Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Journalists - what makes us special

My mad February schedule meant that I missed the Thanksgiving Service at St Bride’s Church in Fleet Street to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Journalists' Charity. Those who were there, though, have never stopped telling me what I missed and what an inspirational morning it was. So this week, I finally caught up with the readings that were delivered on the day. If you are a journalist, and even if you aren’t, you should read them all. It is stirring stuff. 

Alex Crawford give her address at the service. Paul Cutcliffe

The address was given by Sky’s Alex Crawford who nicely summed up the essence of a journalist:
"We journalists are all different, a very different community of individuals, with different DNA to much of humankind. We’re designed to challenge, to push, to dig, to question, to irritate, to run TOWARDS danger and confrontation rather than away from it – and, when we’re not tearing each other apart limb from limb, we do have fun together."
I would encourage you, particularly if you're a young journalist starting out, to read her full address here.

Daily Mail editor-in-chief Paul Dacre gave a reading from Vincent Mulchrone’s What makes us special.
"If, in the panic, you can find the words to convey the blood and sweat of the revolt in Oojiboo, and (which is frequently more difficult) get them back to a sub-editor worried about his train home, then you are a reporter, and the happiest animal on earth."  
It is in this piece that Mulchrone was the first to recognise that: "The news story must be the only human activity which demands that the orgasm comes at the beginning.” 

Trinity Mirror chief executive Simon Fox read from Keith Waterhouse’s Streets Ahead memoir on joining Fleet Street for the first time.
… the smell of printers’ ink and metal was at this hour as stale on the air as last night’s beer, there was nevertheless a stirring, a frisson, the first buzz of that excitement that always mounted throughout the day until it came to a climax with a fleet of predominately yellow vans pulling out of Shoe Lane and Bouverie Street and Carmelite Street and Tudor Street and Fetter Lane and heading like a wagon train for the mainline stations.

The editor of The Sun, David Dinsmore, read the Greatest Company in the World by the late Mirror columnist Cassandra.
"You can get used to the noise but I’ve never got used to the people. The lovely nuts. The gorgeous crackpots. And all those wonderful, generous, self-derisive folk who spend their lives making dirty great black marks on miles and miles of white paper. Newspaper people are the greatest company in the world."

Telegraph Media Group chief executive, Murdoch MacLennan, read 70 years as a journalist by W.F. Deedes, in which he recalls his first day at the Morning Post.
“Go and watch the crowds in Downing Street,” they told me. “Don’t write anything, old boy, just useful experience.” So it was. I had never reported anything in my life. Why was I there? The Morning Post, feeling its age, had decided to recruit a few young reporters. I was among them."

The actor Simon Callow also read a speech by Charles Dickens, proposing a toast to the Newspaper Press Fund, the forerunner of the Journalists' Charity, back in 1865.

It is clear that I should have made time to attend. But reading the extracts has been the next best thing. I recommend you do the same - and remind yourselves why you do what you do. 

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