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Read this: Media Masters - Katy Searle

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Media Masters - Katy Searle…

Media Masters with Paul Blanchard

welcome to media Masters a series of one-to-one interviews with people at the top of the media game today on my Katie Searle head of BBC Westminster starting as a researcher and produce it should be with the BBC for almost three decades during which time she is work for the world service radio 4 and all three of their flagship daily news bulletins.

She is reported on both domestic and international news including the Jakarta riots and the elections in the US and Israel as an editor, she's been responsible for the BBC's rolling new service as well as leading programs including today and monthly current affairs programme The Editors she's also currently political news editor for BBC Westminster Katie thank you for joining me.

Thank you very much for having me it's ok.

It's been quite a surprise.

You've managed to find time to do this.

Yeah, it's been a pretty and it's in a pretty tiring but it's an incredible job to do actually and what you find particularly in politics and talking to people that were both within the media and politics but also actually.

Politicians is that it's pretty addictive and you'll get used to that kind of intensity and that work right and and the change of the media landscape of it over the last 5 years that I've been doing still prevent 5 years now has just speeded up and so it's it's it never really stopped, but when it does stop you cannot miss it is it quite an interesting time for you then as a jealous because all the old rules teams have just been thrown out of the window but here and in America I suppose my real question to his what the hell is going on now about the week and I think actually that is the question that I've been asked the most over the last particularly year, but even you could say going back 3 years, but my last six months to a year the most often asked question is how this gonna end you could ask 20000 people in Westminster and nobody would have the rounds because the answer is no one knows.

And that was certainly true building up to the resignation of the current prime minister.

Theresa May and it would be true when the new leader takes over because actually there is so many formulations of what happens now and I'd say to any political student listening now when you hear the current Tory leadership candidates saying this is what I'm going to do and it's going to be no deal or it's going to be a deal on this basis all that basis actually no one really knows what they're be able to get so that's what's made.

It particularly interesting as this story no one really knows how it's going to end when things happen at Westminster is your first thought about covering it editorial in the angle and getting the right crew then on the logistics of do you ever can't stop to think what do I think of her as a human being or do you do that at the end of the day actually hardly ever do that? Yeah? I always just think about it in store returns and I suppose because I've been at BBC for so long.

What happens if you become kind of into.

And I mean that in a good way, because you are so used to judging things by the natural sense of what the BBC is which is all about impartiality turning the story right and getting a clear line and what you think the story is and that might sound quite boring but actually it's it isn't it's really really exciting because you don't have to follow a set of colour rules and regulations are already in built-in your judgement so to answer your Direct question know what you think you start thinking about is what's the top line? I think that's probably always my first thought is looking right what what are we going to say the top line is and again having done this job for as long as I've done it.

It's quite instinctive you know so I should I attend to sort of just go straight in its that and I have fun I have quite clear mind on that you know I might not be right all the time and one of the great things about working BBC Westminster is literally surrounded by massive political brains that actually have been doing politics for a lot longer than me and it what that would I

Really like some of the big daisies you get all the people around so maybe it's Laura kuenssberg John Pienaar Norman Smith chick young everyone in the room with me and all the big names and what's great Farm it's actually when we will disagree.

So you know you'll have a genuine debate about what you think the top line is where the story is going and what did that politician actually say because the other thing about politics as you know is actually a lot of the answers are quite grateful for the reasons.

They want it when speaking so you know did so you can trying to work out actually what the kind of story behind it is but yeah, it's about first principle.

It's about looking at where the top line is and then also of course getting the camera to to wear that person is where are they? Can we find them? How many cameras do we need all their back entrances that you can get to them thinking about the shorts.

You know there's this the other real challenge.

I'm sure we'll talk about this more.

What is the pictures at Westminster University show business.

Sex with your exception.

Yeah, I know just no pictures, so there's not that's not something you can actually say oh, that's a beautiful short.

You know I would let cling film that person doing this or that or it's just really funny old people just walked across College Green is it snowing outside Westminster number right have to say the tracksuit jogging trying to win in stunning for the deputy leadership trying to convince people in as normal it look the least normal doing that the root ok at the moment all day when we suspect a lot of them.

