Friday, July 13, 2007

BBC Journalists

I have noticed that BBC journalists very rarely remove their shoes when visiting houses to film and conduct interviews. I appreciate that this is the UK, where most people do not require shoes-off as a rule, but I think it is a nice gesture to take them off without being asked if the people living in the house are shoe-less.

I was just watching BBC News 24 and a journalist visited the mobile home of a man whose house had been flooded. She kept her shoes on, even though the ground outside must surely have been filthy after the flooding.

I get the impression that a lot of BBC journalists hate taking off their shoes. I recall a BBC journalist visited a house where she was asked to remove her shoes. She did so, but the next time she was filmed in that house, her shoes were back on.


Jim Wellington said...

Well, that's because it's a power issue, isn't it? Journalists have considerable power and their clothes are a significant part of that.

The BBC journalist shows up in his Saville Row navy blue pinstriped suit, Hermes silk tie with matching pocket square, starched white shirt, cufflinks and expsensive haircut.

Now look at his his feet, and you find a pair of immaculately shined black leather bespoke Loeb brogues and black silk socks.

Now, all of that is part of the power image. If you take away ANY part of this - the power starts to crumble.

Let's put a face on this. Alastair Yates, for example, or Mike Embley. If you force these dapper, dignified journalists to take off those beautiful shoes (and those Loeb shoes are beautiful in their own way) and fancy socks and leave them vacant in the corner and proceed in their bare feet, you are making them feel ridiculous.

The contrast with the tailored suits and ties only add to that sense of absurdity. How can they take themselves seriously if their socks are across the room, rolled up in their bench-made shoes?

Of course, the answer might be that this power is just an illusion anyway - but I have to admist that the idea of a barefoot Alistair Yates is somewaht funny.

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Jim, thanks for visiting and for your comment.

The journalist I saw on the t.v. today was actually wearing casual clothes and probably trainers (sneakers).

But yes, I see your point.

Nevertheless, you try telling a Japanese executive he cannot look smart in socks or slippers.

Jim Wellington said...

Well, that's a fair point. We were just talking about this at work so it's interesting. The Japanese custom seems to present a reasonable alternative, and the power issue would not come up because there is a history of shoe removal.

And of course the casual clothes make a difference.

I remember an American journalist - very well dressed in a suit and tie - politely but firmly refusing to take his shoes off when he entered the home of an amateur "talk show host" who would interview people in his living room. It started as a joke, but the host insisted that it was the custom because of the expensive rugs, and it became awkward. The host finally walked over and pulled the shoes right off his feet. He even had to untie them first, so it was even more awkward. He then threated to take his dress socks away, too - but backed down.

That is where the idea of the power issue came in. They were really arguing about who was in control. The journalist's demeanor changed after that - much more compliant.

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Jim, thanks for sharing that story.

I think one must be very careful not to be obnoxious about wanting shoes off.

If somebody refused to remove their shoes, it would be a moment of exreme social awakwardness. One must try very hard to be gracious. If they were a tradesman, I suppose one could refuse to let them in, but with a friend or relative it would awakward. One would certainly be under no obligation ro invite them again.