Pay for young journalists is going up – but we’ve still got some way to go

When I started my first journalism job, I took home the princely sum of £87 a week in my first pay packet.

Today’s reporters do a bit better than that.

Using the Bank of England’s inflation tool, I reckon that first week’s salary would be worth just under £260 today.

A trainee on one of the lowest pay grades in a regional newsroom might be on £326 a week now. That’s if they’re on £17,000 a year.

But that £326 still isn’t a lot to shout about.

The issue of journalists’ pay emerged this week in a weighty new report from the National Council for the Training of Journalists.

The headline figure is encouraging, with the average NCTJ diploma-holder said to be on £22,500 six months after graduating.

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I’m pleased to see this progress.

But I can’t quite square this figure – particularly as it is said to be £500 higher than the average for all graduates at that early stage in their career – with what I know about industry pay rates.

These are likely to be reporters who haven’t yet passed their NQJ or equivalent in-house qualification, and so won’t have had their pay boosted by a senior rate.

In many newsrooms, that puts them on that £17,000 rung.

I know from the conversations I have with editors how difficult it can be for them to find staff within the tight budget constraints they are forced to operate under.

Some of our students have perhaps understandably turned their noses up at that £17k figure in recent months – although a couple of others have taken it on the financial chin.

It’s not just the initial starting salary. Even 18 months to two years of work – plus potentially topping up shorthand and filling in any exam gaps, passing the NQJ or in-house equivalent – may not even get you to the figure on which many graduates in other media sectors begin their careers.

And then there’s the workload.

I’ve made the point a few times that the reporters of today have a lot more on their plates than I did.

It’s not just the responsibilities of a ticklist that might include writing online, social and possibly even print headlines, of negotiating Facebook posting schedules, of shooting or sourcing video, and of getting involved in online discussions questioning your work, morals and parentage.

And it’s not just the personal accountability now inextricably baked into page view metrics.

One thing that really struck me in my visits to newsrooms and my annual Work Experience for the Elderly stints this summer was the way in which the relentless impact of a 24/7 news cycle was now played out.

Some newsroom managers may be part of three different WhatsApp groups, some of which may have membership well into double figures.

But the newest reporters on that 17 grand will also be on at least one of these, with notifications pinging around the clock.

Of course, the best reporters have always had a never-off-duty mantra.

Before the days of mobile phones, I can remember trudging to a phone box to make evening check calls to the police – all without any extra pay or time back.

And that’s without the Christmas Eve, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day shifts.

But I don’t think journalists have ever been more ‘always on’ than they are today.

That’s why we should worry about pay levels.

It’s not just the sometimes-disappointing starting salaries.

It’s also the worry over the vulnerability of staff on more respectable money.

I know one very experienced and talented journalist who quit a job they loved because they feared they would be next in line when redundancies were demanded.

If you’re paid well, you’re always going to be a tempting target when savings need to be made.

There are many reasons to be cheerful in the NCTJ report, including an average salary of £27,500 for those who graduated in 2015.

But it reveals that a third of journalism graduates leave the industry after three years, with 38 per cent of them blaming wage levels.

I’ve been involved in countless conversations over the years on the need to develop, reward and protect reporters who simply want to be reporters.

But it’s a nut that’s never quite been cracked effectively.

So – as a Twitter debate I inadvertently sparked confirmed – we have an industry which has a reputation for being competitive (and is in certain areas), but which can also struggle to find the right people.

 

It doesn’t help that we have traditionally been less than forthcoming with information about pay rates.

My Twitter friend David Higgerson tweeted a string of vacancies in his company Reach’s newsrooms – all where the salary was described as ‘competitive.’

Reach can be ahead of the game when it comes to rewarding their staff, but my fear is that competitive can mean ‘no worse than anywhere else.’

Now I know that sometimes the money on offer may vary according to experience or the applicant’s current package.

But I also know that budgets are so highly controlled now that there can be little wriggle room. So why not be a bit more up-front?

Looking at ads on Hold the Front Page and Reach’s jobs site, I did see a few where the salary was specified: Archant offering up to £18,000 to trainees and up to £25,000 for senior reporters, and Reach £18,500 for a commercial writer.

Archant was also very specific about another job – for a trainee – where the salary was ‘up to £17,160’. Here, you need to have already completed the NCTJ diploma – and have a car.

That for some people, once they’ve factored in insurance, might be quite a stretch.