Just chilled round the corner and stop you know so that's that's only to watch out for that.

Yeah, so it's it is thinking about how you can you can illustrate their what's going on in Westminster with the pictures around it that you can play with and that takes quite a lot of kind of creative thought sometimes you can come up with something but you look better than thing on my god.

That was just really cheesy and all four and there's a lot of daffodils in spring.

You know and there's a lot of autumn leaves on the ground in the autumn, so you know we have debates about that all traffic lights to say stop start the brexit process, but there's a genuine challenge about that and I hope that we get to a point where we try and tell the story through just little suggestions of old picture and actually that really relies on on correspondence and and people like Laura kuenssberg.

You know looking for a moment and write internet picture to bring it on I've let me ask you adjust on the person that I mean, it's none of our business genuinely how you thought there must be a moment when you're in the privacy of the polling Booth when you deciding for yourself as up as a person, what device are you? Are you the best informed voter or Innocence of he's so overwhelmed with covering your day in day out that you can have after it's difficult to step back and actually that's a really good question.

I think yeah, of course we all have our own private political views.

I think you know as I said before genuinely I've I've never had a moment where I feel that I bring any of those two at work and as you mentioned the start of work for this.

For 30 years and I genuinely have never met anyone that I think I know how you vote never and that's you know actually quite an incredible achievement when you think of all the stories that are thrown at you.

I mean yeah.

I mean to answer your don't Direct question.

It's really great being this informed.

You know when I think about and how are used to make political judgements or yellow voting for years ago and I've took my most people don't really know the details of course of course.

I can't because he's sit down and really reason manifested that actually that's that is also possible job to remember that because a massive Challenge for us is to explain you know they devoted their pastors the lines the particle interviews two people that aren't and shouldn't and cannot have the time to sit down and we manifest is in a lot of what's interesting about policies particularly now people will be making a decision about the next prime minister is how people actually mostly go on instinct and he saw that during the EU referendum when you see the elections to.

And you know there's a kind of often the fear the line is you know can you see them on the steps of Downing Street and it comes to that down to that kind of that image in your head and answer.

I think his journalist and political reporters.

It's really important to remember that people do vote on insta can emotion you know if some people are lot of people sit down and say no when I've really looked at their economic policy or I don't like their health policy or whatever it is, but most people.

It's a lot of it is about instant.

Maybe that's deservedly so because I know it's often misattributed to Hannibal but he has that they are famous saying no battle plan never survives contact with the enemy if you're going to like to leave a party or lead with a government no one knows what's going to happen a year from now on you do have to put your trust in that that that the temperament of that person they decision-making ability and then motivation there honesty all those things are incredibly important.


I think back to when Theresa May was elected first off again.

It was quite an instinctive thing I think in the end of the obtained.

Until couple of choices and and a lot of people felt that she was reliable and and had good decision-making skills and certainly when she started she had an agenda that she really wanted to put out that unfortunately for her.

She faced you know the biggest question we have for decades and decades of how to deal with brexit when you have no majority in a course many people would say that her biggest mistake was calling another election and losing her majority.

So you know you never know when when something starts looking strong at the beginning and how it's going to play out in the in the future.

Is it as you deal with things in a course politics is famous for everything going chucked out at you and as a politician.

It's how you deal with those unexpected problems so but, you're hurtling and some of them can be predicted and some of them about policy decisions that she a lot of them.

I think I'll just come natural events or events that happened and how you deal with that as a leader is the real test I worked in politics for over 10 years.

I want to Westminster stood for Parliament I was a local councillor for 6 years advisor to various people in the Liberal party and I thought it was quite unfair the way that people normal people perceive politicians.

They think they're all corrupt after all as bad as each other you know I know a lot of political activism politicians of all parties and yes some of them on at the obit vein and some of them a bit lazy but actually largely they mean well and I think that the negativity that the public see them with his not deserved so my question to you.

Is is working with politicians on a day-to-day basis.

