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March 26, 2012 / Kirsty Pitkin

Leeds Trinity Journalism Week: Day One

  1. Jon Snow

    Channel 4 News
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    Big cheer for Jon Snow who kicks off #ltjw by saying we are entering golden age of journalism.
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  4. Snow provided a historical perspective by discussing the changes which have taken place throughout his career.  These involved not only changes in the technology involved, but also changes in attitudes towards sources for breaking stories.
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    Jon Snow’s news desk had to have two sources even when he got exclusive in Amin’s Uganda during hostage negotiations. #ltjw
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    Brilliant example of comms revolution – “imagine looking for a phone box in a foreign country”, that’s how it was #ltjw
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    @jonsnowC4 explaning how a telex machine used to work. Students are bewildered šŸ˜‰ #ltjw “We have come long way since then”
  8. The students were also treated to a number of stories from Snow’s long career, including his experiences of interviewing Margaret Thatcher and an incident when Harold Wilson failed to extinguish his pipe before putting it in his pocket prior to a press briefing…
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    You were dogmeat at end of interview with Thatcher, says Snow. He’s raised a laugh with his Iron Lady impression #LTJW
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    @jonsnowC4 says containing his emotions when Nelson Mandela left prison is one of the biggest challenges he’s had to overcome #ltjw
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    Great missed moments of history – “Prime Minister, your pocket’s on fire” – Jon on H. Wilson #ltjw
  12. Snow touched upon a number of current and future issues that today’s journalism students will need to consider.  He reflected on the need for regulation, stressing that he himself feels that he needs regulating.  He also discussed the new media technologies which are changing the way we do journalism. 
  13. Throughout his talk, Snow provided a lot of inspirational advice to the Leeds Trinity journalism students, including these top comments:
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    Nothing to beat doing and making sure you are as good as you be, if you want to get into news media. Tip from @jonsnowC4 #LTJW
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    Jon Snow- excellence is rewarded with money in time, we now have the platforms to gain wider interest like never before. #LTJW
  16. Read more about Jon Snow’s visit to Leeds Trinity:
  17. The live blog of the session can be found here:
  18. Harry Gration

    BBC Look North
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    The advice is “have your own style” to stand out as a journalist. #ltjw
  21. As a veteran of sport and local news in the north, Harry Gration also provided the students with a personal reflection on his career, echoing many of the general changes observed by Snow.  He told the students about his personal experience of the challenges of professional reporting with a story about the Valley Parade fire:
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    @harrylooknorth on covering fire at Valley Parade #ltjw “I bought a ticket for my uncle. I never saw him again”
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    RT @janwinter: Harry Gration speaks movingly about losing his uncle in fire at Valley Parade and trying to report professionally #ltjw #bcafc
  24. He also gave an example of the techniques required to work in broadcast journalism.  To illustrate this he played a video of an interview he conducted with a council official from York Council.
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    Watching @harrylooknorth keep York council exec well off balance. Interrogation a hard skill to teach #ltjw
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    York PR now on video perfect example of how to stick to party line – not exactly answering Harry’s questions, is he? #ltjw
  27. Gration reflected on opportunities for journalism in the north, particularly following the BBC’s move to Salford…
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    @Harrylooknorth loves Yorkshire. Saw his stint working down south as ‘missionary work’. #ltjw
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    BBC’s move to Salford is exciting says @harrylooknorth “Use the opportunities” #ltjw
  30. Read more about Harry Gration’s visit to Leeds Trinity here:
  31. The live blog of the session can be found here:
  32. Mark Easton

