But, during all the fuss that was being made about this on Twitter, I noticed an account of how it was conducted by one of the hacks involved.
There is an etiquette involved in pooling, which everyone understands. Ask the obvious question, and get the obvious answer. Don’t try to be too clever or esoteric, either with your questioning or your camerawork. Make sure the material is usable by everyone (reporters: stay out of shot) and relay it as soon as the interview is done.This is, quite simply an open shameless admission from a named journalist, of churnalism along with a statement that the whole thing is endemic. Any organisation that uses pooled interviews of this kind is, by definition, deserting their duty.
The thing is, to anyone who has worked around politics in the last twenty years or so, this is an open secret. It’s one that requires a variation of what Norm calls Mbunderstanding from anyone who has to demonstrate empathy to political reporters. As a willingness to do this is the essential pre-condition to working in political communications, we can probably assume that every successful political press officer, SpAd, journalist and elected politician connives in it with impunity. Who loses (apart from all the people that a functioning press are supposed look after)?
So, all political communications have to be fatally compromised because of the need of media owners to maximise efficiency.
The next time a journalist uses the term ‘fourth estate’, could you punch them in the face for me? Kthxbai!