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Forty - The XCity Anniversary Supplement -

The Ruby Reunion

Hollywood Hacks

Goodbye Google. Hello Tipp-Ex?

Drinking with City’s pioneering graduates

Critics’ favourite on-screen journalists

A millenial writes like it’s 1976


“

For anyone who has worked in radio, looking at this is like watching your life flash before your eyes. This young lady is spooling up. It used to be an utterly physical process. The worst thing that could happen was if the sticky tape holding your cuts together came off and your work would literally fall apart in front of your eyes. We used to stick the cuts up on the wall with clothes pegs in case we wanted to use them later. You had to be careful with the razors because if you got blood on your reel it could really mess with your audio.

�

Professor Lis Howell, Director of Broadcasting


Contents From the editor... My generation has grown up at a time when the lessons of our forebears can seem to have no relevance in the ultra-digitised now. We’re accustomed to the fast clip of a 24-hour news cycle. It’s exciting and, equally, disheartening. It creates an environment in which technology and ideas are supplanted before they can incubate. So creating this supplement for the 40th anniversary of the journalism department was a lesson in legacy. It was a scavenger hunt of archival photographs and scanners, coming face-to-face with typewriters and telephone booths (p16) and learning the origins of the term “to spike” (p10). We took on yesteryear’s technology and, somehow, prevailed. But more importantly, we met the journalists who laid the foundation for our studies and (hopefully) our careers. We spoke to lecturers and alumni about their experiences and opinions amid an uncertain media landscape. We peeked back to a time when the university caught fire (p9) and shorthand was fundamental (p6) and gathered indispensable advice like “never punch your colleague” (p18). We also looked forward – to a future of virtual reality and robo-reporters (p14, 19). Many of you lamented a lost golden age of journalism, but we think there is room for a platinum era that pools a plethora of tools, old and new. We extend a warm thank you to the lecturers and alumni who answered countless queries and to City University London archive, for providing photographs and helping us with our research. We hope you enjoy this nostalgic and pocket-sized XCity supplement.

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A timeline of journalism at City

06

The Ruby Reunion

10

The Journalist’s Toolkit

12

Hollywood Hacks

14

A Brave New World

16

Stepping back from the Mac

18

Fire, fees and flashy facilities

We grab a drink with City’s first graduates

From cigs and spikes, to coffee and ear mics

Critics pick their top cinematic hacks

City alumni look to the future of journalism

Ben Allen tries his hand at retro reporting

Don’t ever punch your colleague Dermot Murnaghan advises his younger self

The team looking handsome in Northampton Square

EDITOR Camilla Sterne @camilla_sterne ART EDITOR Tori Halman @victoriahalman

DEPUTY EDITOR Ben Allen @benallenwf

PRODUCTION EDITOR Johnny Crisp @John_E_Crisp PUBLISHER Barbara Rowlands @b_rowlands

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SUB-EDITOR Moya Crockett @moyaroc DESIGN TUTOR Malvin Van Gelderen www.idesigntrainer.com


40 Years of Journalism at City Words by Carolyn Wickware Kemi Alemoru Design concept by Romany Rowell

The journalism department opens its doors to 13 students for a diploma. Tom Welsh is City’s first director.

The Graduate Centre for Journalism is founded.

Lecturer Henry Clother instructs his students.

1981

1982

+ Diploma in Radio Journalism + International starts with just and Periodical five students. Diplomas start.

1983

John Dodge is the department’s first professor of journalism.

+ Journalism Postgraduate Diploma (PGDip) is launched.

1986

Sixty typewriters get thrown out in favour of Amstrad PCWs. Prof Hugh Stephenson becomes head of the Graduate Centre for Journalism.

Staff members

2016

2001

Fire breaks out in the College Building, closing portions of it for two years and causing £10m in damage. CNN incorrectly reports that it destroyed the journalism department.

2006 2003 2004 2008 2005 + The department’s Broadcast Journalism PgDip is launched.

+ Periodical Diploma becomes Magazine Diploma.

Prof Adrian Monck takes over as head of journalism.

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+ Erasmus Mundus Journalism, Media and Globalisation PgDip begin.

+ MA in Investigative Journalism is launched.

