So is it the Biased Broadcasting Corporation?

When I was a news editor, I was accused of being a Tory, a Labour supporter, a Lib Dem, and a Green.

And I was happy with that, particularly around election time.

My rule of thumb has always been that if everyone thinks you’re biased, you’re probably doing a reasonable job.

Of course it’s impossible for journalists to be 100 per cent impartial. Each of us is shaped by experiences, upbringing, and prejudices – and each of us is looking for an engaging or unusual angle.

As Peter Stewart and Ray Alexander say in their book Broadcast Journalism:

“Complete impartiality is like perfection; an ideal for which many will strive but none will wholly attain.”

But that shouldn’t stop us trying. Especially if we’re the BBC, one of this country’s most trusted institutions, and bound by Ofcom and its own guidelines to have impartiality written as the lettering in its own very British stick of rock.

Each new decade has brought fresh assaults on the Beeb and its claims of complete political neutrality – from the Falklands to weapons of mass destruction and from the Middle East to Ulster.

Right now the clamour has reached a new peak. And this time, it’s not traditional Tories bemoaning the long-haired liberalism of the Bolshevik Broadcasting Corporation. Nor is it Canary Corbynistas sweeping the BBC into their mainstream media dustbin.

This is the centre-left – from media commentators to frontline campaigners, and all of them people for whom I have a reasonable amount of time. They accuse the corporation of institutional prejudice against a body of thought which once unassailably dominated political thinking: the case for Britain remaining in the EU.

The accusation is consistent: that the BBC is failing to hold the Government and Brexiteers to account on the biggest political issue for at least a generation, that it is indulging ministers’ cake-and-eat-it fantasies and that it is giving disproportionate air time to unelected rent-a-gobs such as Nigel Farage.

There has been little in the way of high profile response from BBC leaders, other than an interview with UK news editor Richard Burgess.

One former senior manager, Richard Sambrook, now head of the Cardiff University School of Journalism, has waded in, saying it is indefensible for individual editors to be targeted.

Newspaper columnist Gary Bainbridge also made some very telling points about the BBC’s alleged lack of interest in pro-Remain protests.

And there was this persuasive remark by educationalist Sam Freedman.

Another newspaper writer, Chris Deerin, has written a passionate defence of the BBC’s impartiality, arguing that its critics are playing into the hands of those who would wish to muzzle its journalism.

Appropriately enough, I think the truth is somewhere in the middle.

The result of the EU referendum two years ago was a massive wake-up call for the BBC, as it was for many elements of British journalism. I can still remember a young reporter posting a shocked – but in its own way, frightening – comment on Facebook on June 24, 2016: ‘I don’t know a single person who voted Leave.’

I know there has been huge soul-searching – over the idea that mainstream journalism was complacently out of touch with its audience, but also over a very different worry: that false balance allowed lies on buses to hold sway.

It is perhaps illuminating to think that it took a German journalist to ask Theresa May the most pertinent question about Brexit: Is it worth it? Needless to say she didn’t answer it.

So, I think individual reporters and producers may at times be conflicted in their thinking. How do they ask the questions that the audience wants answering when that audience is itself so divided, so confused?

But it’s a big leap from that to the concept of an organisation of 21,000 people being institutionally and consciously biased.

There’s a reason the BBC is so cherished.

It does a range of things that virtually no other broadcaster in the world is capable of doing. And it mostly does them very well, with a dedication to the pursuit of truth largely unmatched on these shores.

By all means challenge individual programme-making decisions to keep it on its toes.

But let’s not waste time – ours or the BBC’s – on conspiracy theories. 




Journalism and The Theory of Everything

He didn’t write it about journalism.

But some words which accompany many of the tributes to Professor Stephen Hawking today show that his genius wasn’t confined to quantum physics.

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It’s a great lesson for life. And a pretty good mission statement for journalists.

Look up at the stars and not down at your feet:

I’ve always believed in glass half-full journalism. That’s not to dodge difficult stories, to shy away from controversy or to be afraid of rocking the boat. To misquote the Bible – and I’ve been teaching the laws on blasphemy today – there is a time to be awkward, and a time to tell hard truths.

But I very much like the idea of Cornwall Live editor Jacqui Merrington to appoint a Happiness Reporter, with Hannah Maltwood’s mission to find life-affirming content.

