Friday, July 01, 2016

The reporter on the spot seems to know slightly less than we do

I have the 24 hour news channels on in the background at the moment. I have Twitter on in the foreground.

It feels to me as if the old news standby, the man on the spot, knows less and less. That's mainly because he's the man on the spot.

If he's the man on the spot, struggling for a place to set up his cameras, putting all his effort into getting people to agree to being interviewed, haggling with his masters back in the studio about when they're going to come to him, fiddling with his earpiece and straightening his tie, he misses the story, which is off and running on social media like a glinting fish and will have scarpered by the time he's found the next place to park his van and unpack his equipment.

Yesterday morning I felt more informed than the man on the spot. Robert Peston had tweeted mid-morning that Boris Johnson may have been putting back his press conference, which suggested something was up. Then Matthew Parris was on Five Live. When asked what he thought Boris was going to announce he said, with the assurance of an old pol, "oh, this Gove announcement has finished him."

 As soon as he'd said that the press conference started. Ten minutes later we found out how right he had been. The man on the spot looked shocked. I felt quite smug.


  1. Peston heard/tweeted about Boris throwing the hat in first, I think?

  2. I seem to remember the satire show 'Broken News' having the man in the field being briefed by people in the studio so that he could give a sensible response to questions he was about to be asked!

  3. Not new I'm afraid. 'Today' had some chap on the end of a satellite link in Gulf War I, March 1991. He was asked about some helicopter incident where he was in Kuwait and said bluntly "You're telling me this, it's the first I've heard of it".