Credit: City University London archives, Sarah Lee/ The Guardian

1976

1984 1986


Equipment available to students

Fees 1977

1983

2016

1986

2016

£750 £1,550 £9,875

1987

An early iteration of XCity is born with the title of Newsletter, published using Amstrads, a few IBMs, the Ventura Publisher package and a laser printer.

Credit: City University London alumni department, courtesy of City University

The Graduate Centre for Journalism is given departmental status.

100% Typewriters

1996

1988 Department reaches

100 graduates.

+ Broadcast Diploma is launched.

54% Macs

Prof Hugh Stephenson leaves after 10 years. Professor Rod Allen takes the helm. Journalism at City celebrates 20 years with wine, food and “no speeches”.

1991

The Journalism and Social Science BAs (Hons) accept their first students.

46% PCs

2000 1997 + PgDip in Electronic Publishing is launched.

The BA in Journalism and Contemporary History delivered jointly with Queen Mary University of London starts with 20 students.

2009

£12m journalism wing opens in the College Building with a TV studio, four radio studios and five newsrooms with 78 Macs and 67 PCs. Prof George Brock, managing editor of The Times, replaces Adrian Monck as head of journalism. + Science Journalism MA launched.

2010 + Political Journalism and Financial Journalism MAs begin accepting students.

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism opens at City.

2011 2014 + MA in Interactive Journalism is launched, led by newspaper course director Jonathan Hewett.

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The department spends £450,000 on new television facilities, including a high-definition green screen studio.

2016 Prof Suzanne Franks (above) to take over as head of journalism from Prof Michael Bromley, who has been interim head since 2015. Department has 523 enrolled students.

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The Ruby Reunion

Credit: courtesy of Terry Dignan

Camilla Sterne joins the annual reunion of City’s first journalism class 40 years after they graduated

The original group of graduates take a trip to County Hall, which housed London’s administration and local government. From left: Tom Welsh (with back to camera), Jacky Law, press officer, Peter Kendall, Terry Dignan, Sarah Hawksworth and Steve Howell.

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ine members of the “famous class of ‘76” sit shoulder-to-shoulder around a table in Le Mercury, a French restaurant in Islington. They are graduates from the first class ever to receive journalism diplomas from City after their tutor Tom Welsh established the programme in 1976. The rare slant of afternoon sun catches the wine and olive oil bottles on shelves and tables, refracting onto the yellow and blue walls as the group chatters over the glug of wine, chink of glasses and the clink of cutlery. They’ve chosen to reunite at Le Mercury out of regard for tradition. The café is around the corner from Welsh’s former flat, where they often met throughout the 40 years since graduating. A few of the 13 classmates couldn’t attend, but the most notable omission is Welsh, who died in April 2014 at the age of 85. “We might never have met again without Tom,” says Jon Slattery, former deputy editor of the Press Gazette, reminding the group that it was the fatherly Welsh who orchestrated their yearly reunions. “He was our teacher, our guru, our friend,” says Sarah Bayliss, formerly of the Times Educational Supplement and an education journalist. Welsh edited 13 editions of McNae’s Essential Law for Journalists – still a set text on all media law courses

today – and left City two years after launching the course to edit the North West Evening Mail at Barrow-inFurness, Cumbria. “He thought journalism was essential to a liberal democracy,” says Terry Dignan, formerly of the BBC and host of the Radio show Westminster Hour. “He was all about challenging the establishment.” Welsh remained in close contact with the first City graduates, whom he lovingly nicknamed “the famous class of ‘76” (though they graduated in 1977). He is at the heart of their reminiscence on this sun-flecked Friday in Islington.

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ike all good journalists before them, the ‘76 alumni seem adamant to convince me that the glory days of journalism are over. “I feel really sorry for people going into the profession today if they can’t have the fun that I had when I was doing it,” says Dignan. “Because we played!” They are brimful with stories of “the real old days of Fleet Street”, rubbing elbows with sources, smoking in lectures (long before the university went smoke-free in 1993) and an infamous and slimy court reporter who “lived and breathed crime reporting.” When they weren’t crammed into the one-room journalism department, studying Teeline shorthand

