1658] It should be War exclamation mark. [laugh]
f (PS62N) [1659] That was, that was the version for the Sun readers.
b (PS62H) [1660] I think in a two-minute interview what you can expect is no more than two or three questions, possibly four.
f (PS62N) [1661] mhm
b (PS62H) [1662] And also the number of points that you want to make, particularly if you're doing a pro-active interview, should be limited to only two or three main points.
[1663] And the answer to the questioner isn't, isn't an arcane as you might think it is.
[1664] ... Basically the journalist has a fairly simple rule of thumb.
[1665] They want to find out as much as possible about the issues in a short time.
[1666] And I think it was Kipling who said he had six serving maids ... Who, What, Where, Why, When and How.
[1667] And if you ask those questions of any issue you establish pretty quickly every interesting aspect of the story.
[1668] Now obviously there isn't time for six questions, so the journalist will distil it down.
[1669] But there are basic things that the journalist will want to know about a story that you can work out in advance.
[1670] If you had a health scare in your area, they'll want to know how severe it was, who it affected, and what you're doing about it.
[1671] That's basically it.
[1672] So you can work out in advance the question there is, and try and condense down, prepare your answers mentally, prepare for those question areas, and condense down your arguments to the point where you can put them across succinctly.
f (PS62N) [1673] When it comes to thinking about the questions before, another — the time between you agree to do the interview and actually doing it, is your preparation time.
[1674] It's not something just to be pushed to one side, and, ‘Oh, yes, he's coming at eleven o'clock, so I'll think about it at five to eleven.’
[1675] I would advise you also to think of ‘What is the worst possible question I could be asked about this?’
[1676] What is the most embarrassing question?
[1677] What would really put me on the spot, and how will I cope with it?
[1678] Because the chances are that because you know more about the subject than the general reporter, to whom — this may be to you the most important part of the day, [...] most important story of your day, to him it might be only one of four, five or six that they're doing.
[1679] If you prepare an answer that you're confident about to the worst possible question, the chances are they won't even answer it, ... ask it, and you'll feel much better.
[1680] Because you know more about the story than they do.
[1681] But if, by any chance, the reporter's wife or husband also happens to be an Environmental Health Officer somewhere else, and happens to know that he or she is going off to do an interview, and say, ‘Hey.
[1682] That Council are bloody useless on this.
[1683] Why don't you ask them so and so?’ [laugh]
f (PS62N) [1684] ‘Why have they cut that money?’
[1685] If you can have an answer to that, so that if you do get zapped with the worst possible question, you have a confident answer to it, then all the other questions will be plain sailing.
[1686] It's our job anyway.
[1687] Hm.
[1688] That's our job, so you have to appreciate that that's the job of a journalist, to enquire what is the, the worst and the best aspects of any, of any job, of any, of any interview, ... and so you really have to do it, and in the sense that you have to ... if you, you probably have to go back to square one and do maximum research on what you're being asked about, so, therefore you have more confidence in precising down what your answer is.
[1689] I find that the, the people who waffle the most are the people who know least.
b (PS62H) [1690] Talking of waffling, if I could just shift ground slightly to another issue, it's been touched on already, and that is of jargon.
[1691] It's very easy, we all use jargon, we use jargon in the newsroom, if you ever heard a conversation at Radio Cambridgeshire you wouldn't understand a word of it.
[1692] I'm not sure we do half the time.
[1693] But ... different technologies, different areas of interest, develop their own language.
[1694] Do bear in mind that what is common currency in your department will mean nothing to anybody else.
[1695] And I'd go further than that.
[1696] I'd distinguish between different sorts of jargon.
[1697] There's word jargon, as we had an example of, with the, the noise expert, where you actually use words that people don't understand.
[1698] But there's also conceptual jargon, where you might go halfway to addressing the issue, but a very complicated concept, with various complications to the argument that you're trying to put across.
[1699] It's no good just using simple words to describe each step in that argument, if the whole argument gets so convoluted by the time you finish the listener thought, ‘Well, I understood the bits, but I didn't understand the whole.’
