March 7, 2013 by Colin Kelly
A trip to London and a great catch up with a good friend. She gave me a quick tour of her workplace at Channel 4 News. My first visit to a newsroom in quite a while.
Standing there, it all came flooding back and I understood again why, no matter how much training, PR or technology related stuff I do, I’ll always consider myself a journalist at heart.
When you watch the true greats up close you realise it’s an absolute vocation and a passion for them. Nothing to do with viewing figures, salaries, job titles or what’s fashionable. It’s about finding stuff out and telling stories. And the best do it all the time, with a burning passion and healthy disregard for any consequences.
It is, quite simply, who they are.
I shook the hand of Alex Thomson, Chief Correspondent at Channel 4 News who’s attracting quite a bit of attention because of his recent work around how a section of the media covers a particular aspect of Scottish football.
But there’s much more to his work than that. This is a guy – an extremely experienced correspondent – who totally gets social media and uses it to devastating effect.
His stories take on a life and have an impact far beyond the television broadcast. They live and breathe online through blogs, tweets and interaction with viewers. If you don’t understand an aspect of the report who better to ask than the man who put it together?!
And it’s not just Alex, this is happening throughout Channel 4 News with reporters young and old building a true 24/7 multi media operation.
What I like about Alex’s approach is the way he combines what some might call old skool journalistic values with up to the minute social media. He makes the two sit extremely well together and has a style and a tone that could only ever be his own.
And because he ‘gets it’ why shouldn’t he call out those who don’t? The big companies, the decision makers who think they can hide behind walls of PR and ‘no comment’ and one line press release responses. This new social media landscape means news organisations like Channel 4 can open up the entire newsgathering process and there’s no hiding place.
That’s a very good thing and I love it. I’m biased of course but I really do think the broadcast journalists are far better equipped than their tabloid and broadsheet cousins to adapt to this digital age. They’re also more trusted, and I think, more interested in simply finding and telling the story than putting a spin on it and pursuing a particular agenda.
It’s also encouraging to note the way the senior Channel 4 journalists work alongside younger members of the team with them all learning from each other.
We hear so much about declining sales and audiences, the lack of investigative reporting and even fears for the future of journalism itself. Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in that.
From what I saw last night though, journalism in this country has a very bright future indeed.