Car crash TV or a sharp PR lesson?

As the UK mainstream media obsesses with the usual fare this month; stories about itself (Leveson enquiry), the Westminster circus (Chris Huhne’s alleged traffic offence) and celebrity tragedy (this month it is Whitney Huston).  It remains the case that we need more Technology stories and geek spokespeople, more women in IT and in the view of many of us, fewer politicians on TV.

As you will know from previous rants here, we just need more awareness of the importance of technology employment to the UK economy. Why then, was the appearance of Julie Meyer, CEO of Ariadne Capital, who according to the private equity advisor’s website has ”pioneered a new model for the financing of entrepreneurship” such a ‘Horlicks’? Seldom has one appearance caused so much negativity. Here is a sample of Twitter comments, ranging from the amusing (in an ironic British sense)

@kristiancarter That awkward moment when Julie Meyer gets home, checksTwitter, and finds that all the “digital natives” hate her.
@RolandMooreTV: Anyone else playing the Julie Meyer “entrepreneur” drinking game? I’m smashed. #bbcqt

To the potentially brand-damaging

@stellduffy: Julie Meyer is only following 8 people on Twitter. Does she need a free, young intern to explain how it works?
@carysafoko: Why is BBC obsessed with Julie Meyer? She’s
done #bbcqt and news night this week. Despite being mental.

This is a real shame because, having worked with Ms Meyer (a LONG time ago) in her earlier role as an entrepreneurial founder of First Tuesday, she was clearly eloquent and intelligent in equal measures and others have called her telegenic (judge for yourself if relevant ). In other words, her appearance should have been a breakthrough for smart females in tech.

Elements of her ‘performance’ were refreshing. Perhaps more guests, often clueless but feeling compelled to say something in front of an audience, should follow her lead and simply duck out of discussing topics of which they are totally ignorant or disinterested (as she did when asked about the issue of regionally-elected mayors).

Speaking to ‘sources close to Julie’ it seems she was ill-advised. But the real question is how far has this car crash cost the rest of the Tech community their shot of getting seriously clued-up technology commentators back on mainstream telly?

We fear a lot, in which case the best that the tech community can hope for on the media which ‘middle Britain’ watches (free to air TV)  is the ghastly combo of gadget ghetto and light entertainment which is Channel Five’s The Gadget Show,  its Murdoch rival Gadget Geeks and the BBC’s very dated Click.

Surely there is an audience for intelligent debate on technology in UK broadcast? Sadly we are missing the mark so far. If there are any TV production teams brave enough, we reckon we know where to start. 


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