And that Hawking mantra also says to me – as I feel free to wilfully re-interpret the great man’s thoughts – that a journalistic life is best lived out there in the fresh air.

It was lovely to see a commitment from Sky to send more reporters out into the country to talk to more real people about what it rightly calls ‘fractured Britain.’ The headline says it all.

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Journalism needs to be outward-looking, to immerse itself in communities and to ensure that the thoughts of interesting people are reflected in coverage. It needs to create new dishes, not reheat old ones.

Try to make sense of what you see:

Helping to make sense of a world that can seem troubling and complicated should be at the very heart of any journalist’s mission. It’s not just about providing a combination of lights and mirrors to reflect what’s going on in our communities. It’s also about providing incisive, helpful and trusted analysis useful to a time-poor audience which rises above the formulaic and the cut and paste.

There has rightly been huge praise for the way in which the Salisbury Journal broke the story which has dominated the national headlines for the last ten days. It’s incredibly heartwarming to see local journalists pursuing new lines, working contacts and writing responsibly in such extraordinary circumstances.

I’m spending most of this week back at the typeface, working as a reporter at The Bath Chronicle. Yesterday I covered my first council meeting for a few years, and I also met the new Trinity Mirror/BBC Local Democracy scheme reporter who will be covering the city, Stephen Sumner.

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As I have said before, the scheme is a wonderful one. I got five stories in a couple of hours yesterday afternoon and picked up a promising follow-up to chase tomorrow.

I also badgered the committee clerk to find me a table to rest my laptop on: evidence perhaps that we need to send more reporters into these corridors of power to ensure the public accountability muscles don’t descend into atrophy.

Be curious:

One of the most important journalistic mantras of all – and certainly one which the team in Salisbury need no reminder of.

I’m having a great time back on my stamping ground in Bath, meeting old friends, digging up stories and reacquainting myself with the sheer joy of telling interesting people’s stories. But it’s also been a real pleasure to see my temporary colleagues breaking stories which have involved keeping their eyes open and their brains in gear.

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Wonder about what makes the universe exists: 

I’m pushing my luck now. But the day I stop being fascinated by what makes the world go round is the day I give up and tend my garden. And I don’t like gardening.

That sense of wonder remains an essential part of a journalist’s toolkit, though.

We should never lose our capacity to be amazed and inspired by the extraordinary things that ordinary people do.

Cynicism is a corrosive thing. It’s important to have a healthy sense of suspicion, to question the motivation of people in authority from time to time. But thinking the worst of everyone and everything damages us all.

So, thank you Professor Hawking. Thank you not just for your scientific breakthroughs, but also for your wisdom on life in general. And for your sense of fun.

We need more of that in journalism too.


Go small, AND go home: the future of regional journalism

It doesn’t take much to make me feel guilty.

And so I’ve been feeling guilty about Facebook.

I’ve neglected it recently, a bit like I’ve neglected this blog.

And I’m not the only one. Whether because – like me – people have been spending more time on other social media such as Twitter and Instagram, whether there aren’t enough young users coming through, or whether we’ve just lost interest in vicarious enjoyment of our friends’ and relatives’ social lives, we’re spending less time with Mark Zuckerberg’s creation.

The wonderful BBC media editor Amol Rajan has written some really incisive analysis on what could be the beginning of the end of Facebook’s overwhelming dominance of so much of our lives.

My lack of engagement with Facebook means I’ve probably seen fewer news stories than I otherwise would have, although it’s all part of a pretty complicated picture.

Mr Zuckerberg actually wants people to spend less time on his platform, so that their experience is one of quality rather than quantity. And loosening ties with news providers by tinkering with Facebook’s algorithms is one way to do just that, he has decided.

For much of the regional media, and for significant swathes of the rest of the industry, Facebook has become akin to a drug, with some websites relying on it for up to 70 per cent of their traffic.

When Facebook decides to change tack, when it decides that journalism is more trouble than it’s worth, that doesn’t just move the goalposts: it changes the game entirely.

The social media giant says it wants the workings of its algorithms to protect local news and information.

But that hasn’t stopped the latest spasm of cuts at my old employers Trinity Mirror, where 49 jobs are under threat.

More of my friends will lose their jobs in the next few weeks, while others will have to work in offices with far more empty seats. And the website of my beloved Bath Chronicle is being dismantled.