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People don’t go into journalism for the money – and perhaps neither should they.

As a boss, I would always be suspicious of applicants who were fixated on financial details.

It’s a job where satisfaction, a feeling of making a difference, and of enriching community life by reporting and revealing key information are the main drivers.

But it’s also a job where the demands have never been as high.

Those job descriptions and lists of skills and requirements are growing all the time.

It’s essential that the pay keeps moving in the right direction, too.

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How to find and pitch decent story ideas

I can remember Sunday nights in an upstairs office, with pizza. There were daylong sessions at up-market hotels. And I’ve tried it in pub gardens on a weekday afternoon.

I’m talking, of course, about brainstorming.

About that relentless search for new story and content ideas.

I’ve spent quite a lot of the last three weeks in five quite different newsrooms.

Two were radio stations, while the other three were web/print operations.

The gear changes between each were fascinating.

But what they all have in common is a need to feed a relentless content beast, whether that be a three-hour radio breakfast show, or a demanding website with telephone number page view targets.

“We just need people with good ideas,” one news editor said to me.

Of course, sitting people down in a room and telling them to think of story ideas can sometimes be the least effective way of getting the creative juices going.

Like having to produce a urine sample at the doctor’s, you really need to be thinking of something completely different.

So how do we find good ideas? And – equally importantly, and a major takeaway point for me – how do we train journalists to properly both visualise their stories and pitch them convincingly?

Here are some thoughts.

Generating great ideas

  • There’s no such thing as a bad idea:   Just not so-good timing. One news editor told me their staff sometimes preferred to email their ideas because they were afraid that saying them out loud might open them to embarrassment. We need a culture of trust and respect which means that if an idea isn’t going to work, it can be shelved with dignity preserved all round. And it’s only by working our way through the mud of rubbish ideas that we find the diamonds.
  • Don’t be precious about copying, or building on, other people’s ideas: I’ve mentioned before two great features put together by one of my favourite regional journalists, Aled Thomas, who I had the pleasure of working with for three days last week.   They’ve disappeared off Google now, but one challenged people to recognise the backs of their own hands, while another got Aled’s then colleagues to talk about the everyday things they’d never done – like reading a Harry Potter book.   Another former colleague of mine was one of the first to put herself through the ordeal of staying in a hotel at the wrong end of the Trip Advisor ratings. Well done, Giulia. And every week, I come across great ideas. This one – about the resolutions people have made that did last – is lovely, and nickable. This one – which I’d never have the courage to try, proves a hi-vis jacket can get you pretty much anywhere.
  • Read some books: Sadly he’s no longer with us, but before he died at the age of just 34, Daniel Reimold wrote The Journalism of Ideas. It’s American, and it’s written for a student journalist audience. But there are some fantastic gems that any of us could use in it.
  • Keep your eyes and ears open: The oldest and most effective journalistic trick in the book. As effective as geo-searches on Twitter are – and they are, giving me the majority of my story ideas last week – sheer nosiness and earwigging also work. I’ve always been a terrible eavesdropper – terrible in the sense of doing my listening at inappropriate moments, that is. Not terrible in the sense of being no good at it. It’s got me stories from business closures to people learning to read in their 60s in the last year.
  • Actually, do brainstorm: Every so often, and pizza may well be your friend here, it’s worth setting aside some precious time for ideas generation. Challenge people to bring three off-diary, completely original creative content ideas with them, and be prepared to riff off each one until you’ve sifted the wheat from the chaff.

Pitch perfect

If you’ve got an idea you want to pitch as a freelance to a commissioning editor, look away now. Look, in fact, at this useful piece talking to Jessica Reed from Guardian US. Again, it’s American, but none the worse for that. If, on the other hand, you’re a new reporter having to offer up story or feature ideas to your editor or news editor, read on.

Finding the best way to organise news meetings, prospects meetings, conference, advanced planning meetings – or whatever you want to call them – remains work in progress at many newsrooms. Striking the right balance between tying up the time of your entire reporting staff and ensuring everyone has the right level of knowledge of, and input into, the news process can be tricky. We’re going to experiment with putting our students in small mini-newsdesk groups in the coming year so we get the best of both worlds.

But for reporters, here are a handful of tips.

