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July 23 2010

10:39

Death knock blogger Chris Wheal speaks on Today programme

Chris Wheal, a journalist who recently blogged about his family’s experience of the press following the death of his nephew, spoke more about the issue on the Today programme this morning.

Wheal spoke about his personal understanding of the journalists’ need to get their own story, but felt that rules need to be stronger to stop families feeling harassed.

As a journalist I understand the need to get a story and I understand from lots of comments on my blog that journalists have sometimes turned up and been welcomed by families in these circumstances who get a chance to grieve and are pleased that the papers are interested. But that’s not the case with my sister. They’re a very private family, they want to grieve in private. It feels like harassment although it’s not because it’s not the same journalist coming back again and again.

Presenter Evan Davies added that no family will ever be prepared for how to deal with the media in such a situation as nobody can forsee such a thing, but that they will face a “highly competitive industry”. Wheal responded that industry codes of conduct need to be strengthened.

The PCC code of conduct doesn’t really tackle it, “in cases involving personal grief or shock, enquiries and approaches must be made with sympathy and discretion and publication handled sensitively”. I think for someone like my sister who is not a publicity grabbing person and would shy away from the press in normal circumstances, there has to be actually a stronger pressure on the press to not do that.

The NUJ code of conduct is much stronger, stating journalists should “do nothing to intrude into anybody’s private life, grief or distress unless justified by overriding consideration of the public interest”. But even thought this story its interesting to the public, I understand that, it is not in the public interest. I think journalists sometimes harden themselves in order to go make those calls and knock on those doors, but sometimes by hardening ourselves we actually forget the impact of our actions on the poor people we are trying to interview.

Hear the full interview here…Similar Posts:



March 30 2010

11:53

#askthechancellors: How important was the digital audience in the UK Chancellor debate?

Last night I enjoyed lurking on the Twitter backchannel while watching Channel 4’s Ask the Chancellor debate – trivia mixed with observational insight.

I liked Evening Standard journalist Paul Waugh’s tweet about George Osborne’s ‘invisible pedal’ left-foot habit, as much as the economic 140-character analysis and Channel 4’s live poll via tweets, as the Chancellor hopefuls and incumbent fought it out (Vince Cable was the eventual winner, with 36 per cent; leaving Osborne and Darling with 32 per cent each).

Twitter also gave us an insight into the Channel 4/BBC political debate rivalry – spotted in tweets between Channel 4’s Faisal Islam and Radio 4’s Evan Davis. This, from Islam, for example:

amused by @r4today s licence-fee funded sniffiness about #askthechancellors Obviously nowt to do with this: http://bit.ly/aoc4MH

Probably worth noting this too, spotted via @the_mediablog:

RT @DominicFarrell: Those who will decide the #election were watching Coronation Street #askthechancellors

That was a sentiment supported by this morning’s TV stats: Brand Republic reports that Ask the Chancellors peaked at 2.1 million, while 9 million watched Eastenders.

So how important was this backchannel and the digital audience? That was the question Jim Naughtie posed to POLIS director Charlie Beckett on this morning’s BBC Radio 4 Today programme (audio at this link). Beckett said:

I think the real winner (…) despite some of the media cynicism, was in a sense ‘democracy’. I detected a lot of people who were quite pleased to hear a lengthy debate in detail, in public, by these people.

Beckett elaborates here, on his blog:

It all makes for much richer, multi-layered reportage. The TV debate alone would have been worth it. But the fact that tens of thousands of people were taking part reminds us that citizens do care about politics. And they want to be part of reporting the debate as it happens.

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November 25 2009

12:44

Evan Davis ponders micropayments for the BBC at Coventry event

On the day that he was honoured by Coventry University for his services to financial journalism, Evan Davis, presenter of the BBC Radio 4 Today programme and Dragons Den, spoke about his career in journalism and about the state of the industry at a special graduation week Coventry Conversation.

Discussing the issue of paid content, one which has been in the news recently after comments made by Rupert Murdoch concerning the online indexing of News International’s content, Davis proposed that the BBC could start charging for content with a micropayment structure.

“The BBC could charge for its web pages, a penny a page, and it should take all revenues thereby derived and just give them back in a reduction in the license fee the following year.” He stressed this was just an idea and that he wasn’t necessarily advocating its use.

Davis was criticised for his overly-soft interviewing style after joining the Today programme last year. He spoke about receiving ‘emails of lots of colours’ from the show’s audience and admitted to ‘reading emails everyday, and getting more and more depressed by how many people hated me’.

In response, Davis stressed the need for entertainment, claiming that the audience don’t want to hear an entirely ‘grown up interview’.

“I genuinely, genuinely don’t think I’ve done a good interview if I have snared them or caught them out,” said Davis.

“I think there are occasions when making them look stupid is a public service, but I think they are fairly rare occasions. I think most importantly is to make sure if they have something to say that they are given the chance to say it.”

Discussing his own journalistic style, Davis stressed that there is no one particular style that makes a good journalist. He also reiterated one piece of advice he said had stuck with him throughout his career: “If anyone tells you that comment is free and facts are sacred, they’ve got it the wrong way around.”

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