I have been very, very careful to avoid public criticism of the leadership of firms such as Trinity Mirror. There are senior managers such as David Higgerson for whom I have massive respect, particularly for their willingness to engage with their critics. And I need to preserve good relations so that the door is always open to my students for visits and work placements.

But it’s tempting to conclude that a line has been crossed here in terms of commitment to quality journalism and community involvement.

And I need convincing of the merits of merging websites at a time when those Facebook changes will reduce the number of people coming to your stories via social.

For the sake of my students, and for the sake of my friends still doing the very best they can in newsrooms across the west of England, I have to view my glass as half-full. And I still do.


But it makes me more certain than ever that the shareholder model for the news media is, if not broken, definitely on the mechanic’s ramp.

There will certainly be a lot of people looking under the bonnet at Trinity Mirror after it moved to buy the Express and Star titles, a decision that will see more journalists looking for new jobs in the next year.

The media organisations of the future will either have to be small, locally-focussed and locally-owned – or catering for a high end niche market prepared to pay for specialist information and insights. In both cases, they will be serving a real community, or community of interest, providing a unique service.

The Guardian doesn’t fall neatly into either of those camps, and its subscription/donation model may work only because of its specific demograph of left-leaning people with a bit of money to spare.  But the success of that model shows the potency of turning your audience into your champions and supporters.

On the subject of paywalls, they’re not some kind of panacea for all our media crisis troubles, by the way. Unless you’re bringing an awful lot of added value, you won’t succeed.

There’s a sense in which less has to be more. Either you focus on a smaller geographical area, or a smaller, more specialist area of interest.

That point was underlined at our alumni day on Friday, when some of the greatest optimism for the future came from the deputy editor of a tiny Welsh weekly, and a designer working on niche magazines.


They were on a panel with reporters from Sky and a news agency, and PR professionals from big name sports clubs and from a forward-thinking agency.

All loved their jobs. All seemed in control of their destinies. All exuded confidence and wisdom beyond their years. I hadn’t taught any of them, but I was immensely proud.

Above all, they gave me huge comfort and reassurance that studying journalism is a damn good thing to do.

For months, I have looked at a lot of our third year students and thought: I’d give you a job now if I had one.

There is no shortage of talented young people ready for work in the media industry if only we can find the right business models.

I don’t have a lot of hope that Theresa May’s inquiry into the sustainability of the local and national media is going to come to much.  It’s classic long-grass stuff, both to delay the painful decisions hanging over from Leveson and to postpone any stance-taking on the regulation of Facebook and Google.

But we do need some radical thinking, which ought to involve everyone from the NCTJ to those new media companies, and to build on the success of some hyperlocal publications as well as co-operatives where the audience is also the owner such as The Bristol Cable.

It would be splendid if a way could be found to persuade our friends at Facebook to put some money into an extension of the BBC-funded Local Democracy Scheme so that its work in covering local and regional corridors of power could be expanded into the courts.

Decisions on which media should be given public notice advertising should be made on the basis of their commitment to continued and comprehensive coverage of local government.

There are no easy answers to any of this: if there were, we’d have found them by now.

But we are approaching a perfect storm in which an industry spreads its resources ever more thinly across huge, arbitrarily-drawn, artificial coverage areas while the communities that matter to most of us get smaller and more self-regarding by the day.


Politicians and the press: why we need to be each others’ critical friends

I used to speak to my paper’s local MP two or three times a week.

At one point, he said something which I found both reassuring and terrifying in equal measure.

“You know what I think about this, Paul. I’m happy for you to make up a quote and attribute it to me.”

The relationship between regional journalists and the politicians that serve their area is a delicate and complicated one.

Both are theoretically working for the common good, with a mission to celebrate and champion their communities.

Like all senior figures in the public sector, MPs will say something like: “We just expect you to be fair. If I’ve/we’ve got something wrong, we know you’ll hold us to account for it.”

Like all senior figures in the public sector, they don’t always mean it.

And God knows leading a public sector organisation today is nightmarishly challenging – and getting worse by the day. It’s not a barrel of laughs being an MP, either: your life is no longer your own, the hours are relentless, and your waistline and heart must feel under continuous attack.

The reason I could square the role of quote-writer to the political party veteran with my conscience was that I remembered far livelier conversations – often around election time, and occasionally involving stroppy silences that lasted several weeks.