[1700] And then finally, there's also a temptation if, as we are on the B B C part of a large corporation, and, and you are as well, ... your various councils, there is a temptation to get into procedural jargon.
[1701] That's where if, say the journalist say, ‘Well, what are you doing about this problem?’
[1702] If you say, ‘Well, of course, yes, I can easily explain that, but basically we'll transfer the ... the, the ... handling of the enquiry to A Department, which of course has responsibility to B, but B can't do that without C,’ you have to know in your own organization that that's the way the procedure works, but it will mean nothing to the listener.
[1703] So keep things simple, and keep things brief, and keep them to the point.
f (PS62N) [1704] John, talking about jargon, on this story, can you do me a package for New Day, we'll have a head-to-head for drive time, voicer for C A T O, and ... don't forget the copy cover.
b (PS62H) [1705] okay You always were demanding.
f (PS62N) [1706] But I mean basically, that means that for the, tomorrow morning's breakfast programme, I want a package including lots of different views, but for drive time which is five till six in the evening, I just want a straightforward, two minute head-to-head, one-to-one interview ... but for lunchtime which is C A T O, which is Cambridgeshire at One, which is our lunchtime programme, ... I'd like you to put all the views into a script of about forty seconds, and don't forget, for the two o'clock bulletin, which is a very short one, I'd just like three sentences of copy which sums up the story.
b (PS62H) [1707] Do you want me to rot it and pump down G N S to W A T O? [laugh]
f (PS62N) [1708] Yes.
[1709] He's going to rot it, which means he's going to record it off transmission, and then pump it down, send it down to the General News Service in London for consideration by W A T O which is World At One.
[1710] So, we've got
b (PS62H) [1711] We just have all sorts of jargon
f (PS62N) [1712] We've got just as much jargon as you have.
[1713] It's rubbish, isn't it?
[1714] Outside its context of the newsroom it's rubbish.
[1715] So it's the same, your jargon is rubbish outside the Yellow Pages?
[1716] That's a good bit of jargon, isn't it?
[1717] You know.
[1718] Yellow Pages means nothing.
[1719] But unfortunately, when I did an interview with you, it is possible that you might actually refer to an article in the Yellow Pages.
g (PS62P) [1720] No, no. [laugh]
f (PS62N) [1721] Or perhaps not.
b (PS62H) [1722] But those, those Environmental Health Officers who go into committee, and we know very well that you have to put your argument in a particular way or put your point a particular way, in which you want to convince people.
[1723] But the, I ring up local government offices, and that's the way they would speak to me, and immediately I say to myself, ‘Christ, that would be the worst person to be interviewed on local radio.’
[1724] Because, what you're going back to, just reemphasizing the point earlier, you're speaking one-to-one, you're not trying to convince a, a group of, of ... , of councillors, you're trying to actually convey a message and, yes, you're trying to convince, but you're actually trying to convey a message doing one-to-one interview, across to people who know nothing about it, whereas councillors purport to know something about it.
f (PS62N) [1725] Imagine that you have just come home from your hard day being an Environmental Health Officer, and your neighbour, who happens to be a builder or bookmaker or something, invites you down to the pub, and over a pint he says, ‘I heard something on the radio about some story.
[1726] What's it about?
[1727] Well, how [...] is it?
[1728] You know, is it serious?’
[1729] Those are the sort of questions that the radio interviewer is asking you on behalf of the, the great British public.
[1730] And your answers should be couched in the terms that you would answer somebody in the pub, in that you're giving them the information, you're giving it to them in a clean way.
[1731] All the crap of jargon, all the crap of councilspeak, has been cleared away.
[1732] And without deviating from truth or accuracy, you are telling it the way — and it is possible to do it, without deviating from truth and accuracy — because most of the trappings of the crap are ones that we impose upon ourselves.
[1733] It's our jargon that we use in the newsroom, it's your jargon that you use, it's your way of getting things through council committees.
[1734] Well, you don't need all that, if you're talking to the public, you're telling what are basically the facts, and, if asked for your opinion on them, you then decide whether to give your opinion or to say, ‘Well, no, that's beyond, that's beyond my brief.’
[1735] Never be afraid to say, ‘No’.
