The Right Expert For TV News: Sometimes A Cabbie Will Do

It's what reporters and editors have always feared: that anyone could offer expert commentary on just about anything, and still come off looking okay on TV.

With the rash of cable news channels and other assorted digital platforms, the need for expert commentary is everywhere. Some news organizations are so desperate that they'll reach far and wide.

This wasn't the case with the BBC. Yet earlier this summer it was looking for some expert commentary on the long-running court battle between Apple Computer and the Apple Corps music label concerning copyright infringement and the downloading of music via the Internet.

So the BBC called on a guy named Guy Kewney, the editor of the technology Web site Newswireless. But by mistake it was Guy Goma, a taxi driver, who showed up on-air.

Goma came to the BBC for a job interview in the accounting department. He has a thick accent, and amid the chaos of a harried reception area, was sent to a room to prepare for an interview -- a TV interview.



Goma's confusion was readily apparent in the first five seconds of his "interview." Being a good citizen -- as well as hoping not to disappoint his potential employer -- he bravely tried to offer his best analysis of the situation.

"It is much better for development and to inform people... " he mused. "It is going to be an easy way for everyone to get something from the Internet."

Sounds good. Even the BBC, in a follow-up report about the gaffe, said Goma had made a few good points.

Years ago, when I was working at a major TV/advertising trade magazine, a local Los Angeles TV station wanted me to speak about a scandalous Calvin Klein billboard on Sunset Ave.

I knew nothing about it, or the history of notorious Calvin Klein outdoor media. But my bureau chief said to go. "Never turned them down," he said. "You can always say something. They need it."

For one day, the BBC was in a hurry, and, at that moment, Guy Goma said something. The BBC got what it needed.

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