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and media law or experimenting for a brief stint with Information Science – “absolute rubbish” – they were out on the streets and in the courts. “With Tom, we were out a lot in real places meeting real people,” says Bayliss. “I suppose for us it was a golden age, but who knows. It is different now. We got stories by meeting people. But it’s just about being passionate about what people have to tell you.” They see shorthand as one of the most valuable tools they gained at City. They fondly remember their Teeline tutor Harry Butler, who as Law says, “loved something as dull as shorthand with such a curious passion”, and they look concerned to hear that shorthand is now optional for some courses. A favourite memory centres around a group visit to The Sunday Times, where they met editor Harold Evans who remained at The Sunday Times until 1981. The visit made the front page of the UK Press Gazette on October 25, 1976. The Gazette reported on the visit: “Mr Evans said [that] a mere desire to write creatively was by no means a good reason for anyone to become a journalist. What mattered was a willingness to go out and look for hard facts and to work diligently in following up a story.” Jacky Law, healthcare reporter and author of an award-winning exposé on the pharmaceutical industry called Big Pharma, remembers Evans’ charisma and the way he treated the tea lady with the utmost respect during their visit. The visit to The Sunday Times gave

them something to aspire to as young journalists. They saw the paper as the pinnacle of good journalism, part of the journalistic ethos of Welsh and Evans that valued freedom of speech and finding out “what the hell the establishment was up to”. “For us, to be wafted into The Sunday Times with Harry Evans was quite something,” says Patrick Smith, editor of Africa Confidential. “And for him to actually say, ‘Yeah sure, I’ll spare you half an hour. I’ll get these students in.’” But their jaunts across London weren’t always of the utmost triumph and prestige. The group recounts a visit to a long and tedious Islington Council meeting. They stuck it out for an hour and a half before calling it quits and heading to the pub. “Imagine our shock when we opened the Evening Standard the next day to discover there had been a massive punch up at the end of the evening, which we’d missed,” says Peter Kendall, who now works as a senior interim consultant. “So the lesson to all journalists is: don’t go to the pub until the end of the meeting, because you might miss the really big story.” >>

“We were out a lot in real places meeting real people”

Credit: Camilla Sterne

Graduates listed in red attended the 2016 reunion.

Jon Slattery and Jacky Law reminiscing at the 2016 reunion on Upper Street.

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Members of the “Class of 1976” Sarah Bayliss education journalist, formerly of the Times Educational Supplement and The Teaching Awards Terry Dignan reporter, editor, BBC Radio 4 Nigel Dudley consultant, Camel Publishing Steve Howell psychotherapist Peter Kendall senior interim consultant and former executive communications director in the railway industry Jacky Law author, Big Pharma; managing editor, Pharmaphorum Media Sue Landau freelance copywriter Mark Newham freelance (The Economist, The Sunday Times); Xinhua News Agency; author Francesca Robinson freelance medical journalist Jon Slattery freelance media journalist (InJournalism, The Guardian, Press Gazette, The Journalist) Patrick Smith editor, Africa Confidential Steve Williams reporter, Brighton & Hove Express Robin Wills psychiatric social worker, Tower Hamlets Council; freelance (BBC World Service)


O

ver the course of the five-hour reunion, the wine flows from bottle to glass to belly to cheeks. By the end of the evening the group has decided to meet next year – this time in Paris, where their classmate Sue Landau lives. Their nostalgia is celebratory. They are unique in having come to journalism on the brink of the computerised revolution, which irrevocably altered the practice, its methods and its milieu. While the majority think the heyday of journalism has come and gone, others seem more hopeful. “Journalism can still be heroic,” says Slattery. “It’s not all clickbait and cynicism.” Slattery’s blend of scepticism and hope seems an echo of Welsh’s pioneering spirit – a spirit that laid the foundation for a 40-year-strong institution that has seen the matriculation of 6,984 alumni from all over the world. “We grew up as journalists with Tom,” says Bayliss. “It would have been nice to see him here today,” says Slattery with a sigh.