[1736] One of the tricks that happens, and it can happen, it's not really done deliberately, but it's, the reporter wanting to know how you feel about something.
[1737] So you've done an interview and the question is, ‘Well, yes but, what do you feel about this, this food outbreak?
[1738] How do you feel?’
[1739] Perhaps you'd better be a bit careful.
[1740] ‘Am I there to speak on behalf of the council?
[1741] Am I there to speak on behalf of me?
[1742] Am I being interviewed as this council's Environmental Health Officer, or am I being interviewed as a representative of the institution of Environmental Health Officers?’
[1743] Your answer may be different.
[1744] Find out the context.
bs (PS62L) [1745] The point I made to half, and now I'll make it again to the whole, yesterday, was that it's very important to, to define your roles in a particular thing.
[1746] ‘Well, speaking personally, I think it's so and so, but I'm not, obviously, speaking on behalf of the Council.’
[1747] Now, I don't, the story I quoted was I, I interviewed Lord Marshall on the local radio thing many years ago, and I asked him about nuclear fusion.
[1748] Is it going to happen?
[1749] And he said, ‘Well, the Government policy is it's worth putting money in.
[1750] The Atomic Energy policy is it's going to take about fifty years.
[1751] My personal view is, they're being optimistic and I'm not sure it will ever happen.’
[1752] And in a sense, he actually very neatly defined several different points ... without getting his knickers in a twist, and wearing different hats it would be so easy to come out with a muddled thing which would end up by being him feeling uncomfortable but him also being part of the Government and the Atomic Energy Authority.
[1753] If these are totally incompatible he may have to resign of course, but then [laugh]
bs (PS62L) [1754] It's a good way of doing it, just saying, ‘Well, my personal view is of course this is a tragedy.
[1755] The Council I hope will do something about it, but that's up to the Council, I don't have the authority to do that.’
[1756] That, that's, that's an understandable
f (PS62N) [1757] But if you prevaricate and say, ‘I can't comment on this because I'm an officer of the Council,’ then they think, ‘Oh, God, you know, what sort of person am I talking to?’and you lose all your empathy and all the sympathy of the listeners, which is what you're after.
Unknown speaker (KRPPSUNK) [1758] Provided you didn't get away with, you, you know your first example's okay, but your second example where you said, ‘Well, I hope the Council some good , I haven't the authority,’ that's not such a good example, because, to the listener
bs (PS62L) [1759] No, in, in a
Unknown speaker (KRPPSUNK) [1760] [people talking] you are the Council.
bs (PS62L) [1761] Yes.
[1762] If it were pre-recorded
Unknown speaker (KRPPSUNK) [1763] I thought the example was good about the, the guy coming out It's happened to me, I'm not recording most of the programme
bs (PS62L) [1764] Yes.
[1765] Yes.
[1766] What's it about?
Unknown speaker (KRPPSUNK) [1767] It, it was a quite loony lot , but it highlighted to me that, when I speak on radio, I'm representing not only the Council, the institute and the profession and all that, I never actually am representing me, and that's the, that's [...]
bs (PS62L) [1768] When, when you're speaking on radio, are you, are you representing all those organizations at the same time?
[1769] If you're, if you're, if you're a Council employee, and you're being interviewed in your role as a Council employee, then surely you're only representing the Council.
Unknown speaker (KRPPSUNK) [1770] Well, the thing, to me [...] environmental health, and I, and I'm from the Environmental Health Services,
bs (PS62L) [1771] mhm
Unknown speaker (KRPPSUNK) [1772] clearly ... all those things are involved.
bs (PS62L) [1773] No, no, I wouldn't, I wouldn't, I wouldn't agree there, because, because the institution may well have policy which is at variance with your council's policy.
[1774] I'm sure there must be things that your institution would like your council to be doing but which your council isn't doing.
[1775] So I would venture to suggest that if I'm interviewing you as the Environmental Health Officer for a particular council on a council matter, then I would expect you to only speak on behalf of the council — unless I asked you whether your professional body was happy with your council's policy.