Do you have some sympathy with their position and I completely agree with that you know I think things like the expenses scandal where they were genuine problems and real questions and the Telegraph did amazing journalism to get what they got and unity change the systems and some people even ended up and jail didn't actually if you look at agree with your point about individuals actually if you look and talk to them most of them are beside the overwhelming majority of them all.

Because they want to do good and make a difference and what really came home to me actually is when we saw some of the debates around the war in Syria and the terrible Canavan emotional struggle that some of those MP stood up and made speeches about whether to back military action or not and I think some of them were moved to tears in the chamber, and I don't think anyone could question and they can heavy weights that some of them feel when they have to make those types of choices this seems to be such an entrenched negativity that on both sides now Taylor Swift 4 example used to get an attack for not getting involved in politics, but I actually from her point of view thought that was quite clever because the minute she said anything half of her audience were going to take upset at that and then it's always the negative people at the most motivated that the issues now you are you you look at brexit? Is it to cut a cross party politics that cut across family divides and no no side seams to be truly listening to the other it seems quite a and misra.

The moment really yeah, I think that's right and I think brexit has really changed politics.

You know there's a general butt discussion and Westminster now.

They're either once.

It's all over if it if you like once with out of the way back exactly that's a real Debate and actually most people think they've gone forever many people think that it's gone forever and it's because you know there's the so bad.

It's so binary this choice in or out and as you said I do you know crosses the party divide so much as well, so actually that's a genuine kind of challenge in the reporting because you know before all the face you'd sorted so while I'd have a clip of the Labour Party the Tory Party Lib Dems etc SMP on you go but actually there.

It's just not a simple straightforward as that you've got a look at work their voting record hold a supporting people's vote do they want to stay in and it was a hard brexit and soft bread and really one of our huge challenges over the last couple.

This is to try and get that balance right and you know it's been it has been a real challenge and I think you know a lot of the parties have her felt frustrations about that and it's also true that she is the corbyn's Labour Party what we seen with that is a real growth of a different kind of Labour and front bench.

Why was only 22 years? I was a member.

So when you know a bit of former members yet, so you've got that struggle with representing representing the backbench which the bench who may not reflect the same value as all or certain colour policies support policies of the front bench.

So that's another consideration.

So it's just it's got much more complicated and there in the last 4 years and they all went well.

I'm in the college review yet Ray Collins was the former general secretary of the party and he said let's encourage more people to get involved in politics.

So we'll make it easy to join the Labour Party £3 on.

And then when is IT leadership election a couple of well-meaning NPCs have left to make people feel include.

It will buy back for us because he's the leader he is definitely an actually that Jeremy Corbyn would say he's he's overseen a in the biggest Grace in the Labour Party Everest not for decades and at you know it's been hugely successful 202 group to grow that movement yet.

Do you think there will be a general election so I can I get back to kind of houses going to end because then you can ask lots of people and they're all have different answers.

I think you know if you look at kind of where we're going in the choices.

Have it that is got to be a real consideration over the next year and you because essentially the you know the numbers aren't going to change although you know you could argue that the supporters in within those parties may change their religion.

So you may see some shifting there, but I think.

Got a pretty good bet that they have they could well be one within the next year.

Do you feel that your job is a journalist is there is more difficult and as an editor because you've not only got the US president be crying fake news attacking journalism itself and journalist, but also you know when Nick Robinson was political editor.

There was a marked on BBC Scotland where people saying that he was biased that my view is your hours with Jeremy Bowen earlier today if an equal number of israelis and Palestinians attackers reporting as buyers and you can kind of see when he's probably got it now really but now it seems to be deeply personal Laurie Coombes because I had to have bodyguards a couple of years ago Labour Party Conference he seems to be that journalism is under attack as never before I think they're about 5 years ago and I think there was a definite change so within my job in that time.

I've done to you, two referendums and two general elections which were already.

Is an extraordinary thing to to land into so I I think the intensity has grown because week because it's been such an hour.

Usual time I mean without we've never seen a political time like this or not since the second world war and and yellow so the the stories are never ending and they are you know the new cycle is move so quickly and I think if you can if you were going to look at watches change the most.

I think it's a combination of a hugely busy political.