I also recall being ambushed by that politician and a neighbouring MP from a different party on live TV. Both accused my paper of being biased. The fact that the allegations of bias directly contradicted each other gave me great pleasure. As always, if everyone thinks you’ve got it in for them you’re probably doing a pretty good job.

But despite that TV encounter, and despite those periodic spats, our relationship never descended into downright abuse.

Our paper was never described as ‘journalism with crayons’ or ‘shoddy’ – terms used by Teeside MP Emma Lewell-Buck and her husband Simon Buck in attacks on the Shields Gazette over its coverage of a boundary shake-up.

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I wonder how some of our past political disagreements would have played out on Twitter.

I was intrigued to see one of my home city of Plymouth’s MPs criticising the Herald over its coverage of both defence cuts and the cleanliness of the local hospital.

When I first read Johnny Mercer’s comments, I was tempted to put him in the same category as the Lewell-Bucks.

But I know he’s an interesting, intelligent, thoughtful character. And maybe there is slightly more nuance to his criticism. He’s certainly not critical of all journalism.

Having said that, I was glad to see reporters, former reporters and journalists on other Trinity Mirror titles defending the Herald’s corner.

Herald crime reporter Carl Eve wasn’t taking any nonsense about political bias in the regional media. Nor was he prepared to accept that the Herald has a glass half-empty approach to local life.

At least Mr Mercer is engaging in the debate.

That’s more that can be said for Sheffield MP Jared O’Hara who has vanished without trace after taking a period of sick leave in the face of criticism of some comments he made in the past.

There’s been some good coverage by the Yorkshire Post on all this, including some nice doorstepping of his office, which seems to have triggered his sudden decision to return to work.

As one of the commentators in a Twitter thread on the Mercer vs Herald debate acknowledges, MPs and the media should be each others’ watchdogs.

I like to think both are critical friends, honestly holding the other to account in good faith, and in pursuit of similar goals.

I made it a principle never to be friends with a politician on Facebook. But I don’t subscribe to the view that the only noble position for a journalist to hold is one of constant and suspicious attrition.

The best journalists and politicians realise that, even if they don’t always feel they need each other, their communities require both.

A New Year’s resolution: let’s make sure we share good news reporting in 2018

As presentations go, it was a pretty rubbish one.
When I first started giving talks about how to write, long before that became my job, I put together some slides containing advice and tips.
I was particularly keen on one of them.
It just featured one word: READ.
I went on to elaborate: you will only improve your writing by reading more of other people’s.
And I urged my audience – whether students, would-be village correspondents or radio station newsroom volunteers – to put any sensitivities and snobbishness aside.
“Some of the greatest writing in the English language today is in The Sun,” was a line I regularly used.
Sometimes I’d go further. “If Shakespeare was alive today, he’d be writing headlines for The Sun,” I once claimed.
So let’s get this clear: I have always been a fan of the way in which our most popular newspapers make words work. The way they paint pictures, encapsulate ideas and wage war on waffle.
Great journalism can be found in The Sun and the Mail, along with very welcome investment in good writing, of that there is no doubt.
And there are good people writing for both titles. I know and am very fond of some of them.
I say that not just because it’s true but also because there have been some fascinating debates on Twitter in the last few days about whether it’s possible to be both a decent human being and a writer for the tabloids. One was started by Thea de Gallier
with another by Sophie Brown.


I hate the world view the Sun and Mail espouse, the political hang-ups they cling to, the misleading stereotypes they encourage and the division and negativity that characterise so much of their coverage.
But I’d never discourage one of my students from working for them.
I’d make sure they went into the application process with their eyes open. But also that they had the courage to keep their mouth open, too, if what they were being asked to do challenged their conscience. Call me woefully naïve, but I can’t believe there are organisations that cannot be reformed from within.
You only have to look at the way in which sports journalists on The Times refused to accept their paper’s sidelining of the Hillsborough inquest verdict, and ensured that the second edition was changed to reflect such landmark news.
And here’s one final thought, the basis for a New Year’s resolution for all of us.

It stems from a tweet in one of those threads from journalist Jessica Bateman, and a cracking blog from a man who has felt himself under fire from both the Mail and the Sun. John Sutherland is a senior police officer in London and was understandably riled by The Sun’s critical coverage of what it regarded as failures in the war on crime. He also happens to suffer from depression, and has for some time been on anti-depressants – or ‘happy pills’ as The Mail’s recent inane splash headline called them.  Both stories to him illustrate a media default setting of carping from the sidelines, of seeing darkness rather than candles.

