UPDATED: The power of cake – Bake Off doubles our viewing figures, says C4 News’ Alex Thomson


By Lizzy McEllan and Tania Jacquier

A TOP television reporter has admitted he doesn’t watch TV news despite working in the industry for 25 years.

Channel 4 News’ chief correspondent Alex Thomson said he prefers to watch the news online. He said shorter, internet videos are the way forward, but admitted he “doesn’t have a clue” how to edit for Facebook.

Speaking at Leeds Trinity Journalism week, Alex said: “The pattern of families gathering around the television is falling apart.

“Around 800,000 people watch the programme but millions of people watch the shorter online stories. My lovingly crafted reports get cut down to two minutes – my voice and piece to camera gets cut. I wouldn’t have a clue how to cut it down.”

He told the audience that Channel 4 News is a monolithic exercise in commercial suicide – normally the programme only gets between 800,000 and a million viewers every night, putting off advertising.

However the Great British Bake Off pushed it up to 1.6 million – but only on a Tuesday night.

[Read more…]

UPDATED: James Tennant challenges students to achieve their goals


Alumnus James Tennant overcomes his stammer and talks to a packed lecture theatre at Leeds Trinity Journalism Week 

By Oliver Lines

A Leeds Trinity University graduate spoke about the challenges of overcoming his stammer to deliver a talk at Journalism Week.

James Tennant, who works at digital marketing company Take That Ltd, encouraged students to set targets and achieve them, whether personal or professional.

“You only get one shot in life, so make the most of it because you are going to have obstacles that you need to overcome,” he said.

“One phrase that has always stuck with me is ‘you wouldn’t ask someone with a broken leg to walk upstairs, so why are you asking a stammerer to speak?’

“I will always have a stammer but it’s up to me how I control it.”

[Read more…]

UPDATED: News journalist Danielle Whitfield’s first job spans murders and celebrity tales


Graduate Danielle Whitfield showcases some of the stories she has covered for national publications

By Anna Riley

Celebrity penis sizes, bestiality, kidnapping and murders are among the variety of stories covered daily by a news agency journalist.

Danielle Whitfield, a Leeds Trinity University alumna, was yet to graduate when she started working at North News and Pictures, a Newcastle-based press agency.

The reporter juggled studying with a full-time job and her success shows how personality and attitude are some of the most important skills to have as a journalist, rather than academic achievement.

Danielle said: “I didn’t do very well in my A-Levels, so I was so pleased that I got in to university to study Journalism and English.

“In my third year I never thought I would get the job at North News, but they took a chance on me.

[Read more…]

LIVE: Cartoons hold politicians to account, says journalist


Sheffield Star cartoonist James Whitworth

By Jack Goodman

The MPs expenses scandal was ‘like Christmas’ for cartoonists, James Whitworth told journalism students.

The prominent cartoonist said the history of cartoon satire and a historical lack of censorship in cartoons dating back to medieval times had given the art social importance.

The 2009 political scandal revealed some MPs were wrongly claiming expenses for personal goods. James said: “Every single day when you thought ‘I can’t possibly draw another cartoon’, someone had claimed for a moat!”

He showed an example cartoon which said: “I went into politics to make my living room a better place.”

[Read more…]

LIVE: Danielle Whitfield on Little Mix, Adam Johnson and learning on the job



Danielle Whitfield

By Sam Brooksbank

Being thrown in at the deep end was exhilarating for Danielle Whitfield as she was sent out on stories involving girl band Little Mix and disgraced footballer Adam Johnson on her first day at work.

A Leeds Trinity University alumna, Danielle Whitfield started working at Newcastle-based press agency North News and Pictures while still completing her undergraduate degree.

Although Danielle dubs herself “too thick” and “not the cleverest”, she got into Leeds Trinity to do English and  Journalism.

On her very first day, she was sent from job to job, including going to court on a story about Little Mix’s Jade Thirwall’s stalker and having to get a copy of Adam Johnson’s birth certificate.

