Anyone who’s worked in a newsroom will understand the uncomfortable situations journalists sometimes have to address when pursuing a story. A very good example of this – which I have experienced – is the ‘death knock’, where reporters are sent to interview a family who has just suffered a tragedy. Often, the best stories result from such endeavors – and they have shifted many millions of copies of newspapers over the years. But they can also be painful for all concerned.
I once visited the family of Michael Hodder, who was the train driver involved in the Paddington train crash in October 1999, whilst working on a local paper in his home town of Reading. Six months into the job, I got nowhere that day; Sky and the The Sun were already there – and were greeted by a furious and very upset man who chased them down the street. We had been tipped off about Hodder’s Reading connection by someone who worked in the office who knew his family. It often happens that way. But I also remember the police being bemused at how quickly a posse of tabloid reporters had turned up following the same lead (who had given it to them?).
Richard Peppiatt’s letter to Daily Star proprietor Richard Desmond – Media Guardian
One of the best resignation letters ever, from a former Daily Starreporter driven to distraction by working on the paper. Most journalists can identify with some of the problems he complains to boss Richard Desmond about. But the main thrust of his letter – that he could not live with the ill-founded stories he was writing – is one that deserves a wider audience than some of his previous efforts. Talk about seeing the light…
John Shewell: Public sector comms needs to make the case for change – PR Week online Brighton and Hove City Council head of comms John Shewell outlines eight key steps public sector teams should take to deal with the changes local authorities are having to make. His suggestions include unifying public sector communications teams, making greater use of social media and using the function to generate income.
He says: “The message boils down to two key themes: cut or innovate. Frankly, the more people shout about the cuts, the easier it should be to explain the reasons to innovate. As the old saying goes: if we do not change, we die!”
Andy Gray’s sacking today after another of his puerile outbursts (this time to colleague Charlotte Jackson last month, above) has taught him a harsh lesson. Someone of his experience should know that ‘private’ (as in off air) comments are still fair game if someone within earshot finds them offensive enough to share with the media. In fact, if you utter them in a room full of people, it isn’t very ‘private’ at all, and therefore probably best kept to yourself.