COMMENT: Nick Robinson's 'dictator' Boris claim is 'out of touch' with social media

Nick Robinson's 'dictator' Boris claim is 'out of touch' with social media

BBC Today presenter Nick Robinson has accused Boris Johnson of acting “like a dictator” for broadcasting directly to voters in social media videos.

The bigger picture, which Robinson is clearly upset about, is leaders like Johnson are becoming increasingly frustrated at the interviewer wishing to become the headline-grabbing star, the skewer of the piece.

When the interviewee arrives at a studio they know they are going into a lion’s den.

Even on radio there are now cameras filming every flinch, twitch and look, which can then be made into a story should the broadcaster wish to do so and where you as the subject have no control

Lets not forget social media is where, more than ever, the bigger audiences are now to be found. Why would anyone wish to present themselves in a situation where they are already on the backfoot?

What social media allows is a situation where the client is fully comfortable in their own surroundings and more importantly can create the right atmosphere, be it in a TV studio or on location.

In control of your own background, lighting and sound, you can create the right image you wish to convey to the world and not just to the followers you have on social media

Most people who are successful and busy like Johnson, Corbyn and co are also limited by time constraints.

The vast swath of media shows now means you have Kay Burley at Breakfast, then Piers Morgan, then BBC Breakfast. Whoever you choose to appear on first is likely to offend the other.

In the case of Good Morning Britain, they recently berated the Prime Minister for appearing on BBC Breakfast before them.

It’s easy to see why direct social media is far more appealing to the busy politician or businessman.

Robinson said: “There is no doubt that all politicians know that they can broadcast directly using social media. Johnson regularly does videos on Facebook and regularly does videos on Twitter.

“And he has the great joy on Facebook of calling it the People’s PMQs which largely consists of his aides picking questions that they want him to answer.”

The claim politicians can simply pick and choose the questions they wish to answer is simply not true.

On social media you can see a stream of questions running throughout any live video and of course it can turn into a minefield at any given time.

This is really the time for the people who can, for the very first time, make direct contact with the people that make decisions about their future and people love this fact – hence the medium is growing rapidly

Rather than encourage people to appear on political shows, Robinson’s soundbite is likely to make them take the opposite stance and create their own stream of direct contact with their audience.

Was there really any need to come across as a slightly out of touch broadcaster to the millions of Today listeners who enjoy this new and exciting media revolution?

Neil Sean is a social media trainer. He can be reached at



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