Combined with a changing new Cycle mostly driven by social media and that if you look at wild so that is because everyone is a journalist now everyone can publish comments and so you're no longer waiting for that kind of official statement or what does that person think of that person think everyone can publish what they think that Twitter has a huge body with in Westminster and the Westminster lobby, which other group of journalists reporting on parliament and so what happens with that is the stories that I think when I started you could sort of expecting about.

Two new Cycles one for the morning one for the afternoon and I dream of having to new site analysis short and now you can get the changes sometimes within minutes sometimes within seconds people say different things and so you're always ready to jump to the next moment and it makes it very exciting also.

Do you know it's a challenge because one of them is again when I talked about judging what we think the top line is it will be very easy to start saying all Atsu this now or that's the new exciting development for the BBC use just before the end of the day if you like the 6 or 10 news Union to sit back and so will hang on it.

What's the most significant thing that's happened today.

You know was it really that thing that look terribly exciting at 3 this afternoon or was that actually where we started the day and see you have to come if keep trying to sort of yellow take a deep breath and think about where you think the political day.

Is is ending.

And then obviously get ready for the next development that's coming.

I mean you talk to on the difficulty of pictures, but there's also the fact that you know brevity is an issue.

You know Laurie Coombes but will have a 3 minute package on the 10 and then she'll be in the studio for 75 seconds to talk over and talk around it.

What do you include and what don't you mean today? Because she could go on for 10 minutes there must be 10 minutes with the stuff.

She could say how do you chop 7 minutes of that to make it 3 minutes long, but that's a daily challenge, but you could tell the additive the temple usually do 10 minutes every night and beliefs about keeping the audience is focused you know and and and also again.

I got to go back to what we think the story is do you know if you include five or six lines in a 10-minute piece? Are you really being disciplined enough with your own journalistic judgement to decide what you think the most important things they are there.

If you've only got 3 minutes.

You can only get so many facts and figures in and so that's about deciding right.

This is the story today this is.

Are we going to tell it? What do we need to tell your audience and what we not need to bother them with because the other challenges parliamentary language in explaining brexit to to the audience is incredibly complicated process a lot about stomach now.

Just not all the time.

I just hope no one asked me any follow-up questions so far.

They haven't it is trying to appeal back to the basic message of what you going to do an actually is you know what though it is sometimes a challenge to do that and you'll often hear me on the phone.

You know 17:00 saying to my colleagues on the 6:00 news that we're just gonna need another minute to do this because it's not just about telling the story.

It's also about the balance point I've talked about so does Paul royal Dutch Shell you got 30 seconds in the slam the phone down like he's some kind of the early 90s film of the diplomatic language there were exchanged.

To reflect all the divisions and again for the live.

It's a discipline that all correspondence work to and you know that Paul to the evening particularly for law at 10 at night.

You know what is what is the thing that she wants to sum up about the day, but it's either summarises the day or summarises the problem or challenge that will go into the next day.

I want it seems utterly almost impenetrable a difficult and no one's grateful for what you doing.

Do you ever I'm in Tredegar tomorrow morning think I'm committed to him partial by through journalism and that's going to get me through the day.

Please 100 people are lining up to punch you in the face.

I have a good one to get me down in the last 5 years has been extraordinary thing to witness on it.

I genuinely jump out of bed every day and singing Riley's do it was going to happen today and sometimes if you look at the stories in the last year or so I mean.

Genuinely couldn't make it on and so there are things he just seeing what happened now really you know what we're going to do with that and how to explain that to the audience in so it you know it's actually it's a huge privilege.

You know it's a proper responsibility and I take that responsibility being very very seriously, but it's also can be really exciting really good fun and how do you say guarantee that due impartiality because there's always these cries if you know you are you by yourself? I mean I queue trying to BBC news coverage.

Obviously don't think you guys are doing a great job and clearly up your not bias.

You are a parcel.

I mean to dream Crush reality really means the weight of argument.

So where are you going to land the number of people speaking and the conversation that they are part of at that time and how do you represent that I mean clearly there are rules and regulations around election.

Sand so they're really really Street rules that we have to abide by by law but even outside of election.