[1776] If I was interviewing you as an, as a member of the institution as a, a local spokesman
Unknown speaker (KRPPSUNK) [1777] Can I interrupt there?
bs (PS62L) [1778] Yes.
Unknown speaker (KRPPSUNK) [1779] That wasn't really the issue I was making.
[1780] The issue, the point I'm trying to make is that in talking for all of the bodies, whether I'm talking about for the council or whether I'm talking about them at the same time or separately, one thing I'm not doing is talking [...] from my point of view.
bs (PS62L) [1781] Yes.
Unknown speaker (KRPPSUNK) [1782] That's what came through in that example
bs (PS62L) [1783] So if you were asked, if you were asked, ‘What is your point of view?’ what would you say?
Unknown speaker (KRPPSUNK) [1784] Sometimes my views are at variance with the institution
bs (PS62L) [1785] Yes.
Unknown speaker (KRPPSUNK) [1786] Many times! [laugh]
bs (PS62L) [1787] okay, okay So supposing, supposing I did an interview with you, the, the idea about the pub talk is I'm trying to get you to use the language as if you were talking to a mate.
[1788] okay So what if you ask you in an interview, ‘How do you feel about this personally?’
[1789] What would you say?
Unknown speaker (KRPPSUNK) [1790] Obviously it would depend on the issue, I mean, I'm, I'm trying to sort of help here.
bs (PS62L) [1791] Yes, yes.
[1792] Well, no I'm trying to help you because bear in mind that if you are interviewed, that is a possible question.
[1793] So you really ought to give it some thought.
[1794] How would I respond?
Unknown speaker (KRPPSUNK) [1795] How can I forecast how I'd respond, if there's no indication what the subject matter is?
[1796] It's difficult
bs (PS62L) [1797] Well, you could, no you can ask yourself, you can ask yourself, because you've said to me very clearly that you do not regard yourself as ever speaking for yourself, surely you can now think, would I ever want to answer a question like that?
[1798] Never mind what the issue is.
f (PS62N) [1799] I mean for, for example, that, let me give an, I mean you can, you can compromise your decision on radio.
[1800] I mean, you can say for example that the Government didn't bring in ... registration, ... licensing of food premises, only brought in a register.
[1801] Now you may not agree with that, ... but nevertheless I will say, ‘Do you think it's a good thing?’ and you can say, ‘Well, it's a step in the right direction, I'm encouraged by it.’
[1802] Do you know what I mean?
[1803] You, you, you, you ... or you can say something else. [laugh] [people talking]
Unknown speaker (KRPPSUNK) [1804] To, to, to my friend who'd bought me a, you know, a pint of beer I would have said, ‘We wanted, I wanted, not only ... annual licensing but also linked to training and food handling, otherwise it doesn't mean anything.’
f (PS62N) [1805] Well, why [people talking] on the radio interview?
bs (PS62L) [1806] Why can't you say it in an interview then, if you're asked that question?
Unknown speaker (KRPPSUNK) [1807] Because the Minister might be listening?
f (PS62N) [1808] So what? [laugh]
f (PS62N) [1809] But who, who pays your salary?
[1810] Who pays your salary?
Unknown speaker (KRPPSUNK) [1811] That's nothing, I probably would say that [...] it's not contentious, while it's Institution policy, and
f (PS62N) [1812] That's right.
Unknown speaker (KRPPSUNK) [...]
f (PS62N) [1813] But at least you
Unknown speaker (KRPPSUNK) [1814] I wouldn't
f (PS62N) [1815] Yes.
Unknown speaker (KRPPSUNK) [1816] [...] with my council.
f (PS62N) [1817] No.
[1818] You've now started thinking about it, because you initially said, ‘I never speak for myself,’ and now you're thinking, ‘Ah, perhaps I can.’
[1819] Yes.
[1820] Can
nf (PS62K) [1821] [...] in a lot of cases you'll just fog the issue if [...] say ‘How do you feel about it?’
