I don’t subscribe to the view that all politicians are bad, but in these febrile times, when so much is at stake, some of them will lie, obfuscate, threaten and do virtually anything to avoid being held to account.
We need principled politicians to oppose them and good journalists to expose them.
When describing the skill-sets needed for modern journalism, much is often made of multi-media production capabilities; the ability to take photographs, shoot video, record podcasts, and master all the various social media channels.
All good stuff no doubt, but I would suggest when recruiting your next journalist, to also look out for the following:
- An interest in history: for instance, do they know when the Good Friday Agreement was, its significance and its key pillars?
- Head for figures: can they do the maths on billions of pounds’ worth of spending pledges in their head and spot any double-counting?
- A memory like an elephant: can they spot the lie simply because they can remember that what the politician said previously is completely at odds with what they’re saying now?
- Laser focus: when politicians try to distract, can they keep their eye on the key questions that need answering?
- Bravery: with ‘the media’ now a term of spittle-flecked invective, have they got the guts to face down a braying mob to ask the tough questions?
- Passion for the truth and pride in the press’ historical role in uncovering it: do their heroes include Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein?
If you find someone who ticks most of these boxes, then hire them. You might even want to consider paying them well.