    BBC Home Affairs Editor
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  34. Easton explained how his own career in journalism has developed, having never applied for a job in his career…
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    ‘my entire career has been a skydive!’ Mark Easton #ltjw
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    Feature on need for skateboard parks landed BBC’s Mark Easton first job with local paper. #rocknroll #ltjw
  37. He asked the students to justify why they want to be journalists.  You need to have a coherent reason to want to get into journalism.
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    “Holding to account the society around us.” Basic tenet of #journalism #ltjw
  39. He read several extracts from his forthcoming book Britain etc, which alphabetically explores elements of British life.  The extract from the chapter “A is for Alcohol” raised the most interest, focusing on the liquid lunch, whiskey-driven culture of Fleet Street in the 1980s.
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    Ink, paper…and large malt whiskey. Fleet Street in the Eighties #ltjw
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    But that world of whiskey at 11am is long gone – today journos are a law-abiding and sober lot #LTJW
  42. In reflecting on how the industry has changed, Easton discussed the 24-hour news culture:
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    “Just like I an get a soda or a sofa at 3am anywhere in the morning … so too can I find news” says @BBCMarkEaston #ltjw
  44. He moved on to discuss the value of statistics in modern journalism, providing examples of how this enabled him to find some of his best stories, particularly at a time when many politicians, judges and other authority figures didn’t believe it was possible to get the information necessary to back up the claims.  It is now much easier to get the data, so we should be using it and analysing it to find stories.
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    Mentioning responsibility of journalists to ‘numbers ‘ and accurately reporting science. Major black mark on our record. #ltjw
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    “Myth-busting now a big part of the journalist’s job. Truth is making a bit of a comeback” #ltjw
  47. Following his presentation, Easton offered an extended question and answer session, which led to a wide ranging discussion covering topics such as the Leveson enquiry, breaking the law, journalistic freedom and the importance of statistics in journalism.  Here are just some of the key messages that we took away from this discussion…
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    “there are going to be times when journalists frankly need to break the law” Ethical quandary of #leveson #ltjw
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    Where it’s necessary to break law to get story, there needs to be strict code to follow & should be open about secret filming #LTJW
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    RT @journochat: 99% of time we can get fantastically good stories without breaking the law – @BBCMarkEaston #LTJW
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    @croppersports Is the PCC a toothless watchdog? @BBCMarkEaston Yes. We need a regulator with more cojones. #ltjw #fightingtalk
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    Statistics are where it’s at. Source of Mark Easton’s best stories, he tells #ltjw. Get revising on maths and spreadsheets, y’all.
  53. The live blog of the session can be found here:
  54. Peter Salmon 

    Director BBC North
  55. Salmon provided the students with an overview of the issues and positive impacts of the BBC’s new MediaCity at Salford.
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    Peter Salmon: “Diversity of activites we cover will have positive spin-offs to around 16m people across the north” #ltjw
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    BBC development in Manchester is not North v South – it is north plus south; it is an addition #LTJW
  58. Salmon also reflected on the opportunities which exist within the BBC and the skills that the students need to develop if they want to take advantage of the new possibilities opened up in the north.
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    “never be a lazy journalist” Peter Salmon #ltjw
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    Technical skills & ability with kit are only part of what u need – getting life experience is just as important #LTJW
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    RT @AmyLund1: Second speaker today recommending travel and volunteering to aspiring journalists #LTJW
  62. The live blog of the session can be found here:
  63. James Ball

    The Guardian
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  65. Ball walked us through his last 24 hours working on a story to help illustrate how life works in your first few years in journalism, which included a release of a new cache of material from Wikileaks.  There were decisions to be made: the release occurred during the Oscars ceremony, so most of their audience were not going to be distracted from that.  The material was obtained illegally, so they had to justify publication.  They decided to do a holding story at 2am and reassess the situation.
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    More specifically, wikileaks released cache DURING Oscars. Intentional timing clash? #ltjw
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    Dilemma of dealing with material obtained via an illegal hack – does public interest justify it’s release #LTJW
  68. He emphasised that understanding numbers and understanding data will give you an edge that isn’t currently within the news room.  You need a reputation for getting things right.
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    In four or five years, explosion of demand for data journalists – “understanding numbers will give you edge not present in newsroom” #ltjw
  70. He described the Guardian’s concept of open journalism and reality checking.  He explained how this got him into trouble today after publishing a story about Scottish independence.  The comments on this initial post informed the piece as it went on through the day, and provided further sources so they can get good value out of the comments, not just a good discussion.
  71. Ball described the role of the community managers who spend the time in the comments section highlighting particular comments.  Again, these people got hired because they have skills that were not present in the news room.  He recommended that you have to find the aspects of journalism that excite you and find skills that other people don’t have.
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    The old essential skills – shorthand, interviewing, etc. – still matter, but they won’t be *enough*. Tech skills, social media, etc. #ltjw
  73. The Q&A ranged from discussion about Ball’s involvement with Wikileaks, the ethics involved in publishing material obtained by hacking, the approaches you need to take when looking at large quantities of such materials.  
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    Journalism is all about the grey areas – if you feel safe, you are probably doing something very comfortable #LTJW
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    Thanks @JournoWeekLIVE, response was definitely – there are grey areas, but NOTW’s rule breaking is very far to the ‘dark side’! #ltjw
  76. He also observed that many business journalists only ever read the press releases that come with company accounts, which you should never trust.  If you can learn to read the three pages of numbers that comprise public company accounts then you will have exclusive stories for the rest of your career.
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    “Ability to read and understand numbers in company reports – make you #journalist companies are afraid of!” #ltjw
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    @jamesrbuk speaking proudly of helping @jonsnowC4 spend 12 minutes of a 3 minute interview arguing with Zac Goldsmith. Youtube! #ltjw
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    To curb the excesses of tabloid journalism without affecting quality journalism is a fantasy #ltjw
  80. The live blog from this session is here:

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