A question to a new public sector Facebook group asked for people’s off-beat questions from journalists. The answers may surprise you.
By Dan Slee
For a while now I’ve been banging on about the importance of Facebook groups. Not pages but groups.
For even longer I’ve been going on about the importance of doing and sharing.
Sure, it’s a chance to ask work-related questions and there’s a pile of them. Out-of-hours calls, Facebook advertising and plain language comms have all been covered. But it has also been a chance to kick-off the shoes. In just over a week almost 500 people have signed-up.
For this blog I crowd-sourced a list of the weirdest questions asked:
The War Memorial Query
As part of WW1 commemorations we were asked if we had email addresses of local people who served in the War. They wanted to take a picture of them beside the war memorial. And if we could, can we tell them what memorial has their name on it ‘so we could get their reactions’.
– Amanda Waugh
The ‘Skylightgate’ query
Journo: "what’s a skylight?"
Me: "what do you mean, what’s a skylight?"
Journo: "There’s a planning application in for one and it sounds like it could be an interesting story."
Me: "Trust me, it’s not an interesting story."
– Ian Curwen
The is a fatal fatal query
A radio reporter once called me and asked: "Were the fatal injuries serious?"
I don’t know how, but I played it with a straight bat and answered: "Yes. The victim died.”
The spiritualist question
Weirdest ones tend to come in via FOI: how often has your Council employed a spiritualist? How often has your Council received reports of ghosts in Council buildings. Really disappointed that answers to both questions were nil.
– Lisa Potter.
The weird Body Part question
Literally JUST got a call asking whether we were planning to use the A1 Motorway to transport any giant body parts, for a BBC Daytime series.”
– Sophie Ballinger
The weird siege question
“Can you tell me how long the siege will be going on for? Do I have time to get a photographer there?"
– Jeni Harvey.
The Teenage Mutant Turtle question
Journo: "I’ve been tipped off that there are some sort of mutant ninja turtles breeding in the ponds at the country park and they are killing ducks… can you check it out for me?"
Seriously. That call really happened to a colleague. How we laughed when said colleague had to gently explain who the teenage mutant ninja turtles were and that someone must have been pulling their leg. The reporter however, didn’t find it as funny.
– Kathryn Green.
The weird eclipse question
“How many working hours were lost for people going out to watch the solar eclipse in 199X – this was while I was working for the Local Gov Ombudsman as a press officer – not sure why he thought we’d know, but I helped him work through an example maths problem.”
– Ingrid Koehler.
The weird horse question
"Do you have any CCTV of that horse loose inside your Hospital?" – in my time in the NHS, probably the only media enquiry I’ve ever had from Horse and Hound.
– Adrian Osborne
The weird time travel question
Journalist: "I saw a piece on Twitter about Councillors visiting a site. Will this go ahead given this morning’s incident at the site?"
Me: "Well as the piece on Twitter was video and photos of the Councillors visiting yesterday, and we haven’t invented time travel yet."
– Lisa Potter
The weird mafia question
Reporter: “Can you confirm that your hospital received stolen body parts from the mafia in New York?.”
– Maria Vidal.
The weird nudist question
Reporter: "We’ve been told a clothed nudist has been stopped for cycling across a public square in the city centre"
Me: "surely a clothed nudist cycling is just a cyclist"
Reporter: "well yes but he’s known to be a nudist"
– Johno Johnson
The War Memorial question
Reporter: “I’m just putting together some copy, and looking at the photos I can see Great War but can’t make out the dates…”
– Jon Phillips
The weird helicopter question
Him: "Can you tell me what the helicopter is doing please?"
Me: "Sure, where about is it?"
Him: *deadly seriously* "Well, it’s in a sort of Sky position?"
Me: *Stifles giggle* "Umm I kind of meant what town"
Him: *nervous laugh* *sounding very embarrassed* "Oh right… I see…"
– Charlotte Parker
The weird dancing horse question
“In a previous existence ‘can you make the horse dance while we film it?’ I may be able to do many things but making a horse dance in Mexico I had to draw the line at.
– Emma Rodgers