Last week, we welcomed Giles Winn, Interviews Editor of Sky News, to Pagefield for the latest instalment of our Meet the Editor series.
After four years producing Murnaghan, Sky’s flagship current affairs and politics show, Giles is now Interviews Editor at Sky News. This means he is charged with finding and coordinating the best and most relevant guests and commentators for the different Sky News programmes.
He shared his experience and insights with Pagefield’s clients and friends. Here are five things we learnt:
With the rise of social media and an increasingly ‘multi-channel’ world there has been speculation for years that traditional news channels and shows would suffer. This has proved to be a premature prediction, with audiences appreciating multiple platforms, including television, to get their news fix. News channels see huge peaks at ‘big-news’ moments – such as celebrity deaths or terrorist attacks – where people will turn to TV to follow the story in real time. The trick to keeping the viewing figures up at other times is stimulating discussion and debate: it’s no coincidence that Fox News is one of the few news channels in the English speaking world to make a profit.
Younger audiences in particular engage with online content. The key is to make it short, sharp and shareable. Whereas in the past online was often used as a space to put extended footage that wouldn’t fit in a bulletin, online content is now used to pick out highlights and draw people in.
Traditionally politicians are some of the more regular guests on interview shows. The huge reach of TV makes it a great tool for the Government and opposition to get their messages out there, with their ‘customer base’ much bigger than most businesses. They also tend to be less risk-averse – or at least more immune to criticism – than businesspeople. The end of the Coalition however, has meant fewer Government interviews because there are no longer the competing factions inherent in a coalition trying to ‘out-do’ the other.
Few people in the business world are natural media performers in the mould of Justin King, Martin Sorrell or Stuart Rose, which makes many reticent to try TV. This can in part be explained by occasions where businesses have been ‘ambushed’ with questions unrelated to the news story they came to talk about, denying them any time or opportunity to get their messages across. News channels need to build the trust of businesses, with the quid-pro-quo that if you have a platform for your message, you may have to answer some difficult questions.
Sky News has some seriously big names on its books across news, business and politics – Kay Burley, Adam Boulton, Dermot Murnaghan, Eamonn Holmes and Ian King to name a few – and it’s Giles’ job to make sure they are provided with the best possible interviewees. As ITV invests in the likes of Robert Peston and goes head-to-head with BBC’s News at Ten with the energetic Tom Bradby, surely viewers and political news junkies are in for a treat as stories get sharper and standards are raised.