Journalist-turned-MP offers students advice on good reporting

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By Grace Harrison

The importance of trust between politicians and journalists was stressed by a former reporter who now works as an MP.

Jason McCartney, Conservative MP for Colne Valley, told Leeds Trinity University students: “Think in good faith, check your sources and keep your wits about you, because you will quickly get yourself a reputation.”

He also spoke about how a journalist’s social media profile can influence a source when asked to give an interview.

He said: “If you are a journalist in a few years’ time and contact me, you know the first thing I would do is look through your Twitter feed.

“When I see it’s a constant stream of retweeted Mirror newspaper attacks on David Cameron, I know you’re not going to be supportive, but I understand that so obviously I will think in a different way.”

Jason, who used to work for BBC Radio Leeds and ITV Yorkshire’s Calendar programme, suggested that times had changed in terms of journalists asking MPs to comment on a subject off the record.

He said: “I would say in this day and age for a politician there is nothing off the record.

“It all gets reported and I would like to think there is nothing that I say in my personal life when I

leave here later, or when I’m in my car having done an engagement that I wouldn’t say in public.

“I think it’s important for politicians to think about that and to not be hypercritical because you do

get found out.”

Jason, who studied postgraduate Broadcast Journalism at Leeds Trinity before becoming a lecturer on the course, also urged the trainee journalists to treat politicians with the same respect as any other member of society, and to not be prejudiced.

He said: “Create relationships, please think of us as human beings, please try and have some good

faith.

“If something looks too outrageous to be true, it maybe is, so check your sources and try and

suspend your own prejudices as much as possible.”

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