Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Adventures in Cephalonia 10

Hello. My name is Kostas Economides and I am a lecturer in the Department of Economics at the University of the South of England (USE for short). Well, actually that is not true really as the names of individuals and institutions in this blog have been changed to protect the innocent - and the guilty!

What happened to Gus and Heather in Cephalonia made the national as well as the local news back in the UK. However it was a few days before the story reached the British media and by that time Gus and Heather were back home. But there was no avoiding the publicity and soon reporters were outside their house looking for pictures and interviews.

The university, in the shape of the marketing department, contacted Gus and suggested that he should agree to appear on the local BBC and ITV news programmes. After all, they reminded him, it was entirely due to his quick thinking after Heather had been rescued that Maheras had been captured before he could flee Cephalonia. This reflected well on him, and by extension the university that employed him. Gus was initially reluctant, arguing that the whole affair was a private matter and nothing to do with the university. But the marketing people said that all the news reports had highlighted his position at USE and it would be helpful to the university to take advantage of the public interest in the story.

Gus was also reluctant to appear on TV because, unlike some of his colleagues, he had never done this before and he was worried that he wouldn't come over very well. Richard Gardener was always on the local news programmes, commenting on budget statements or big local business stories. But he had undergone special media training sessions and knew how to approach these appearances, whether they be in the studio or outside on the street somewhere.

However eventually Gus gave way. Mike Rowe put a bit of pressure on him saying that in the interview he could play up the economics department as well as the university. There were lots of potential students who lived in the area and might be considering attending one of the local universities. They might just be tipped towards USE and perhaps even economics if he gave a good performance. Gus doubted that these potential students would be watching the local news programmes but conceded that their parents probably would be.

And so it was that Gus appeared on both local TV news programmes on consecutive days last week. And it turned out that he is a natural, coming over very well, telling the story in a relaxed and concise way, and charming the women reporters who interviewed him. He has told me that he actually enjoyed the experience and would even consider going on again when the trial eventually comes to court. And Mike was delighted. The caption showing his name said "Dr Gus Johns, Department of Economics, USE". Although personally I wonder how many viewers would have noticed that.

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