Welcome to my blog. I may write copy here that I would not present elsewhere. This blog allows me to comment while reporting for clients which can include subscription-only platforms. I use it to take a sideways look at running stories, and all views presented here are my own.

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Saturday, 4 August 2012

Why Did Die Welt mention Forbes India in its article on Boris Becker?

I was happy to be seeing Boris Becker Friday August 3rd; Visit Britain had selected a number of journalists to meet the former world tennis champion at the St Ermin, a charming heritage hotel in central London. We have a journalistic code of conduct which kicks in the moment we step onto professional ground; it includes courtesy and respect for those we interact with. I cannot understand the sneering, arrogant tone that was adopted by Die Welt - the reporter implied that we should all have been there to take Boris Becker apart. Why? Becker hadn't done anything wrong, we were invited by Visit Britain -he represents it as an ambassador- and we were being given an opportunity to interview a world champion in an intimate environment, with lunch thrown in! Boris Becker is in no particular need of publicity. His job as ambassador is unpaid, he was doing the meet as a favour, the least that guests could do was observe a little bit of courtesy. In fact, he gave some interesting and entertaining answers to our questions. I don't know why Die Welt should have singled me on behalf of Forbes India out for my question and subsequent answer (which revealed something about Boris Becker's mindset). Once you get your interview with your subject, that is the best time to throw in any curve balls you wish to - if you are into that game. It is surprising what you can elicit just by being persistent and phrasing a polite question different ways. Eventually your subject will give you something. But to go in offensively and harshly right from the start doesn't earn you any favours and our business is all about creating good relationships that will allow you access on a continuous basis. To do that you must be respectful. Though Visit Britain had warned me that Boris would be short of time, so we needed to ask our questions in open session, I did ask to start a private interview with him. Boris agreed to my request and answered me fully, before being whisked away by government officials. Die Welt, you did our profession no favours that day, you disrupted the working atmosphere and I am very surprised at your hostility to one of your own country's best ambassadors. Remember on the world stage Boris Becker fought and won championships and set world records not for Britain, but for Germany. You may have grabbed some attention on Friday August 3rd, 2012, but I can assure you that Boris Becker will figure on the world stage for a lot longer than your very small reporter will.

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