Karen Matthews tickled me while I reported on her missing daughter: BBC Radio Leeds reporter

Richard Edwards from BBC Leeds and Katie Hall from BBC News Online speak to students at Journalism Week.

Katie Hall from BBC News Online and Richard Edwards from BBC Leeds speak to students at Journalism Week.

BBC Radio Leeds reporter Richard Edwards said he knew something was awry in the case of missing schoolgirl Shannon Matthews due to her mother Karen’s immaturity.

Speaking to journalism students at Leeds Trinity University for Journalism Week 2014, Richard emphasised the importance of a reporter knowing their patch and treating the locals with respect.

He said: “I became so under the skin of the community and the Matthews family that I considered changing my name to Richard Matthews.”

Richard was given exclusive access to the Matthews household in Dewsbury in 2008 while police investigated the whereabouts of the missing nine-year-old, and even took pictures of Shannon’s bedroom.

During one visit Karen Matthews surprised Richard by tickling him from behind.

He said: “At one point she was given a free portion of fish and chips and I remember she said ‘my daughter should go missing more often.'”

Richard concluded Karen’s behaviour was peculiar for a mother whose daughter was missing and said it came as no surprise when the scandal was revealed. Karen Matthews and her boyfriend’s uncle Michael Donovan were later jailed over her kidnapping.

Richard was joined in the lecture by BBC colleague Katie Hall who works as online journalism for Yorkshire.

BBC colleagues Richard Edwards and Katie Hall

BBC colleagues Richard Edwards and Katie Hall

Katie tackled the subject of female journalists being trolled on Twitter.

She said she doesn’t like to put herself “out there” through fear of abuse on social media.

Katie said: “I believe you should be able to put what you like on social media as long as it does not affect you getting a job. But I do know of journalists who have been hounded off Twitter.”

Katie said she believed those who commit libel should be prosecuted: “They are breaking established laws which any media organisation who posted similar comments would be punished for.”

Although Katie compared trolling to any other form of harassment, she added: “There is always the block button.”

She credited Leeds Trinity for helping her land her first freelance job at Real Radio after completing the PGDiploma in Bimedia Journalism. This turned into a long-term post after reporting on several murders.

She advised journalism students not become lazy reporters: “It’s important not to take press releases at face value. There’s always a more interesting story. There’s all sorts of ways now of getting behind stories.”

Richard Edwards talks of his passion for radio and how regional accents are now acceptable in the BBC.



  1. You have promoted me here! Definitely not the editor!

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