Brian Edwards Media

Media Tip: “No Comment”? No Way!

got-a-comment-sirWhat do you do if you’re caught on the hop and don’t want to answer a journalist’s question?  Most people panic and revert to blurting out, “No comment.”

“No comment” is a cliché, and it has the ring of evasion to it.  While you might think it’s a perfectly neutral way to avoid a media debate, or even an attributed quote, the public will interpret it quite differently.  

“Aha!” thinks the viewer/listener/reader. “There’s a character with something to hide!  Something shifty, something fishy, something I’d really, really like to know about.”

Alternatively, if a journalist puts a proposition and gets a “no comment” in reply, that’s frequently interpreted as tacit agreement: “You might very well think that, but I couldn’t possibly comment!”

Either way, you’ll do yourself no favours with this phrase.  There are lots of other ways of handling this: “I’m sorry, I can’t/won’t/am not prepared to talk to you about that,” “I think that’s a question you should put to …..  “You’re asking the wrong person, I’m afraid,” and you’ll probably be able to think up a dozen others.

Or you can just ignore the question, which is often the safest way.  If you answer, you can get yourself into a situation that’s hard to dig your way out of.  If you’re door-stopped and you don’t want to talk, just keep walking. If you think it’s going to happen, make sure you’re with someone else and deep in conversation.

And what if it happens in the middle of an interview?  It never should, if you’ve done your preparation properly, which may include laying down the ground rules for the interview.  If you haven’t and it does and you find yourself wriggling like a bug on a pin, you’ve only got yourself to blame.

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2 Comments:

  1. I think Lange knew how to handle this, Journo…”Prime Minister, a word?”
    Lange….”Wombat”

    No further questions were necessary.

  2. Not sure that this is true:), but thanks for a post.
    Have a nice day
    Pett