  • Visualise: What’s your story or feature going to look like online? What’s the headline? The intro? The social media sell? How can you sum your story up in 30 words to a child? An intelligent and interested child, but still a child. Why would they read this?
  • Get to the point: We’re done with ‘I want to do a story about xx’. Don’t be vague, or your story will be equally vague. Do your research and be ruthless in getting to the point of what you’re writing. Don’t just think issues, think people.
  • Think ahead: Think of the questions that need to be asked, and the sources you’re going to need to contact. Be your own internal news editor before the real one gets involved. Stress-test the story so you’ve got as many answers as possible already, and so you can be persuasively up-front about the things you don’t yet know.
  • Act like a freelance: I told one of our former students who now works in one of the newsrooms I visited to imagine her editor had £100 in his back pocket for a story he liked. Sell the story as if you’re going to get paid for it.
  • But don’t oversell: What editors want are engaging stories which stand up, and which live up to their billing. As with all things in life, better to underpromise and overdeliver.

Keeping everyone sweet on work placements

For 18 months, I single-handedly kept Britain’s confectionery industry going.

I was a training manager, visiting different newsrooms every day to train and mentor journalists from senior editors to the youngest trainees.

I hope I was reasonably good at it.

But just in case, I had a secret weapon. Sweets.

The news editor in Bath was partial to a Skittle. The picture editor in Bristol loved a liquorice allsort (as did/do I), while a reporter in Wells would only eat jelly beans.

So wherever I was, I brought with me a selection of sweets.

So that, even if they didn’t remember me for my training, they remembered me for the sugar rush.

And, perhaps, my tea-making.

I’ve taken my sweets on tour again this week, with my Work Experience for the Elderly caravan pitching up in Swindon and Gloucester, to keep my hand in and my skills updated.

Around the country, some of our students will be involved in their own work experience adventures this week.

They too will be hoping to be remembered – and for all the right reasons.

Because that’s what’s at the heart of all positive placement experiences.

We hope that our students emerge from their time in newsrooms, studios or offices with their confidence, skills and maturity all enhanced.

The best placements are transformational, and can start spreading fairy dust on CVs.

I watched the excellent Amol Rajan’s fascinating documentary How to Break Into the Elite , and I couldn’t argue with much of what he had to say.

But there was a point where I worried he was dwelling too much on actual degree classifications.

His programme came out just before an interesting Twitter debate between some of my counterparts in the journalism education business, about whether we should regard ourselves as trainers or lecturers.

 

And there remains a debate over when a work placement becomes unpaid labour, as this thread proves.

But that’s by the by.

I’m delighted that four of our students will graduate with a first later this year.

But that in itself hasn’t been enough to see them into work.

What’s got decent jobs for them and their classmates has been the combination of a well-taught, hands-on, industry-focussed degree AND the experience of spending time in newsrooms, freelancing, doing student radio or other journalism, and getting stuck into projects from event presentation to outreach work to volunteering.

So how to make that work experience, work.

Here are my tips – both for students and employers.

They’re an update on a comprehensive guide I wrote three years ago.

Students

1. Be prepared

Look at the website, watch the TV output, listen to the radio station to understand the way stories are put together, and to check what’s already been covered. Research and brainstorm new story ideas, and don’t be afraid to get in touch the week before to pitch them. If you come armed with stories that work for the newsroom you’re in, you should be welcomed with open arms. If once you’re there, you find yourself at a loose end, try to make helpful suggestions to avoid the need for that open-ended question: Have you got anything I can do?

2. Be precise

If you’d like to find out more about how the news operation makes its headlines and intros search-friendly, or how the Local Democracy Reporter journalist finds stories, or how the magazine’s social media team engage their audience, say so.

3. Be interested

Take an interest in everything around you, ask intelligent questions, contribute ideas in meetings, and make the most of opportunities to talk to the people around you. Ask them how they got into the jobs they do.

4. Be honest

Ask for help, and don’t be afraid to say you don’t understand what you’re being asked to.

5. Be positive

Be a radiator, not a drain. Smile, even if inside you’re dying a little. Don’t ever stand on ceremony or be too proud. If they want vox pops, give them the best vox pops that have ever been done. Don’t clock-watch. Share the tea-making. We always tell our students the story of one of their predecessors who quit his internship on a very big Saturday night TV show over a task he felt was beneath him – and ended up being the butt of a prime time celebrity joke.

6. Be reliable

Check spellings, facts, dates, numbers, email addresses. Don’t be remembered for forcing your temporary employers into a correction.