So I think it's just about us being impartial on a boat.

About us doing our job and correctly and I have spoken before about just having an inbuilt, feeling about what we do and what's impartial note becomes a natural senses of looking at the language or using the phrasing you're using the clips to make sure that you're not Brit misrepresenting.

What people say it's a really important point and then of course within Politics of representation of the parties and how much support they've had either from the last election all the election cycle and and and and what does it say what the kind of current story is now so to take for example yet.

He's he's won the European elections with a brexit party and so of course.

It's right to reflect that but if the support for the brexit party falls over.

You know those things change as well.

So it's about to come out weight system that you used to samarpan and feel the way politics is going and the the amount of support the public is given to those parties.

How do you deal with these?

So called facts with their right or wrong.

I mean I'm thinking of the Little Bus the 350 million for the NHS what troubles me there.

Is is it technically correct in so far as that's what we give the EU but of course it in my view disingenuously ignores the rebate and of course even further disingenuously MyView could never be a matter for the NHS so we end up in on a debate about whether it's true or not, but the reality is is that it's technically true in my view but not really true morally true and they were clearly using a technicality technical to mislead so that is already something that's incredibly difficult to explain in my view.

I wanted to get across because you'll end up producing the Today programme to to guess they will that is true.

That is what we write a check for for the Eurovision is some of the guys say no it isn't the BBC is done over the last few years, but his done increasingly more off over the last couple of years is something called reality check which a lot of the other armedia colleague sofa.

The inversions and it Mitchell I did it has actually it's been absolutely, crucial to that because one of the challenges for us on the brexit story is that and n any kind of leadership story actually about campaigns or anything is that you need to report an candidates or or representations of Representatives of parties absolutely have the right to hear the message said Annette and that's part of democracy and but the public have the right to have those facts challenged and and questioned so we are doing more and more of the use of reality check where we have a team of very qualified and experienced journalist looking at what the claims and counterclaims and whether it's online on radio or I'm increasingly on the main bulletins.

We try and say ok.

This is what they are claiming is the first piece on the news and then often follow up that with well, let's just look at.

Buy more data on that's that's been really really important.

I think the audience now.

I know this isn't your personal folder.

I don't want to descend into kind of episode of w1a, but a lot of the titles of the BBC a can of impenetrable so like Laura kuenssberg is the BBC's political editor but your head of Westminster and head of political news Gathering not news is that word I imagine it is because it's in your title.

How does that work? What is the dynamic? Are you Laura's boss is she your boss? Are you not going to say the viewers and listeners of the boss and I managed a team of Westminster of about eighty to ninety journalism and Rangers room online writers to reporters to reproduce citizen and all the rest and oversee and everything is going on it at BBC Westminster and so that's that's my Direct role.

I work really closely with Laura I'm editor of political news which means I edit that news.

Enzymes responsible for that content either little go to prison if you can get it disastrously wrong the star of The Show and end is really the buck stops with her serious political editor.

We were really really closely together and we'll be talking from very very early in the morning to very very late at night and I'm constantly we will have little WhatsApp groups about how we gonna communication, but we think what story is and what we need to chase the stories during the day and does fiy.

Can it make you do a double think when you done your WhatsApp new emails because you know you might say something to Laura say you know we need a bit more out of remaining that particular package and then three years later when it's shown in the newspaper out of context from Soweto I request you're going to get hit over the head by the Daily Mail so there.

You are there's Proof it's not something.

Have a quite a professional conversation, so let's hope we stick to the Script will be soft on Farage tonight forensic little into the army.

I love it when he sticks one on politicians of all parties even some in the Labour Party I said I think it's a fantastic and you'd be daft to go on his show and have something to hide or somebody trying to sidestep because ill ill ill get you and I really really like that as that has the fewest why is the BBC dropping the week? It's it's hugely popular with Elena audience go well.

I think to be honest.

It's not but it's not something that im directly involved in and had enough of Andrew is completely agree with is an incredible broadcaster, and he is one of the best interview answer in this country.

I think his first class decisions about pregnancy just evolved know and I think you know it depends on what people individuals want to do but also audience rates and actually look.

