For an illustration of how not to react when ‘doorstepped’ by a reporter and a cameraman, this is a classic.
This morning Sky News intercepted Sarah Teather, the Lib Dem education minister in the coalition government, to put a fairly straightforward question to her, namely why she had agreed to vote for an increase in tuition fees, despite a pre-election pledge to oppose any rise. It’s a question millions of voters would want to put to her and is therefore one on which Sky News was perfectly justified to doorstep her.
The manner in which Ms. Teather reacted to the doorstep only served to reinforce the impression that many voters will have about Lib Dem policy on tuition fees – that the party is in disarray, has reneged on its election promises, knows it and is too scared to admit as much to the electorate.
We would advise an alternative way of handling such a situation. Rather than try to scuttle away furtively, the person doorstepped is far better off stopping and at least saying something to the reporter. This doesn’t have to be long; an answer to one or two questions would suffice – enough to deprive the reporter or the news station of the opportunity to report that “XXX was today ducking all questions on YYY.”
This was particularly the case this morning as, according to reports, the Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg had appeared to be getting a handle on the tuition fees row that’s undermined his party’s standing. Surely Ms. Teather could have spoken – albeit briefly – about the voting agreement reached by Lib Dem ministers. Instead of which she told the Sky reporter to “go away”, leaving the impression in the eyes of millions of viewers that this is a Lib Dem agreement that dare not speak its name.
Mind you, Ms. Teather did come up with an innovative way of handling a doorstep – placing iPhone headphones in her ears so as to drown out the reporter’s questions. Not seen that one before.
What was she listening to – “Born to Run”, “Run, baby, Run”?