Tearing down is easy. It’s a little more difficult to build things up

I like to think that my own Twitter thread already reflects the glass half-full outlook recommended by both Jessica and John.

Rather than just railing against news coverage that disgusts us, we need to praise and celebrate the good stuff. Particularly if that good stuff is on occasions rolling its sleeves up and floating enlightened solutions to problems.
If we want a different, more positive and constructive, sort of journalism, it starts with us.

My journalism heroes of 2017: All of you

It is indeed the most wonderful time of the year.

And for the last three years, it’s been even more wonderful because I haven’t had to work up to the Christmas wire.

Tomorrow night, I will be able to close my laptop for a week and have a break.

It wasn’t always thus. Four years ago, I was updating The Bath Chronicle’s website well into the evening of Christmas Eve as the River Avon threatened to burst its banks and flood the city centre.

I’ve spent Boxing Days filling thin December 27 editions and cut short celebrations to be in at the crack of the dawn of a new year – hangover and all.

So, as other media folk reveal their heroes of 2017, I have no hesitation in naming mine.

They’re everyone working in the regional media.

It’s been a joy looking through my fellow blogger Steve Dyson’s list of regional media heroes – particularly as he celebrated the work of my onetime colleague Tim Dixon, as well as the investigative journalism of the inspiring Emma Youle and the spirit of axed editor Sarah Cox.

There’s been pride, too, at the recognition of the incredible work of the Manchester Evening News editorial team at the British Journalism Awards.

And it was uplifting to see the Bureau of Investigative Journalism’s Bureau Local Twitter thread showcasing some of the great stories that made a difference over the past year – as well as to see its launch of a new project to scrutinise council budgets.

But to me, anyone soldiering on in newsrooms from Truro to Thurso is a bit of a hero.

I don’t entirely buy into the spirit of the comment below – journalism is still a fantastic and fascinating job, which remains a real privilege.

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But these are difficult times, especially if you work for Newsquest, whose insistence that cutbacks in its newsrooms are all unconnected and uncoordinated beggars belief. Screen Shot 2017-12-21 at 08.30.51

I feel particularly sad about the loss of jobs at my former paper, the Swindon Advertiser.

But depleting resources and the departure of much-loved colleagues are only part of the picture.

Ever-increasing and seemingly non-negotiable web targets combine with a sceptical and ungrateful public to add to the challenge facing all regional journalists.

That suspicion of the traditional, so-called mainstream media is part of an arc of conspiracy theorist fantasising that starts with Donald Trump and goes all the way round to left-leaning sites such as The Canary – now thankfully censured for its ridiculous nonsense about Laura Kuenssberg.

I know of no one in the regional media who is interested in anything other than the truth, and no one who doesn’t have his or her community’s best interests at heart.

Day in, day out, they do their best to square circles, to serve up what can feel like the turkey twizzlers of quick fix web content while still lovingly preparing the home-cooked roast turkey of storytelling that has a lasting impact. And putting together print products that still offer the best way of getting people to lift their eyes from second screens and filter bubbles to read the unexpected, the important and the challenging.

So as I tuck into my own food this Christmas, I’ll raise a glass to everyone still carrying the torch for the journalism that really makes a difference.

To all regional journalists everywhere, I salute you, and wish you the very best Christmas possible.

Why I’m happy my licence fee is being spent on extra newspaper reporters

There are times when the jobs pages of the regional journalism website Hold the Front Page can be a bit of a desert.

Not this week.

Across the country there are well over 100 jobs on offer – a veritable Christmas feast of vacancies unprecedented in recent years.

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It would be lovely to report that the shareholders of Trinity Mirror and Johnson Press, along with the American owners of Newsquest, had had a blinding flash of inspiration and decided to reverse years of cuts in Britain’s regional journalism firepower.

But that’s not what’s led to this jobs bonanza. This Christmas present has come from the BBC: in other words, from you and I.

The idea of the BBC spending £8 million of licence-payers’ money on the salaries of reporters who will work for commercial media companies has been controversial.

Why should the BBC prop up private sector firms that have presided over the closure of titles and offices, and the removal of rafts of editors, subs and even reporters?

