Monday, July 04, 2011

Ed Milliband - a media failure? Not on this evidence

There's been a lot of social media chatter about his BBC interview, where Ed Milliband gives almost exactly the same response to a series of questions. On the face of it, he appears to have lost the plot. But it isn't what it appears to be.

I'm in no doubt that Ed Milliband believed, and may even have been told, that this was an exercise to capture a sound bite. It's a common technique these days, where short clips from talking heads are used to compile a news package. It's an essential technique that I teach to my media clients. It has no resemblance to an as-live discussion, and is designed to ensure that the best possible clip is used.

Here's the evidence:

1) The interviewer is never in shot. There are no "noddies" or over-the-shoulder shots, which would have been edited in to a normal discussion.

2) The interviewer is not identified, and I don't recognise the voice. This suggests that a junior reporter was sent to capture a sound bite, and that his questions were not intended to be broadcast.

3) The questions are asked in a laconic, or even lazy style, suggesting that they were not meant to be heard.

4) Ed Milliband may not be the sharpest knife, even in the Milliband drawer, but he's bright enough to know how to vary his answers in a discussion.

5) Mr Milliband is delivering "complete" answers, by including the point of the question. For me, this is the key evidence, since that is exactly how to deliver a stand-alone sound bite.

In short, the interview has been presented as something it was not. It was probably an editorial mistake. I hope that's all.

Poor Ed Milliband has been castigated for something which is not what it has been portrayed as. Like him or not, it's simply unfair.

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