The pub is a common thread in their anecdotes, as is the smoke-filled pandemonium of old newsrooms. “One of the differences with journalism today is the silent computerised space,” says Kendall. “When we did it, there were clouds of smoke and stale aromas.” “Some of us do not feel nostalgic about that,” laughs Robin Wills, who has worked on the BBC World Service and now is a practising psychiatric social worker. “What would you prefer, a news editor who smoked and was content or who was not allowed to smoke and became a psychopath?” says Dignan. “There is a distinct lack of banter,” says Smith, echoing others’ unease with the hushed modern newsroom. “What is being in a newsroom all about if there’s no banter?” And though the class of 1976 are a banterous bunch, they are equally well-armed with valuable and enduring do’s and don’ts of the profession. “The best journalists are the drunkest journalists,” jokes Smith, with perhaps a hint of sincerity.

“Journalism can still be heroic”

Credit: Camilla Sterne/Terry Kendall

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Bottom: Peter Kendall; Sarah Bayliss at Le Mercury in Islington. Top right: The class shares a meal with Tom Welsh in 2009.

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London’s Burning... Credit: Sarah Lee/The Guardian

City University

Anna McKane, former head of undergraduate journalism, recalls the day fire struck City University on 21 May 2001.

The day before, I’d set my newspaper students a running story task about a fictional fire in a store on Oxford Street. Can you believe it? On the evening of the fire, at around 9pm, a student rang me and said, ‘Anna, fire is sweeping City!’ I said, ‘Oh pull the other one’ and she said, ‘No, really!’ I rushed to see it immediately. It was unbelievable. Even at Exmouth Market you could see flames right up in the sky from behind the buildings. It was an extraordinary sight: the firefighters, the fire engines, the flames leaping in the air. When the fire took hold of the wooden beams on the roof it went off like a rocket. The building looked like a bonfire. There were a lot of people watching: I met some students outside and we marvelled at it together. It sounds awful, but a fire is exciting to witness. Let’s face it, my students studied journalism and there’s a great story in a fire!

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As told to Tori Halman


Then: 1976 Your press card was the respected and necessary passport to hot news and nice perks. Without press union membership your copy could be “blacked”.

In the time it took to dial this bad boy, you could smoke a cigarette, take a shot and volley a few lines of banter.

Pages divided and filled with scrupulous Teeline shorthand notes describing oddball sources.

Google Advanced Search, circa 1976. Bottled inspiration… and occasionally the cause of a botched interview or “stolen” notebook.

When paper was key, the clip was king. No stapling allowed.

20 (or more) for every barely-met deadline.

This trusty steed had no delete key to save you when you fell off. Desks littered with used Tipp-ex papers. The final resting place for truly atrocious copy – and the origin of the phrase “to spike”. Cruel, yet satisfying.

Still profitable.

The Journalist’s 10

Words by Camilla Sterne Illustrations by Alex Rowe


Now: 2016 To drown out the sound of other people drowning out the sound of you listening to a Radio 4 podcast.

Ticket to glitzy events and free snacks. Nice, but not as necessary as it once was.

A portable and versatile mainstay of modern journalism – complete with a glowing emblem of consumerism. This magical interview capturer is the scourge of shorthand.

This overpriced, nocturnalityinducing stimulant helps you keep up with the 24-hour news cycle.

Portable filing cabinet. Multimedia!

The ear mic is the dictaphone’s indispensable sidekick – the Samwise Gamgee to its Frodo.

Toolkit

Social media machine. Occasional source of thumb aches and phone phobia.

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Dead wood, but a necessary tool. A dictaphone can’t capture colour. You have evolved to sniff out a socket for this lifeline from up to 20 metres away.


Hollywood After Spotlight won an Oscar for its portrayal of hard-nosed investigative journalism, Ben Allen and Adam Chapman asked film critic alumni: Who are your favourite on-screen journos?

Nicholas Barber (Periodical, 1994) Film critic, BBC Culture, Intelligent Life, The Economist, The Guardian, The Independent on Sunday

Spotlight,

Almost Famous,

2015 (dir. Tom McCarthy)

2000 (dir. Cameron Crowe)

The true story of the Boston Globe’s team of investigative journalists who exposed the cover-up of mass child molestation in Boston’s Catholic Church.

Crowe chronicles the escapades of 15-year-old William Miller, a young music journalist hired by Rolling Stone magazine to tour with an up-and-coming rock band.

“I’m not a huge fan of Spotlight, but I do respect how accurately it depicts unglamorous newsroom drudgery: the searching through files, the knocking on doors. It’s also an elegy for a time gone by. How many papers today have the resources to put a four-person team on one story for months on end?”