“I went in and I was so scared and so nervous because at North News we have the biggest stories from our patch.  They have had some of the biggest stories on the front pages of the nationals,” she said.

[Read more…]

UPDATED: Erwin James says writing gave him a second chance after murder sentence


img_1704By Henry Valantine

Guardian columnist Erwin James shared his message of redemption, as finding a career in journalism helped him ‘massively’ in adjusting to the outside world after his release from prison.

He first started writing the A Life Inside feature for The Guardian while still behind bars in 1995, after they had approached prisoners wanting them to write about life in jail.

Erwin was released in 2004, having served 20 years after being convicted of two murders, and is now also editor of Inside Time, a publication written by and for prisoners that attracts an online audience of 200,000 per month.

On perceptions of him after his release, he said: “When you get out of jail in this country, people don’t want to know you. You get out of prison after 20 years, and people especially don’t want to know you.

[Read more…]

UPDATED: Having a disability is not always the story, says diversity expert Vidar Hjardeng


ITV diversity consultant Vidar Hjardeng discusses the issues around inclusivity at Leeds Trinity Journalism Week.

By Oliver Lines

Diversity is more than just talking to minorities about issues that impact only them, according to a leading expert.

Speaking at Leeds Trinity’s Journalism Week, ITV’s diversity consultant Vidar Hjardeng told students about his concept of incidental diversity and how the media had changed to accommodate it.

“Just because you talk to wheelchair users about access to a building, doesn’t mean that they don’t have as many views about Theresa May or Gareth Southgate,” said Vidar.

[Read more…]

LIVE: Diversity is key to attracting talent into journalism, says Vidar Hjardeng

ITV diversity consultant Vidar Hjardeng discusses the issues around inclusivity at Leeds Trinity Journalism Week.

By Matthew Brannen

News organisations must diversify their TV, radio and written output if they want to connect with the next generation of journalists.

ITV diversity consultant Vidar Hjardeng told Leeds Trinity University’s Journalism Week journalists’ work had an impact on the industry and must appeal to as wide an audience as possible.

He said: “People who are looking for a career in journalism will either be won over or alienated by a news organisation’s output.”

Vidar, who was awarded his MBE in 2012 for services to visually impaired people and to broadcasting, has spent more than 25 years at ITV as well as working for groups that help the blind and partially sighted.

[Read more…]

UPDATED: Suzanne Watson on Take That, eczema and life in public relations


Suzanne Watson and a young Take That

By Kelly Woodward

Life hasn’t always been so easy and straightforward for award-winning Suzanne Watson, managing director of Approach PR based in Ilkley.

Suzanne, 44, told students at Leeds Trinity University’s Journalism Week that what she considered her “career low” was turning down the chance to interview “a new up-and-coming boy band” doing a gig in Bradford in 1995.

That band turned out to be Take That before they became famous – but she later got to Gary Barlow.

After leaving school Suzanne was instantly thrown in at the deep end working for a week at Bradford’s Telegraph & Argus.

She said: “I was propelled into a world full of business, politics and MPs but this experience was pivotal to my career.”

[Read more…]

BBC sports journalist Richard Conway tells how interview with Sepp Blatter won an award

By Sam Brooksbank

Award-winning BBC journalist Richard Conway hopes to highlight the highs and lows of a career in the industry at Leeds Trinity University’s Journalism Week.

Richard started his career at ITV working on political programmes before moving to the Sky News sport editorial team before joining the BBC as the sports news correspondent for Radio 5 Live.

In 2015, Richard gained notoriety when he was allowed unprecedented access to interview the then-head of world football Sepp Blatter at his home in Switzerland.

Richard’s coverage of Fifa across all broadcast media won him the Broadcast Sports Journalist of the Year in February this year.

He said: “The interview was a result of sticking with a story for years.

“Having covered Fifa stories for six years – everything from goal line technology to corruption issues – I was on personal terms with most of the main players in the organisation and Blatter’s daughter and advisor, Corinne.”

[Read more…]