It’s a reasonable question to ask. But we are where we are, and it is what it is, as all our mothers used to say.

We have a shareholder or venture capital model which is on the ropes, we have audiences whose attachments to their communities can be fragile, and we have a media landscape where there is more competition for people’s time than ever before.

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And, importantly, the 150 reporters based in newsrooms from Teesside to Truro will not just be serving those companies’ titles and websites with stories from councils, courts and the NHS, but will also be providing content for the Beeb – and for other local news websites including some hyperlocals.

And never has the work of holding power to account been more necessary.

This week has brought a reminder of the tragedy that shames this whole nation, but which poses particularly awkward questions for regional journalism.

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This happened on our watch, on journalism’s watch.

The warning signs were there: in blogs that weren’t read, detailed council documents that weren’t analysed, and people who weren’t listened to.

That lack of coverage, of challenge, of curiosity, of contacts, of connections, played its part in the deaths of 71 people in an incident that should have no place in the year 2017.

But it’s a tricky business when newsroom web targets demand that each story gets at least 1,000 pairs of eyes – sometimes higher. Would some story about the variety of cladding used on a high rise tower have cleared that hurdle, and won an online audience?

There are times when that audience can appear to be our enemy rather than our ally. When – as my friends in Gloucestershire have seen – attempts to explain and bring to life a planning blueprint that will affect every family in the county seem to fall on blind eyes and deaf ears online.

And yet, there are beacons of hope, where journalists seem to have found that powerful sweet spot where public service journalism that makes a difference overlaps with storytelling that hits web targets.

I think of my friends at the Bristol Post, where great stories about individuals caught up in the nightmare of homelessness, and the recent gut-wrenching tragedy of the suicide of a girl from the city have captured hearts, minds and eyeballs.

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As the editor of one of its sister websites, Devon Live boss Patrick Phelvin so rightly said: “If it comes from the heart and is interesting then generally there’s an audience for it.”

I also look admiringly at the work of Sam Petherick at my old paper, The Bath Chronicle, who was shortlisted for a national award for his stories about overpaid vice-chancellor Professor Glynis Breakwell.

And once again I pay homage to one of the greatest journalists working in the regional media today, Manchester Evening News social affairs editor Jennifer Williams, whose coverage of issues from homelessness to hospitals and drugs to development always strengthens my belief that journalism can be a massive force for good in society.


All of these journalistic heroes are pursuing new stories, cooking up new dishes rather than reheating tired soufflés. As blogger Adam Tinworth so rightly said recently, in many ways there is too much journalism.

He wasn’t, we should stress, talking about truly local journalism: the coverage, challenge and storytelling that comes from working a patch or a specialism. That’s a skill that I try to put at the heart of everything that I teach, and I was hugely encouraged to hear an editor friend say she was bringing back patches at her papers the other day.

Of all those Cs I listed above, it is perhaps curiosity that is the most important. We spent an afternoon this week interviewing prospective students for our course and it was a joy to hear one say: ‘I want to know why things happen.’

As Guardian editor Kath Viner recently said, journalists shouldn’t just be asking the questions that everyone is asking – they should also pose the ones that no one else is voicing. That’s the key.

So I’m hugely cheered by the BBC investment, as well as by other initiatives where organisations making money out of other people’s journalism are beginning to give something back.

There are great things going on at Google, with its Newslabs work, and its recent funding of a string of regional journalism projects, including one to make court coverage more useful.

Initiatives from PA’s robot data journalism trials to the inspiring Bureau of Investigative Journalism’s Local Bureau work  should also give us hope.

That surfeit of journalism that Adam was talking about isn’t at grassroots level.

And so what we need to ensure is that the BBC investment doubles down on the regional coverage of what goes on in the corridors of power around the nation.

These 150 foot soldiers in the battle to hold power to account need to complement what’s already happening, not allow existing political reporters to be shunted into other work.

We need more eyes, ears and noses to be stuck into unwanted places.

There’s a mantra I’ve been sharing in teaching sessions, at open days, in TV interviews, at interview days, and on outreach visits. I’ve undoubtedly said it here before, too.

But it can’t be repeated enough times.

If we get journalism right, we stop Grenfell Towers from happening in the future.

Get it wrong, and that sort of tragedy happens time and time again.

Main picture: Christine Matthews