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The Binary World of Antisocial Media

I love my wife and children. I love radio. I love chocolate HobNobs. I love teaching my students. Each of the above statements is true. Ea...

05 December 2017

Looking Back

It's always nice to be recognised, and I was delighted a week ago tonight to be honoured by the Broadcast Journalism Training Council with a Special Recognition Award for being ..well .. towards the end of a longish career.

I spent 23 years in all training broadcast journalists, the first decade or so of that alongside working in a broadcast newsroom at The Pulse in Bradford, latterly as News Editor through some turbulent times.

I've been extremely privileged throughout my professional career. I didn't have a day of unemployment between 1 October 1980, when I was taken on as a copywriter at Pennine Radio, and 31 August this year. That's remarkable given the volatile nature of the radio industry, and is evidenced by the enormous task I've had trying to find who now actually runs the Pennine Radio pension scheme I joined in 1981. That could be an investigative journalism challenge in itself.

More importantly, at a human level, I've been extremely privileged to work with over four hundred trainees who passed through my courses.

22 November 2017

Responses to "Driving Ambition"

Publishing a pull-together of Tweets on a controversial subject is now apparently a thing.

So in the interests of modernity, here are just a few responses to my blog this week asking whether a driving licence should be a prerequisite for embarking on a vocational course in journalism.

19 November 2017

Driving Ambition

One of the freedoms that comes from leaving a staff job in Higher Education is the opportunity to question policy. I always had a simple goal in mind when training a young broadcast journalist, and that was getting them into a job at the end of it.

I succeeded around 93% of the time, and I'm proud of that stat.

One trainee in my last proper Broadcast PG cohort told me, with great wisdom, that the course was "like a freelance gig you can't be sacked from".

She meant it was as real as I could make it, but with the freedom to make mistakes and still come back the next day, or have two or three goes until the story is right - a luxury newbies don't enjoy on an actual first freelance shift.

I had to compromise in recreating the real world. 0500 starts upset security, so "earlies" (sic) had the more agreeable, mid-morning start time of 0800. Even then there were squeals of anguish from those coming in on public transport.

Which begs an important question.

12 November 2017

A New Hope For Cinderella

I've been privileged to be a Gillards judge four times in the past six years. There's some great work going on in BBC Local Radio, and hearing station entries from places I've never been is like opening a door into a different world.

There's also some astoundingly average stuff going on. What I heard often sounded too much like a logging tape. Competent, but not attention grabbing, or award-winningly good.

I wasn't invited this year, though - so I wasn't in the room when DG Tony Hall announced that ten million pounds worth of cuts to local radio were being scrapped.

It's normal to hear platitudes from the suit handing out the Gillard gongs about how valued and important local radio is. It's unheard of for fine words to be backed up with hard cash, even if the reward for 50 years of sterling service amounts only to a reprieve from yet more punishment.

But the surprises were not yet over. Dave and Sue are finally banished. No more catering for the over-50s alone. BBC Local Radio is for "everyone". The All-England network show in the evenings will be scrapped in the spring. Each Managing Editor will in future be responsible for filling the whole schedule.

This creates a wonderful opportunity for local radio, as it moves into its sixth decade. But it also creates a number of problems.

19 March 2017

25 Years of BCB Radio

I was delighted to give a talk this week to members of BCB Radio (Bradford Community Broadcasting - 106.6FM). They're celebrating a special anniversary this year, 25 years of delivering great community radio for Bradford.

I was originally asked to give a bit of a pep talk to the membership on the opportunities offered by expanding the hyperlocal news service. Somehow, in the pre-publicity for the event, this became "Adventures in Broadcast Journalism" - a rather more ambitious brief - and then it was billed as the opening event in a series of "Creative Bradford" talks to encourage creative industries in the district. So no pressure, then.

I was surprised, but after the foregoing shouldn't have been, to discover, the day before the event, that not only was it to be broadcast live on BCB but it was also to be livestreamed on Facebook.

So this is the literal, verbatim account of the session as it happened - there is more I could have said, more I wish I'd said in retrospect.

I'll be writing a follow-up blog when pressure of other commitments allows.

It will become obvious why I never did telly.


10 February 2017

Viewers in the North? How Awful for You

Imagine the scene. It's January, 2010. Children are crawling on their hands and knees to get to school, because the roads and pavements are too icy to stand upright.

This has come about because of a rare weather phenomenon where lying snow and ice has begun to melt, then frozen suddenly as temperatures drop sharply. You'd think it would be a huge story for journalists - pictures! Human interest! Once in a lifetime event! Did I say pictures?

But it hardly got a mention outside West Yorkshire, because it happened in Holmfirth. Not Holborn. For a while the BBC News website marked the unseasonal weather with a picturesque shot of a snow-flecked red London bus passing by the tower of Big Ben.

This is a classic example of regional discrimination, in its own way as bad as sex or race discrimination, and the basis of a piece I've just written for an ebook on diversity from the Broadcast Journalism Training Council, of which I'm a Journalism and Accreditation board member.