7. Be brave

Walking through that door – particularly if it’s preceded by train, tube or bus journeys – will take a little bit of courage. But the anticipation will probably be far worse than the reality. Every single one of those confident, comfortable-looking workers will have been in your shaking shoes some time.

8. Be remembered for all the right reasons

Ask the best question, come up with the best suggestion for a poll, talk to the most people. Make sure that in six months’ time, they can still put a face to that name.

Newsrooms

1. Be clear

Let people know the ground rules: Start times, dress code, how the tea and coffee works, where the loos are, who everyone is, how to answer the phone. Take away as much of the uncertainty as you can.

2. Be organised

Try to impose some sort of routine or pattern, or to have regular tasks that people on work experience can tackle. Make sure there’s always something they can fall back on to do, while giving them space to show they can be self-starters.

3. Be interested

These are – or should be – intelligent, engaged, opinionated young people. Ask them for their views and insights. Would you read this? Does this Instagram post work?

4. Be patient

Ok. This is the most difficult of all. I always admit that I was that news editor that sometimes didn’t speak to the workie till 2pm. I couldn’t be arsed at times. But the last few years have shown me how crucial placements can be in fanning fantastic flames – or cruelly snuffing them out. Your door might be smashed down by quality applicants when you have a vacancy. Others aren’t so lucky. If someone shows potential, with the right attitude and instincts, I think you have a responsibility to the industry to encourage them. And remember when you, too, were summoning up the courage to approach that reception desk all those years ago.

Let’s all conspire to ignore conspiracy theorists

Over the decades, I’ve been wound up by plenty of stories and items of media coverage.

And in the last three years, as a lecturer teaching law and ethics, I’ve spent more time than is probably good for me immersed in the work of media regulators.

But it wasn’t until almost exactly a year ago that I made my first official complaint to one of them.

It was a piece of morning ITV coverage that caught my eye – and stuck in my throat.

For once it wasn’t Piers Morgan – mainly because I have an all-purpose mute facility where that particular idiot is concerned.

This was amiable veteran hosts Eamonn Holmes and Ruth Langsford giving a platform to an empty-headed time-waster who claims man has never landed on the moon.

On and on, the segment went, allowing him to put forward his theory that the landings must have been staged because the moon was ‘translucent’.

I fired off an angry complaint to Ofcom – along, I think with several hundred other people.

I’ve never heard back from them, sadly.

The anger threatened to resurface when I saw some of the coverage of the 50thanniversary of the first moon landing.

Never mind the utter lunacy – an appropriate word if ever there was one – of Boris Johnson appropriating the ambition of the Apollo mission as some kind of believe in Brexit metaphor.

This was the marvellous Manchester Evening News looking at lunar conspiracy theories under a headline which included the phrase ‘did we really go to the moon’.

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My hackles began to rise – as did those of my Twitter friend and frequent local media website critic, former regional newspaper boss, and now magazine editor, Mike Lowe.

In actual fact, the piece was a reasonably decent analysis of why conspiracy theories remain so powerful.

Indeed, the potency of such theories among apparently educated, clear-thinking and intelligent young people never quite ceases to amaze me.

I hope my students will say I have endless patience when it comes to their anxieties and outlooks on life.

But that patience is stretched when I’m drawn into conspiracy theory conversations.

It’s a sad enough fact that one in six Britons don’t entirely believe the moon landings actually happened.

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That the proportion rises to higher than one in five in the 25 to 34 age group is particularly horrifying.

From the fate of Madeleine McCann to those moon landings, from vaccines to creationism, and from ghosts to Princess Diana, the willingness to build a bonfire of scientific logic and rigour is never far away.

There has been some fantastic golden anniversary coverage in the last few days, showing journalism at its best in explaining and celebrating scientific and technological triumphs.

And it’s clearly important that as journalists we are ready to challenge conventional thinking, and slow to take things at face value.

But two men with highly tenuous relationships with the truth – and a dangerous reliance on bluff and broad brush bluster – are now in control on opposite sides of the Atlantic.

Meanwhile, we are just a few short years away from global climate catastrophe.

To spend a single second dealing with the self-indulgence of deniers and conspiracy theorists is a distraction we simply can’t afford.

There is a time and a place for exposing dangerously controversial views to the disinfectant of scrutiny.

But we are so beyond that with so many of the crucial challenges facing the human race.