“Being a former rock critic, I recognised some of William’s experiences. That is, I’ve been on a band’s tour bus – the band in question was Reef – and I’ve had the dangerous delusion, pinpointed by Crowe, that these talented hedonists might be my new best friends. I never saw them again.”

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Hacks

David Jenkins (Magazine, 2005) Editor, Little White Lies

Park Row,

1952 (dir. Samuel Fuller) Gene Evans plays Phineas Mitchell, editor of The Globe, in Sam Fuller’s depiction of the early days of print media and press freedom in 1880s New York. “I like his gusto, his morals and his dedication to printing the truth at all costs. He’s a newspaperman who often comes to physical blows when it comes to securing stories and getting the jump on rivals, which is exciting to watch considering that kind of business would probably occur as web comments or tweets these days.” Credit: Kerry Hayes / Distributor: Open Road Films

Zodiac,

2007 (dir. David Fincher) Fincher adapts Robert Graysmith’s non-fiction book about a political cartoonist as he tries to track down a serial killer in San Francisco during the 70s and 80s. “Graysmith isn’t a journalist in the traditional sense, just a man who uses his privileged position to explore the particulars of a case that he thinks he can crack. Although the film is about the fluid nature of truth, it’s also a reminder that investigative journalism – when done properly – can and should deliver brushes with death.”

Ali Plumb (Magazine, 2009) Film critic, BBC Radio 1

Sweet Smell of Success,

Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas,

1956 (dir. Alexander Mackendrick)

1992 (dir. Terry Gilliam)

One of director Alexander Mackendrick’s finest is this tale of a renowned newspaper columnist who uses his power to sabotage his sister’s relationship.

Raoul Duke (Johnny Depp) is in Las Vegas to report on the Mint 400 motorcycle race, but he finds more material in a psychedelic haze.

“Deliciously dark villain JJ Hunsecker, directed by Ealing Studios legend Alexander Mackendrick, lets Burt Lancaster cast a gorgeous shadow. A syndicated gossip columnist in the 1950s, Hunsecker is seemingly all-powerful, and it’s a twisted joy to see Tony Curtis take him down.”

“As Hunter S Thompson’s author surrogate, Raoul Duke’s mission is to say what Thompson couldn’t himself, be it ‘We can’t stop here, this is bat country’ or ‘Look, there’s two women fucking a polar bear!’ – and explain just what it feels like when the drugs take hold.”

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A Brave New World How will journalism change in the next 40 years? We spoke to City alumni Barry McIlheney, Kirsty Lang and Jeremy Evans to find out Words by Adam Chapman and Hiba Mahamadi

Barry McIlheney (Newspaper, 1984)

Is citizen journalism democratising the industry? It is good for democracy but not journalism. I don’t necessarily miss the days when a critic would pontificate from on high, and it is interesting now to hear what people think. But it’s not journalism any more than somebody on TripAdvisor telling you their hotel room is a bit small. That is just somebody’s opinion and we’ve all got one.

McIlheney is chief executive of the Professional Publishers Association. He worked as executive director at FHM and launched Heat and Zoo. Where do you see print in 40 years? I think print will always have a role to play. The printed version of a magazine is incredibly special, particularly for glossy magazines. For us it’s quite exciting because print is holding up the market really well. You’ve got digital editions, you’ve got events, you’ve got social.

Will people continue to pay for content through print or online? People forget that every month 200,000 people pay £4.20 to buy a copy of Vogue, and there is a world of difference between that and clicking on a picture of a kitten for 10 seconds. It’s free but it’s not engagement. Content is a different world from millions of people spending a nanosecond looking at a skating dog.

There are more people pinching our content than ever before and in 40 years’ time I suspect that will only grow. Will more people be consuming content in print? Probably not. Will more people be consuming it on a screen yet to be invented? Probably. Will they be consuming it on a chip that is going to be inserted into your brain? Possibly.

Jeremy Evans (Broadcast, 2013)

Where do you think the money for journalism is going to come from 40 years from now? There are lots of different models. Some are lucky to have private owners with a lot of money. Some, like The Guardian, are lucky to be essentially a charity. Some people are generating a lot of money through native advertising, through paywalls on subscription models and through old-fashioned cover prices.

