And here is the news. Forget Brexit, Merkel, Catalonia. Today’s top story is BBC Political Editor Laura Kuenssberg Spotted with a Burly Companion in Brighton. Well we’ve all done that. But this time the man with her has been identified as a former British soldier who describes himself as a media security adviser. Cue outrage in the twittersphere along the lines of “How dare they spend our licence fee on this??” “Is this a neo-liberal ploy to demean Labour?” And, slightly sinister, “No dispute that Laura Kuenssberg is biased but does she really need a bodyguard?” To which my immediate answer is Yes there certainly is dispute and Yes she certainly does need one.
How can people get journalism so wrong? People who have never been journalists don’t understand that, unlike them, she doesn’t have a dog in the fight. Let me put down in print what I always say to my trainees in media training session. They may not like to hear this but it’s true. As interviewees, journalists couldn’t care less about you, and shouldn’t. They have no interest in your well-being or your problems. They only care about The Story. And whether you can be held to account to put your side of the story as strongly as possible. Interviewers are not here to win an argument, they are here to challenge you, so that your response is as strong and as credible as possible.
Kuenssberg’s ever-watchful companion might not actually be needed for any physical protection – though the other top story of the day is the rise in acid attacks and why there are more bottles of drain unblocker on the shelves of hardware stores than there are actual drains in Britain – he is there to put a screen around the cybertrolls who don’t understand what journalists do, so that she can get on with the job.