Monday, February 04, 2013

"An honest tale speeds best, being plainly told" (Richard III, Shakespeare)

It's a pity that Leicester University researchers didn't heed this blog's title, which was dialogue given by Shakespeare to Queen Elizabeth in his play Richard III (Act 4, Scene 4). If they had thought about things in more detail, they may have realised that keeping the assembled hacks at a press conference in suspense about the skeleton found under a Leicester car park may have been a mistake. There had been much excitement when the skeleton was found, with speculation that it was that of the last Plantaganet king of England. The press conference was the "reveal", but the researchers were coy to begin with, planning a big announcement as the event concluded.

Alas, academics aren't aware of the pressure of 24-hour news, and the hierarchy that naturally occurs as stories break. Before they could say "Richard Crookback", a fair proportion of the assembled media had headed for the door. The reason was that their iPhones had buzzed with the news that former Cabinet minister Chris Huhne had pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice, which is a far bigger honeypot for media bees than even a rediscovered royal. 

Mr Huhne, you may recall, had apparently persuaded his former wife to pretend she was driving his car when he was caught for speeding on the M11 between Stansted Airport and London. After ten years of claim and counter-claim, he's finally admitted his  guilt, and could even go to prison as a result.

Back to King Richard III. What's the message? If you've got news to share, don't tease the media with it. Tell them the big headline to grab their interest, and then talk in more detail.

As for Mr Huhne, archaeologists are now speculating that the remains of his career are buried under the M11 in Essex.

By the way, many thanks to my good pal Andy Lopata for alerting me to this story.

1 comment:

Alan Stevens said...

Claire,

Thanks for your great response. Much appreciated.