Steven Price

My book

Media Minefield

Guide to NZ Media Law

Official Information Act

Official Information Act

Bill of Rights Act

Media law resources

Feeds (RSS)

« | Main | »

How to door-step someone

By Steven | November 29, 2011

John Campbell has demonstrated, with immaculate ethics, how to go about door-stepping someone. Door-stepping is turning up to someone’s place with cameras rolling to get that person to answer questions. As the BSA has often said, it’s usually unfair to do this.

But the Campbell Live crew weren’t unfair. They were doing a story on Tower Insurance. They’d talked to a punter whose property was in Christchurch’s red-zone. His insurance policy was a replacement one. Tower was going to pay for repairs but not replace his home somewhere else. Campbell Live called Tower three times, and filled out a media inquiry form. Tower didn’t respond.

So Campbell went to Tower’s office to try to get a response. Here’s how you deal with the poor receptionist in a situation like that:

Campbell: I am so sorry just to walk up to you like this, but we have tried tremendously hard to get somebody to talk to us about the situation in Christchurch with replacement polices in the red zone. Now, we know absolutely that that is not your job and your department. But we have been trying to get somebody to talk to us, no one returns calls. Is there anyone here that can deal with the media on that subject?

The receptionist was shown competently dealing with the situation. I’m not sure the same can be said of Tower’s head honcho. Campbell was first told that he was in a meeting, and replied, with the sort of effusive courtesy that only Campbell can muster:

Sorry, this is a terribly difficult situation for you… Would you mind passing on to them that we are utterly happy to wait for them, they look like comfortable seats, we are very happy to wait until they are available.

The CEO then decided he wouldn’t be available at all. Campbell left an invitation to appear on the programme that night.

The BSA has said door-stepping should be a last resort. It should only be used when other attempts to contact the person have failed. In this case, the BSA added another requirement that seems spot on: that the door-step be a genuine attempt to elicit information (and not, for example, just an excuse to get some sexy footage of someone refusing to answer questions).

The BSA concluded, quite rightly, that Campbell’s behaviour wasn’t unfair here.

Still, Tower made another complaint of unfairness relating to a different point. I’m more sympathetic to this one. About an hour and a half before the programme, they emailed a statement to Campbell Live. It said that “there appeared to be some misunderstandings circulating about the nature of the cover available under home insurance policies” and added:

Campbell Live summarised that email this way:

We received an email from Tower saying that they are working hard to ensure that claims are resolved fairly and efficiently and that the concerns currently being expressed are based on a misunderstanding of the nature of the cover available under home insurance policies.

Then he added:

Frankly, that statement raises at least as many questions as it answers. What does replacement mean?

Yes, that letter was sent late in the day. To be fair to Tower, though, they were first contacted about the story that morning. And there’s surely no doubt that Campbell Live could have made time for a longer summary. Campbell Live complained that it would have taken more than 3 minutes to read the statement out in full. But they certainly had some time available: after all, they were offering to do an interview with the Chief Executive and would certainly have made time for that. Besides, Tower was only looking for a fair summary. What happened, I think, was that Campbell Live didn’t like the format of the response, and they short-changed it.

Was it really fair on Tower not to explain that its policy is a top-up for the Earthquake Commission land-damage cover? The BSA thought so:

In our view, while this provided only a very concise representation of Tower’s position, it was sufficient in the context of the programme, which sought to simplify a complicated legal matter for the average viewer.

I disagree. In the context of a show that criticised Tower strongly, dramatised that criticism with a door-stepping, suggested Tower was breaching its own “core value” of empathy to customers, and slagged Tower for failing to front up and explain its policy, it was unfair for Campbell Live not to do a better job of conveying the explanation Tower did give.

So I think it the programme was unfair. But given that Tower then continued to refuse to come on the show and explain its position, I don’t think any penalty was called for, beyond upholding that aspect of the complaint.

Topics: Broadcasting Standards Authority | 15 Comments »

15 Responses to “How to door-step someone”

  1. Graeme Edgeler Says:
    November 30th, 2011 at 9:22 am

    Hadn’t thought of it like that … is there an advertising standards/deceptive conduct thing going on here?

    Tower have advised that their full replacement cover doesn’t extend to land, and is only a top-up to other government-provided cover, and it won’t replace your house with another one of the same value in another area if your current one is unusable. This is apparently industry standard, and pretty reasonable overall as a policy type.

    But even if this is all clearly and obviously explained in the policy, should they be marketing a policy of this type to the effect that it is “full replacement cover”?

  2. must watch Says:
    October 15th, 2017 at 8:00 pm

    … [Trackback]

    […] Read More on|Read More|Read More Infos here|Here you will find 71999 more Infos|Infos on that Topic: […]

  3. agen poker terpercaya Says:
    October 26th, 2017 at 6:19 am

    … [Trackback]

    […] Find More on|Find More|Read More Informations here|There you can find 49785 more Informations|Informations to that Topic: […]

  4. Says:
    November 6th, 2017 at 8:18 pm

    … [Trackback]

    […] Read More here|Read More|Read More Infos here|Here you will find 56371 more Infos|Informations on that Topic: […]

  5. Corporate Event Company Says:
    November 11th, 2017 at 3:35 am

    … [Trackback]

    […] Read More here|Read More|Read More Informations here|Here you can find 50282 additional Informations|Infos on that Topic: […]

  6. DMPK Says:
    November 21st, 2017 at 10:15 pm

    … [Trackback]

    […] Read More here|Read More|Find More Informations here|Here you can find 35237 additional Informations|Infos to that Topic: […]

  7. Striper Fishing Says:
    November 22nd, 2017 at 3:39 am

    … [Trackback]

    […] Read More here|Read More|Find More Informations here|There you can find 74265 more Informations|Infos on that Topic: […]

  8. حاصل على شهادات عالمية من الويبوماتركس Says:
    December 6th, 2017 at 8:00 am

    … [Trackback]

    […] Find More here|Find More|Find More Infos here|Here you can find 44426 more Infos|Infos to that Topic: […]

  9. diyala engineer Says:
    January 9th, 2018 at 11:02 am

    … [Trackback]

    […] Find More here|Find More|Find More Infos here|There you will find 29633 additional Infos|Infos to that Topic: […]

  10. Aplikasi klinik gigi Says:
    January 10th, 2018 at 4:06 am

    … [Trackback]

    […] Read More on|Read More|Find More Informations here|Here you can find 50297 more Informations|Informations on that Topic: […]

  11. GVK BIO Latest News Says:
    January 20th, 2018 at 3:19 am

    … [Trackback]

    […] Read More on|Read More|Read More Infos here|Here you will find 53584 additional Infos|Infos on that Topic: […]

  12. automated trading Says:
    January 29th, 2018 at 12:11 pm

    … [Trackback]

    […] Read More on|Read More|Read More Infos here|Here you can find 53595 additional Infos|Infos on that Topic: […]

  13. wedding planners in Hyderabad Says:
    February 1st, 2018 at 6:16 pm

    … [Trackback]

    […] Read More on|Read More|Read More Informations here|Here you will find 85616 more Informations|Infos on that Topic: […]

  14. Kuruganti Events Hyderabad Says:
    February 4th, 2018 at 8:48 pm

    … [Trackback]

    […] Find More on|Find More|Find More Informations here|Here you can find 59681 additional Informations|Informations on that Topic: […]

  15. forex autotrading Says:
    February 12th, 2018 at 4:18 am

    … [Trackback]

    […] Find More here|Find More|Find More Infos here|Here you will find 77942 additional Infos|Informations on that Topic: […]


You must be logged in to post a comment.