[1822] What I've done [...] these interviews [...] knowing about your subject, I don't have to agree my council's policy, but I [...] and I understand how people feel upset about X, so that's trying to get the message across, you know people are upset, you can understand they're upset, but you're not actually compromising yourself or, because you're being interviewed as the council spokesman, you're not compromising the position of the council. [...]
f (PS62N) [1823] Right after the ground rules are laid down by the station when you go in they say, ‘What is your title?’ and ... if I'm interviewed on behalf of the branch P R O I say that, if I'm ... an officer of Broadham District Council I say that, so the ground rules are there as to who you're speaking for when the interview starts.
bs (PS62L) [1824] Fair enough.
bs (PS62L) [1825] Yes.
ro (PS62M) [1826] Basically, just let me ask you one or two questions about your service.
[1827] I think, naturally, you'd, you would tend to [...] anyway?
bs (PS62L) [1828] Well, that's, that's up to you, but the, what, the point I'm trying to make is that I think it's important that you actually consider that before the interview is, is ever, ever takes place, because otherwise you could be caught very flat-footed.
lf (PS62R) [1829] There are a number of, sort of a dictionary of useful phrases, I mean you actually used one or two just now, and one of the things that we suggest is that people when they're not under the pressure of being in the studio, which after all for them is alien territory, that they should actually have one or two of these useful phrases which do ... cover a, a multitude of embarrassing situations, if you want to put it that away.
[1830] And they are quite useful to have ... in your locker.
bs (PS62L) [1831] Yes.
[1832] One very good one is on an ongoing story, ‘At this stage, I haven't really gathered enough information to make a positive comment.’
[1833] You know, now that is, that is when somebody is trying to take you further, there's, there's, there's the food, there's been a food, I don't know, food, food poisoning outbreak in a well-known city restaurant or something like that, ... there's thirty people in hospital, a couple are pretty serious, ... there's a general flap on because it's the height of the tourist season in Cambridge, ... and you've been called in.
[1834] Now obviously, it is the reporter's job, and quite legitimate, to press you as far as he or she can, to find out as much about the story.
[1835] But we all know that stories, you know, people have got to be out there at the scene taking samples.
[1836] This might be going on.
[1837] Never be ashamed to say, ‘Information is still coming in.
[1838] We don't want to make any further comment until we've got all the facts at our disposal, because we don't want to cause any unnecessary problems for people.
[1839] It's, it's an ongoing situation.’
b (PS62H) [1840] Yes.
[1841] Taking you back to the poly manager , if somebody says, somebody says to you, ‘Well what are you doing about it?’ you say, ‘I don't know at the moment, haven't got enough facts.’
[1842] And if you just put it in a slightly more formal way on radio, that's what you're doing is, you're not shifting the buck, you're answering the question, you're just, you're giving yourself a bit of leeway.
f (PS62N) [1843] Is there a tendency for you as a journalist, though, to go and look for information in other sources if you possibly can, to do
bs (PS62L) [1844] Oh yes.
[1845] Oh yes, of course.
f (PS62N) [1846] a story.
[1847] If we're not involved in, in you getting hold of that picture then, the balance is pretty well
bs (PS62L) [1848] Never, never, never sort of, never get so carried away with your own position that you think that you are the only source and the fount of all wisdom on, on any particular story.
[1849] You're not.
[1850] ... Because we may well have somebody down at the scene, who's in actually fact seen four blokes in white suits take away six plastic sacks.
lf (PS62R) [laugh]
bs (PS62L) [1851] You know.
[1852] Now, if we say to you, ‘We understand a vast quantity of samples have been taken away from the scene,’ now, if you don't know that, then should you know it?
[1853] If you do know it, then, should you admit it, because if we've seen it happen, we'll report it as fact, because we saw it happen.
[1854] You know, I, I have been put in that situation before, when I've actually seen, you know, and most reporters are working secondhand, but, you know, I have been in the position where I've actually seen, ... part of a police operation take place, mainly because I'd got stopped coming out on the Huntingdon Road after the, the Mill Road Post Office was, was knocked over a year or so ago.
[1855] And I actually got stopped in the checks.
[1856] I got home, I phoned up the police, and they say, ‘Oh, no, we don't know anything about any road blocks.’ [laugh]
lf (PS62R) [1857] Yes, just came through one.
bs (PS62L) [1858] You know, and my story the following morning included road blocks.
