Evan Davis: Should Journalists be Entertainers

ON THE day that he was honoured by Coventry University for his services to financial journalism, presenter of the BBC Radio 4 Today programme and Dragons Den, Evan Davis spoke about his career in the journalism at a special graduation week Coventry Conversation.

Evan Davis gleaned mixed reviews after taking over from John Humphrys on the Today programme, he spoke about how the audience “write e-mails of lots of colours” and how he said with a smile, how he deals with the pressure: “Having starting by reading e-mails everyday and getting more and more depressed by how many people hated me”

Another area, which Davis was getting criticism, was his sometimes overly soft interviewing style, particularly after filling John Humphrys shoes. He stressed the need for entertainment saying people don’t want to listen to it if its all “grown up interview” but that’s not the only thing that constitutes a good interview: “I genuinely, genuinely don’t think I’ve done a good interview if I have snared them or caught them out. I think there are a occasions where making them look stupid is a public service but I think they are fairly rare occasions, I think most importantly is to make sure if they have something to say that they are given the chance to say it”

Should the presenters of news programmes step over the boundaries into entertainment was a question posed to Davis something that he felt threatened the integrity of the journalists: “I your associated with the delivery of facts and you’re in an entertainment programme that plays with the facts there may be a deception”

When discussing his own style of journalism Davis said there’s one piece of advice that’s stuck with him: “if anyone tells you that comment is free and facts are sacred they’ve got it the wrong way around” he continued to stress throughout his answer that there’s no one particular style that makes a good journalist but that everyone should have at least one thing that makes them a good journalist.

Davis gave a bleak assessment of the media world for prospective journalists in the room, saying: “Get a plan B… I don’t say have a plan B because journalism doesn’t exist or because you might not be good at it… I think there should be some other little area in your life that isn’t just journalism”.

Davis proposed the idea that the people who should probably start charging for there content with a micro payment structure should be the BBC: “they’re in a uniquely privileged position to set up the infrastructure to make their content which is already being paid for one idea not advocating this, The BBC should charge for its web-pages, a penny a page and it should take all revenues thereby derived and just give them back in a reduction in the license fee the following year” although he stressed that this was purely an idea and that he didn’t advocate it.  

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