Different offerings Adams podcast Alfie 3 years you'll end up picking up phrases like due to the unique nature at where the BBC is funded and things like that but you do have a special responsibility to reach out with all different types of audiences more so than a commercial broadcaster.

We have Debbie Ramsay in recently.

He was the editor BBC Newsbeat and it makes that made me think about how you know the BBC can attract a younger audience to political news in is that something that you have to bury my how do you do a lot more engagement on social media? Do you have a way of of doing that? I think it's really important and it says biggest challenge at the BBC faces at the moment.

We really need to look at our younger audiences in and bring them in and I think you know to an extent.

We're still looking at how we best do that.

There's been a huge is Debbie reference last week.

I think there's been a huge growth in in digital content the BBC in Westminster I've recently set up the can a whole new specialised units going to look specifically at this and there is a real life,

About what that does and who had a wee target the younger audience, how do we get them interest in politics? You know if we will talk to young people of I talk to my children are not really that interested.

So how do we address that one of the things? I I think it is worth saying is it is also a challenge because the story has been consistent but if you like it brexit has been the story for 3 years and actually have more than that if you look at the campaign Amsterdam yes, I just respect your journalism.

No, I think that she if you think about the normal audience.

You know they actually quite a lot of them as Cassie out later.

She started sitting in that I care about a year ago and I said you sick of it and she obviously said no no no not one of us remastered addicts bear but also the I'm in the audience such figures are usually I spend a lot of people say when I'm quite bored of it, but then you look at things really know what they're watching and and also you know I find with my friends and family if they're asking me about the story then I kind of thing that probably quite interested.

And they still ask me about brexit and who's going home with makes Prime Minister so I think we will still bring them in but it says it's a real question about serving all the audience.

So what we've done quite recently is a point in you play school Correspondents based outside of London and Alex Forsyth who was one of our Westminster correspondences is now based in Birmingham and her specific role that we've designed is to try and report on other things together in the real-world social do a bit of Britain should do a bit of Westminster stuff outside of Westminster but a lot of it is looking at challenges that face our people and down the country.

You know and I thought about this a lot in the last couple of years and just thought well actually that's a huge amount as in the political world that we're just not ever getting too so we worked hard to create this posting.

Do you know a lot of it will be about funding social services or people's education or the growth of political parties from the grassroots and she's been doing it for a few weeks.

I'm really pleased with the results and I think genuinely we will start talking to a different audience as well and getting different views from across the country rather than just being stuck in in SW1 is one of the challenges.

We face as a lot of people say to me.

Why don't you get out of Westminster and the answer is always because the story is in Westminster you know haven't scan of their polyfibre stars Laura's again report on something that was in Westminster from Leeds that would you know that not only would be a challenge it would look quite weird.

So you know we Are Forever drawn to Westminster for the right reasons, but that doesn't mean that we shouldn't look for the ways.

So I'm I'm really excited that we've been able to create this posting and hope to bring and you can have political reporting out of it another BBC trying to broaden the range of voices in its coverage at does that mean giving a platform to commentators on the far left and on the far right of the political spectrum.

Yes, I think you know I think we need to talk to policy.

Alexandra the BBC should not be banning people you know we've got to make judgements about whether they got criminal activity really or whether there's inciting and he loves violence do anything like that at your course that would be a consideration, but if you've accepted those then I think it's really important to get a broad Range and you know as we've discussed actually the political spectrum has widened both on the left and the right in the last few years, so when those people have become part of the actual everyday debate Trillium anyways.

It's difficult it must pose A Challenge for you to cover someone like Tommy Robinson who was not any spewing hate and inciting racial hatred but clearly has a huge political following will be on social media SIM until recently.

He's clearly someone who's irrelevant in in the political you know seen these days, but how do you decide whether?

Because I know when he was on trial for example that was more of a crime story about when he was in contempt or not.

Yeah, I think we've been discussing.

I think it's about making a judgement about whether that person is in inverted commas earned their place in our do they have the enough political support.

You know is there a story around them once you've gone through your kind of check.