[1859] And the police said, ‘Where'd you get this bit about the road blocks?’
[1860] I said, ‘I've got stopped in it.’
[1861] So, you know, there are alternative sources.
f (PS62N) [1862] Here's an example happened to me.
[1863] I was in a wine bar the other day and ... it was just before the opening of Stanstead, a few weeks before, and I met a chap in there who worked in the airport and we were just in conversation and he said, asked him what he did, and he said, ‘I'm basically on temporary contract preparing for the Queen coming to open the airport.’
[1864] And I said, ‘Oh, what's that involve?’
[1865] And he said, ‘Well, it's amazing, you know, they got to build her a, a special khazi that they're going to knock down afterwards.
[1866] So I mean put all this effort in the building and [...] for the Queen they knock it down afterwards.’
[1867] So I phoned up the Stanstead ... P R O the next morning and said ... ‘ [...] confirm that the Queen is coming to open the airport?’ and he said, ‘Well, ... we don't know, we haven't a clue who's coming to open the airport, yet.
[1868] We don't know.’
[1869] And I said, ‘Well why was Queen's [...] Equerry here two days ago then checking the place out?’
[1870] Long silence.
[1871] ‘Ah.’
[1872] So that's just illustrating Gillian's point is that, information can come from a number of sources.
lf (PS62R) [1873] There's always somebody who knows, isn't there?
f (PS62N) [1874] Oh yes.
lf (PS62R) [1875] Coffee is on its way, we're reliably informed, it's
f (PS62N) [1876] From which city? [laugh]
lf (PS62R) [1877] Perhaps Luton, will it be hot when it gets here?
[1878] I'm sorry, this is something outside our control.
[1879] I have no comments to make at this stage.
f (PS62N) [1880] Yes, it's being tested first. [people talking]
lf (PS62R) [1881] I have initiated, I have already initiated a full inquiry.
g (PS62P) [1882] Yes.
lf (PS62R) [1883] We were told yesterday that ‘No comment’ means ‘Guilty as hell’, but I mean you were suggesting
f (PS62N) [1884] No, I,
bs (PS62L) [1885] No, No.
f (PS62N) [1886] Don't say ‘No comment.’
b (PS62H) [1887] ‘No comment’ with a very good reason why.
f (PS62N) [1888] Yes, yes, ‘No comment because we're still collecting information, because we've got a lot of information already in, but we've got to assess it because we don't want to give out any false, you know false new.’
[1889] ... ‘No comment because it's got to be seen by the boss first because we're taking this very seriously.’
[1890] So ‘No comment’ and explain why, and the promise of something later.
Unknown speaker (KRPPSUNK) [1891] Something that came up yesterday was [...] interview you had, and Graham to make the comment, and he, he was trying to make the point that he, what he said, what he recommended, would have to be taken up by the council, and actually [...] by the council when it happened.
[1892] And it looked like he was [...] of bureaucracy, but what he was trying to [...] perfectly valid point, that he couldn't actually make the final decision.
f (PS62N) [1893] Yes.
[1894] Well, ... , ‘The decision isn't mine, my role is to make recommendations and it's a democratically elected council, it's up the councillors to decide final policy, and then it's up for, up to me to carry it out.’
[1895] Doesn't, doesn't sound like prevarication to me.
[1896] Sounds, sounds all right.
[1897] It's explaining the system.
[1898] It's explaining that this is what the recommendation is, however, I'm not a dictator, I'm put there by you voters, your representatives have got to decide.
Unknown speaker (KRPPSUNK) [1899] Yes, it sounds like [people talking]
f (PS62N) [1900] Sounds more like Patrick Missile to me. [people talking]
bs (PS62L) [1901] There are promising off-stage noises, heading in the right direction, if it's not a missile it's coffee as just been pointed out.
[1902] Let's have some coffee, come back here in about fifteen minutes or thereabouts. [people talking]
lf (PS62R) [1903] [laugh] I don't think I, I don't think I want [people talking] It's fantastic.
[1904] I mean, from our point of view, it's very interesting to hear you [people talking] to hear what we say like in theory, confirmed, I mean, I know [people talking]