The BBC carried the interview with her very early in the morning. The interviewer could have asked, "Why do you think you'll be successful with this when A4e's record is so bad?" But no. The BBC's news website has only two sentences on the subject as part of its report of David Cameron's speech.
The Express does only slightly better. Describing Harrison as an entrepreneur, it reports Cameron as saying, "What works is focused, personalised support - someone the family trusts coming into their home to help them improve their lives step-by-step, month-by-month."
The Telegraph's take is that "Mr Cameron announced that he had appointed a new families “tsar” in a drive to help households in crisis escape unemployment and poverty. Emma Harrison, the entrepreneur and chairman of A4e (Action for Employment), will support hundreds of families in a pilot scheme to help them find work."
The best coverage so far is on the Children & Young People Now website. They report that the government intends the scheme to be piloted in 6 to 10 local authority areas, still to be announced, which will get extra cash to run it. The site expands the quote from Cameron: "Harrison understands how to help families improve their lives "step-by-step, month-by-month". She refuses to believe some people are lost causes and has a proven track record of turning lives around," he said. "Her approach is the complete opposite of the impersonal, one-size-fits-all approach that has failed so many families – which is why I have asked her to come on board to help us." (This is the obvious point at which to say, "Really? Are you sure?", but of course no one does.) They report Harrison as saying, "I have more than twenty years experience helping the long-term unemployed get back into the workplace and all the evidence shows that by providing focused, one-to-one support we will start to help troubled families." (What evidence, Emma? A4e's results?) They then say that the Department of Education emphasised that Harrison's involvement in the trials is "on a purely personal basis. No payment or benefit of any type will accrue to her or to any organisations she is involved with."
Hmm, "no benefit of any type" except oodles of publicity and first crack at the eventual contracts, perhaps.
When will journalists start to do their homework?