We can’t afford to be going down conspiracy cul-de-sacs.

We need journalism to keep us on the path of truth.

Should all broadcasters boycott Farage events if he bans Channel 4 News?

I gave a talk to some lovely people from the university’s WI group last week.

They asked some great questions, and gave me a cup of tea and a bottle of wine. Result.

One question I asked them was: Is there such a thing as The Media?

Are we all the same, to be tarred with the same brush and treated with the same suspicion?

My argument has always been that we’re not; that the regional and local media operate to standards of transparency, accuracy, sensitivity and integrity that some national outlets could never meet. And that we have an accountability that others don’t: we have to look the people we’ve written about in the eye and justify every word we’ve written.

So what if one element of the media comes under attack?

There’s long been a debate in the US over how other broadcasters should react when Donald Trump or his team decide to ban a journalist or TV station from the White House.

I’ve always been sympathetic to the argument that those rivals should boycott press conferences, or at least make a point of asking the question that their excluded fellow reporter could not.

But what if the Mail is banned from Labour press conferences? Should the Guardian refuse to attend?

What should football reporters do when one of their number is banned from press conferences or the press box? Should Radio Devon have shunned the increasingly despondent post-match interviews when my beloved Plymouth Argyle threw their toys out of the Home Park pram with the Herald?

It’s an issue given new life by Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party.

After a bruising story about the organisation’s funding, the party has apparently told Channel 4 News it’s no longer welcome at its events.

Buzzfeed’s media reporter Mark di Stefano has asked the BBC, ITV and other broadcasters whether they’re going to express solidarity with C4 by operating their own self-imposed blacklist.

There’s no shortage of support for the idea on Twitter.

I think there’s a clear difference between this situation and a ban imposed on the print/online media.

The Mail, the Guardian – and even the Plymouth Herald should it decide to throw decades of impartiality to the wind – can take up political stances with impunity.

Channel 4 News cannot, and certainly not at election time.

The fact that there is a complex and tightly-regulated infrastructure which governs the reporting of broadcasters means that the temper tantrums of political parties should be taken more seriously.

Channel 4 News is required by Ofcom to provide due impartiality, to balance out its coverage and its questioning.

Who knows what Ofcom would make of a decision by all the broadcasters to pull out of Brexit Party coverage, in a spirit that says ‘if you attack one of us, you attack us all.’

I imagine Nigel Farage would absolutely love it because it would allow him to play the victim on behalf of the entire Brexit community all over again.

You could write his speeches now about the metropolitan elite closing ranks to ignore the British people, and showing their true leftie liberal colours.

He wouldn’t be subject to scrutiny from the Marr show, or from the far more effective BBC Wales political reporter Arwyn Jones, who last week offered up a bit of a masterclass in challenging politicians.

 

So maybe a blanket boycott isn’t the answer.

But I would love to see Laura Kuenssberg openly asking questions on behalf of Channel 4 at a Farage event.

I’d love to see ITV saying this is a question from our friends at Channel 4, Mr Farage.

Sometimes, there does need to be one media.

Ringing the changes to get would-be journalists to pick up the phone

There were plenty of days when they never stopped.

And there were plenty of days when I wished they would.

Ringing phones were part of the beautiful background noise of a good newsroom.

One of the many Wiltshire’s Laws I developed over time was that the closer you were to a print deadline, the more the phones would ring.

“Can someone get that, please,” was one of my politer responses.

Today, newsrooms seem quieter places.

I’ve been in one this week, and the phone rings now and again.

And in many ways, that’s fine. People get in touch by email, on Facebook, via Twitter or on WhatsApp groups.

And occasionally, as someone with possibly unfounded fears about a dangerous tree in a posh supermarket car park did only yesterday, they drop into the reception areas that are still open.

But we do need to talk about phones.

I love a bit of phone banter. There’s a particular joy to be had in oiling the wheels of nailing a story, or persuading someone to open up, through charming and/or cajoling down the line.

Listening to some reporters negotiate their way to success can be like observing a master craftsman or woman at work. It can be sheer poetry.

And yet, the generation that I spend most of my time with can find it hard.

It can take a couple of years for the penny to really drop that using the phone can be the best way to the heart of a story – or to crack that work placement, or that final year project feature interview.

Until it does, there can be a mini-world of pain, paranoia and procrastination.