Evans founded Explaain in 2014. It is an interactive app that breaks news into snappy and straightforward content. He teaches on City’s International Journalism MA and was listed in Forbes’ 30 under 30 Europe Media Class in January 2016. In 40 years, will people still pay for news? Now that we don’t have to pay to get news I don’t think this will be reversed. There are other ways of making money apart from paywalls and selling your content directly to the readers. The main way this will happen is by microtargeting, like on Facebook, where users are sent advertisements based on their individual preferences and what they’ve viewed before.

We are a clever, innovative bunch and I am confident that we will find a way. As long as we produce content that makes people want to spend time on it then it matters less to me what particular format that’s in.

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Credit: Noun Project/M C Venegas, Andrew Matttews/Press Association

Will digital content begin to outweigh print content over time? People get obsessed with this either/or, print v digital. It’s print and digital, events and data, and so on. Every day, I spend 20 minutes reading the paper on the bus and 15 minutes on my phone looking at Twitter.


Kirsty Lang (Newspaper, 1985)

Will print be dead 40 years from now? I think more or less. The Independent is being smart by going digital-only now. The ease of access and the experience of reading news on a device is only going to get better. I think people will pay for specialist news and magazines will no longer be part of the mainstream.

Lang has worked as a foreign correspondent for the BBC in Eastern Europe, reporting on the 1989 revolutions and the wars in former Yugoslavia. She presents on BBC Radio 4’s arts and culture programme, Front Row.

What role will virtual reality play? I think virtual reality will be a big part of journalism, specifically when a journalist produces an immersive feature that readers can really get stuck into. Articles will have more media elements and documentaries will have more interactive elements. Even now it’s really easy to cheaply experience virtual reality. Google Cardboard is a virtual reality accessory that you can add to your phone, and it’s just 10 or 20 quid. In the future there will be a completely new interface for how we access our information.

When you started out as a journalist, did you think radio would have enduring appeal? Not at all, it’s extraordinary that radio is doing so well. Our listenership across the week is around two million people. I think podcasting in general has become popular with the arrival of the smartphone. It allows people to listen while they do other things such as travelling to and from work. Are there any traditional journalism practices that have become obsolete? When I first started radio I was literally cutting bits of tape. Now I can film something broadcast quality on my iPhone. The change is unimaginable. Television and film have become far more democratic. Because everything has become easier, anyone can go out and make a perfectly good short film.

How will the role of the journalist evolve? In 40 years, I don’t think there will be enough money to pay journalists to go down to the courtroom just to get some quotes. That can be automated. The place for journalists will be in analysing that information. Right now we’ve got a huge information overload but the average consumer doesn’t want to spend time sifting through those facts.

Will print still be revelevant in 40 years? I think so, but in order for it to survive we will have to be more inventive. My husband wrote a book about cyber crime which didn’t sell many copies, but unexpectedly he has since found a whole new income stream giving live talks about it. What he gets paid for is live performance. One of his books is also being made into a drama series and quite a few former colleagues have turned real life stories into film and television scripts. When thinking how journalism might make money, we have to think outside the box.

Credit: Jeremy Evans. Kirsty Lang

How do you envision this automation of news? When someone says something in a courtroom or Parliament, for example, the whole speech will be automatically transmitted to newsrooms that subscribe to them rather than journalists going there to take notes. I think there will be a general trend towards breaking up data through automated processes and sending it to journalists without any human intervention.

Is citizen journalism democratising the industry? I am quite cynical about this and don’t think it’s becoming more democratic. There’s a very worrying divide that is opening up whereby large corporations, banks and hedge funds actually fund their own newsgathering operations. On the other hand, people want everything for free and are not prepared to pay for content. We have a situation where the very wealthy and powerful have access to information that the rest of us don’t have.

What does this mean for longform journalism? Many people are talking about how robots will be writing articles soon but I think we will eventually see the decline of the article itself. We will be consuming information in very small chunks of content, like a quote, a statistic or a profile. What, if anything, will stay the same? Investigative journalism, because access to information will, in general, be much easier. The skills that investigative journalists need – the drive and skeptical mindset needed to pursue a story – will remain the same. I don’t think these skills can be replaced by technology.

