UPDATED: ITV News Foreign Editor describes rushing to Paris after Princess Diana crash

Michael Herrod, Foreign Editor at ITV News

Michael Herrod, Foreign Editor at ITV News

By Caroline Grandjean

Journalism is beset with risks and poorly paid – but is still the most exciting job, according to the foreign editor of ITV News.

Leeds Trinity graduate Michael Herrod told students he had “loved every minute” of his career.

Passion, drive, enthusiasm and desire were key to succeed, he said.

Michael described how journalists had a duty “to tell people the things you think they should know” and also highlighted the need to care about a story – otherwise there was a risk the story would lack the necessary energy.

He described social media as “a blessing and a curse” but admitted some technology had benefits – making the world very much smaller but also changing the news playing field.

This shift created a new challenge, aside from the advantage of enabling reporters to get stories more rapidly, it compelled journalists to be extra cautious regarding the accuracy of the sources.

Michael debated what makes a good story and explained the questions ITV ask when it comes to foreign stories.

“Does the story have good pictures? That’s more likely to get watched. Is there a significant person involved? Does it involve death? What is the death toll? Is it significant?” he said.

He outlined the benefits of the journalism training he received at Leeds Trinity.

Michael told how he is now responsible for assessing the safety of the reporters he sends around the globe.

He said: “All of these people have passion, they want to go out there and report these stories, often from very nasty places.”

The audience were shown ITV News broadcasts from a rescue helicopter over Iraq and a woman being pulled from rubble after an earthquake in Haiti.

Michael recalled travelling to France overnight to cover the death of Princess Diana in Paris. He received a pager message in August 1997 saying ‘Dodi dead, Diana injured. Phone the desk’.

He explained: “I went to the phone box and I phoned in. I was told there had been a car crash.

“I rushed into the office and there was a camera man with a car and we got into the vehicle at 1am in the morning. By 10am I got there and I stayed there for a week.”

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