This is far from breaking news.  The concern among editors and other employers emerges on a regular basis, and I’ve been talking to managers in the industry about this for several years.

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I’m looking forward to a session organised by the Broadcast Journalism Training Council in May which will look at how we can encourage students to get out from behind a keyboard.

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I’ve been working with a theatre company made up of performing arts graduates from our university for the last three years, devising role play exercises and confidence tips.

In a few weeks’ time, I’ll be getting all our first years to take part in an extra session where they have to use the phone, and next year we’ll be launching a new first-year module hammering home such basic skills.

The hope is that we can crack phobias about phones within a few months of students walking through the door.

It’s crucial that we free the journalists and other media professionals of the future to use every possible means of communication with confidence and charm.

And, occasionally, with a little bit of cunning.

I was delighted to hear one of our students tell me about her tactic for getting through to a woman whose story she wanted to cover.

After emails, phone calls and a visit came to nothing, she sent her a letter by recorded delivery – meaning the woman had to sign for it, and the student got a receipt.

She’s now doing that story.

 

 

 

When journalists have to show everyone else how to behave

It was a Friday morning when I decided to make my point.

At the time, my role as news editor also involved monitoring the comments left under all our online stories.

We’d covered an uplifting story about a sprightly pensioner who’d used his walking stick to tackle robbers who had just raided a bank in a suburban shopping street.

As the raiders fled from his have-a-go-hero attack, they were pursued by a taxi driver who kept them in sight while on the phone to the police via his hands-free.

Our coverage called both of them brave.

A positive story, you might think. Not much there for anyone to take issue with.

Except one reader did. He took exception to our ‘brave’ tag, and questioned whether following armed robbers at a discreet distance for several hundred yards required any degree of courage.

I pointed out that the robbers could have noticed the driver at any time, used their weapons against him, noted his registration number, and found all manner of ways of intimidating him.

It cut no ice with our keyboard warrior.

I wasn’t going to let it lie.

What was it that inspired him to spend his time effectively criticising someone who selflessly stepped in to perform an act of public service? Why was he so keen to have such a glass half-empty outlook on life?

It took a while, but eventually the penny dropped. I invited him to admit he had been mean-spirited. He accepted my invitation. I wished him a lovely weekend. And, silently, punched the air.

My little victory for generosity of spirit came to mind when one of my regional media heroes, Plymouth Herald crime reporter Carl Eve, called out one of his own readers.

The man had sent Carl pictures of a group of police officers having a breakfast break in the city, along with a rant about a looming rise in the share of the council tax being suggested by the area’s police and crime commissioner.

There was an element of history repeating itself, after The Sun carried a similar story about eight officers having bacon sandwiches and coffee in the same area two years ago.

This time, Carl was having none of it.

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In a wonderful piece, which has been shared 14,000 times and liked extensively in recent days, he defended the officers he covers, pointing out how rarely they have an opportunity to meet up to discuss their increasingly stressful working lives.

It wasn’t the story the man behind the tip-off was expecting.

But it was the right response from a journalist who has won respect for his thoughtfulness and compassion – as well as a refusal to put up with bullshit.

A few days earlier, Channel 4 News presenter Jon Snow had also won praise for calling out rudeness, when he rebuked left-wing Labour MP Richard Burgon for being ‘awfully beastly’ to Liberal Democrat Jo Swinson.

It was a great reversal of roles, as the TV interviewer accused his interviewee of rudeness, and of failing to let someone answer a question.

We took our first years to BBC Birmingham last week, and met Midlands Today editor Rachel Bowering, who is always a great source of wisdom and advice.

She spoke a lot about the importance of constructive journalism – storytelling that helps provide answers to problems, rather than just report on them, or in some cases accentuate them.

The perception of reality in the public becomes overly negative

That’s a movement given new life at the weekend by a man who helped define the hierarchy of news values, Johan Galtung.

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In an interview with the Guardian, he expressed concern at the priority given to stories about conflict.

“The perception of reality in the public becomes overly negative,” he said.

“It shapes what people are doing. And it shapes politicians, it makes them negative, instead of putting emphasis on the good in society they want to construct.”

Perhaps interventions such as mine, Carl’s and Jon’s are too rare.

We may have a reputation for cynicism and negativity.

But at times, we can’t hold a snuffed-out candle to our public.

At times, it is journalists who have to show people how to behave.

We should perhaps do it more often.