I snapped the picture on the right as the BBC’s purple-faced, swollen cheeked, sweat-soaked, half-asleep North America editor Mark Mardell was doing a live piece to camera on the Six O’Clock News last night.
I have no idea what he had been doing just before the red light went on, but I thought I’d use the photo as an excuse to write a short list of “Do’s and Don’ts” for budding news reporters around the world.
1) Don’t ever appear on network television (particularly on HD channels) without wearing make-up, or at the very least without wiping the sweat off your face. 2) Refuse to work with lighting technicians unless they have at least 3 years experience. 3) Don’t run up fifteen flights of stairs, go for a punishing jog in the park, or work out at the gym seconds before delivering a news bulletin on BBC1. 4) Don’t let anyone persuade you to drink a huge glass of red wine just before you go on air – remember, your career as a journalist and your personal credibility is far more important than a free drink. 5) Wash your hair. 6) Check that your health insurance is up to date.
I’ve always been a big fan of the “Before and After” picture, and the nice thing about this example is that it poses an intriguing question: “After what?”