Britain is turning to the White House for inspiration from the press briefing


On Wednesday, the UK Prime Minister gave a new job list: a spokesperson, like the White House press secretary, faced a new daily television press briefing. The briefing, which is expected to begin in October, is a major shakeup for traditional off-camera twice-daily dacoit London journalists.

“You will represent the government and the prime minister on millions of viewers on a daily basis, on main broadcast channels and social media, and job postings are a chance to influence states and shape public opinion.”

Johnson wants to keep that going.

“We think people want direct engagement and stuff from us and that’s why we’re going to look at it,” Johnson told LBC Radio in early July. “I’ll pop up from time to time, I have no doubt.”

Briefing or performance?

But in Washington, where daily briefings have been reduced since 1995, there is a caveat on both sides of the podium: Turning on the cameras will make Downing Street more like a platform in Shakespeare’s Globe, which is part of the famous Temba River Located below is under the River Thames. .

And for some, this is a bad thing.

Mike McCarry, the Clinton White House press secretary who brought the briefing to television in 1995, is famous about his regrets over airing daily briefings in real-time on the network, telling CNN Business that they were “a reality TV event.” Have become.

He now thinks the briefing should be understood until its conclusion.

“This requires journalists to record briefings, test the information against other sources, perhaps extract comment from others, and then use a report that is actually new”.

This is unlikely to happen in today’s runaway world. Joe Lockhart, who took over as White House press secretary after Mac Laurie, told CNN Business that he expected the two sides in London to consider the practice a theater.

“Downing Street is likely to bring in a TV presenter (for the role of spokesperson) and I think journalists know only by human nature, many of them will see it as a way to watch it on TV Take care, “Lockhart said. “This will not be a performance per briefing but.”

On the podium journalists, Said Karen Bohn, USA Today’s Washington editor and former White House Correspondents’ Association president, said the Downing Street briefing saw CNN Business change the relationship between the press and the government. But she said it is “overdue”.

Bohan said, “Most public officials are more likely to be on camera, because they are talking to reporters without a camera. You are more likely to get ‘talking points’ and less clear responses.” “That said, the more access there is, the better it is for the press and the public.”

In London, a group of reporters covering Downing Street are known as lobbies and they attend two briefings with the Prime Minister’s spokesperson every day. The briefing is off-camera, and the spokesperson is always recognized as a “government spokesperson”. Even audio recording is not allowed.

And while many journalists in London are open to television briefings, some are wary of their colleagues – some of whom are already “prevalent peacocks,” as one political reporter for a British paper said – swept theaters. And increasing their enthusiasm. Arrogance by sparing efforts with government officials on national TV.

Former ITV anchor Alastair Stewart wrote in a column for The Spectator that in this way, at least the public would be able to see and hear the questioner and defendant in full view.

He wrote, “There is more merit in making free and open exchanges between the press and politicians, in the full glow of TV lights, than continuing the lobby’s semi-secret pantomime.”

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Others worry that turning on the cameras will actually reduce transparency. Thus far there are scarce details on the exact format of the briefing and who will be allowed to attend.

In a joint statement to keep an eye on the media Press Gazette, The Daily Mirror’s Pippa Crores, Parliamentary Press Gallery chair and Mail’s Jason Groves, chair of the lobby, said they do not want to see the new briefing “for example, as an excuse to reduce transparency Used “reducing the number of daily briefings, limiting questions people may ask them, or our on-the-record access to ministers.” “

suggestion

Reporters should be prepared for canned, soundbite for TV, to warn government spokespersons, Washington reporters.

Ben Feller, a former White House correspondent for the Associated Press and now a partner at communications strategy firm Mercury, told CNN Business that most journalists find the daily details useless with the press secretary to gather new information.

But journalists should still “dress appropriately, get to the point, not take penalties for answers, follow and act as you wish.”

As the elected spokesperson, he will likely become the second most recognizable figure, with the UK Government being the first Prime Minister.

According to several reports, Downing Street is looking specifically to bring someone with broadcast journalism experience into the role. But Lockhart warned Downing Street to “just hire a familiar face who could fake his way through it.”

The best person for the position, he said, “Presentation, politics and policy marry together,” Lockhart said.

McCary also advised that the spokesperson should stay out of policy deliberations and “fly over the wall”.

He said, “Playing an active role in decision making creates some reluctance for the ‘other side’ to share information with you and you always want to achieve the ‘best pitch’.”

Felder also warned that one of the first questions the spokesperson faced from the press is to define its purpose.

“Is their role to promote the government’s agenda and not respond to anything else, or is their goal both to promote the agenda and to be responsible and accountable to the press?” Feller said. “Whatever they hire, they should be ready to answer that question.”

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