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The past is a foreign country Reporters did things differently in the good old days – but for better or worse? Ben Allen ditches his smartphone to research a feature 1970s-style

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A letter to my younger self Sky News anchor and City alumni Dermot Murnaghan (Newspaper, 1984) on first jobs, terrible dancing and avoiding arrest

Firstly, don’t EVER punch a colleague. You may want to one day, but a certain TV presenter will do this in the future – and it will not go down well. You’re also going to be arrested, but try not to worry about that at the moment… It’s 1983; you’re 25 years old and about to start your career. I bet you won’t believe me if I tell you that one day you’ll be working at some of the most successful news channels in the world. You’ve just started your journalism course at City, so I take it you’re feeling a little intimidated. Stop worrying. You might not have as much experience as others, but you’re at City because they’ve seen something in you. Remember how you always used to beg mum and dad to let you watch the News At Ten? That should have been your first clue. Or that essay you wrote about the Egyptian-Israeli conflict when you were nine? That interest in current affairs will never go away. You will one day realise that every journalist has a fundamental set of skills that can only be polished through different experiences. Soon, you’ll spend your Christmas holidays at the Coventry Evening Telegraph. They’ll give you your first job, something you’ll always be grateful for. The only problem is, there are only so many stories you can write about Lucky the cat getting stuck up a tree or being accidentally put through a washing machine. You will regularly stand at your editor’s desk asking for something more, but all you’ll get is cats. Four months in, it won’t be enough. When you’re offered a job at Channel 4, you’ll have to break your 18-month contract at the Telegraph. Your editor will tell you you’ll never work in Coventry again – please try not

to be too sarcastic in your reply, but know you’re making the right decision by leaving. Channel 4 will be the start of your broadcast career. Relish every moment. They’ll teach you everything you know. You’ll make lots of mistakes; things will go wrong live on air. It comes with the job. You’ll want to punch your producer – you won’t, of course – but he’s going to tear apart 50 pages of your work in front of your face! So be ready for that. Be patient. Over the next 15 years you’re going to move around. ITN – yep, 30 years later and it will be you presenting the News at Ten. The BBC Breakfast show will follow and eventually, Sky News. You’ll be arrested – in Thessaloniki. While trying to interview the local bad guy, you’ll be sent to a Greek prison on fabricated charges. It will be very James Bond and you’ll escape by jumping out of the car at a traffic light. Sounds dramatic, doesn’t it? It will be. Trust your instincts. I’m running out of time, but one thing I can tell you about your future self: you’ll never get any better at dancing. Which is why the BBC will be keen to get you on a future TV show where celebrities partner up with professionals and learn to tango. Don’t worry – the future you doesn’t plan on accepting this offer any time soon. See you soon,

As told to Lucy Devine

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Credit: Ian West/ Press Association

Dear Dermot,


issue e next

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of For

In th

ty’s i s r e v ni ! City Us of 2056 Clas

The reporter’s Tinder

Your own PA

Patch Day is a breeze. Nowy Connect’s new app allows reporters to define the kind of sources they’d like to meet and suggests people nearby that fit the description. Rather than accosting the local florist for stories every Thursday, the sources will come to you, with a notification if someone newsworthy walks by.

Innovation and research company Stylus predicts that everything from transcriptions to booking cabs will be done by a virtual PA. “Truth Goggles” are already weeding out untruths on web pages. Think meetings arranged, expenses sorted and lunch booked for that big interview.

Free to out-scoop everyone

Bots and algorithms

Digital developments will free up journalists to seek out the hottest stories, says Robert McKenzie, editor of BBC News Labs. “It will be the people who program those machines and those who go beyond what machines can deliver who will be sought out and followed closely,” he says. “People will still love an oldfashioned scoop.”

Algorithms can decide which are the hot stories and when to publish them. Amy Webb, founder of Webbmedia Group, says, “Possible versions will be generated automatically so that the news experience is responsive to each consumer.”

Multiplatform storytelling

Technology will be more integrated. Start a story on a mobile and your smart-watch might join in, relevant facts popping up on your wrist as you watch a video, says Nick Petrie, deputy head of digital at The Times: “The logical next step is thinking how to best tell this story on this device.”

Illustrations by Alex Rowe

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Words by Harriet Brown


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