This is cut of your own internal questions, then there's another judgement about where you place that it how much prominence you give that person as to how much airtime that person particularly gets in and sometimes you decide that the right things sometimes you all your decide I actually don't really want to give them very much at all and so but it's it is true with lots of political decisions and lots of decisions around what you think the story.

Is it say how much weight overall given due impartiality it then all the other rules or regulations that we just naturally live by does that person.

Earning the end, how does the actual can a day-to-day running times at what time do you start the day and then is there a conference after an hour and the people dial-in? How do you plan the actual coverage of the day my day often starts 6:01 in the morning because soon as the headlines have gone out on Radio 4 and the phone starts ringing and so and particularly during campaign x elation.

And because the parties tend to ring me or start texting me if they've heard but story where reporting on listen to what I'm just at the start your day doing my alarm goes off at 5:59 and on the radio goes and the phone will stop ringing start ringing or text going quite soon after that every day and it goes through different periods but you have joined a really intense x and particularly during the referendum you know both sides of the argument are doing their jobs.

You know they have director of communications for reasons then there will be a very intent on making their points.

You know trying to get there lines across, so that will be the start of the day and then at you.

I'll have a constant conversation with Laura kuenssberg and we'll discuss where we think the day is going and then we have our main conference at the BBC at 9 in the morning where I do a video link into from Westminster and discuss what I think the main cause stories after all the main editors in the BBC and discuss what kind of interviews were trying to get and how I think the shape of the day will go and then we'll talk of a months ourselves at Westminster and and it's great to have all these brains in the Roman what's wonderful about working in the Westminster news rumours that it's you.

It's like a sponge you just hear different different voices and different views and different opinions and it really informs what you think as an editor and it's fascinating and also there is a growth of blogs etc.

Very influential in the mornings a lot of political blogs flying around from really really early and so the

The better sense of how the wider Westminster janazai his tattoos looking at stories and then so quite early on will make a decision.

What's Ola different correspondence will look at and sort loris, looking towards the 6 and 10 news.

It will be one thing Norman Smith who will go on the news channel original immediately his you're very hard-working as they were when he might have a slightly different take to see it all the audience is a different as well.

Of course so Laura's Focus may be as I said earlier looking at how we get to the end of the day and and summarise what the big moment of the day is Norman may have moved on from that a little bit of this offering different things to the Radio 4 audience by the end of the day for example and that's also true of the digital content 5 live the channel and all the other journals and also there's a real question about what else are we going to chase and I have hurt in mixture of correspondence that have specialist subjects if you like and they'll be doing their own journalism in the background to try and find the next Lines

What you don't want this Norman Lauren jumping out of his people producing three different versions of the same report.

Did you sit down at the beginning of things right this development has three ingredients Laura you do ingredient one you know Norman you doing ready to do kind of David that up.

How does that work? Well? We will do for a TV reports will just naturally be quite different to what Norman would offer as a radio report because of sleepwear really relying on pictures and telling that story through that and so we'll have an individual discussion with Lauren and her producing team who are absolutely first class and will look at what best pictures and what voices they can gather because without the pictures.

You've got nothing to put a Hereford radio.

It's obviously just a different product and so it's much more in the writing and it does include of course interviews and sound but it's a it's a very different Media product that Norman will then be writing for Radio 4 and others but yeah interns.

Overall splitting the stories they could be on anyone day and number of stories, so you know obviously have a finite amount of people in the room but your try and make a decision about what which stories you think will develop and a really really worth chasing and then put those people on on that in and try and get it on the air from there and how do you decide when that a story might be bigger than the political breed so you might get that the closure of I'm at High Street Brand and there's a political angle to able than they also the BBC's business editor Simon Jack might want to do something.

How do you make sure game that both Laura and Simon and saying essentially the same thing and it's fairly straightforward and I think there's a preschool an angle to everything you look at that.

You're so we cannot we can be on all the time and our team are busy and on the news constantly so if there's a story about what's got more of a business angle overall actually that's fine.

You know Simon can do that and with busy enough with it with what we've got onto.

So yeah, it's about the balance really in the end.

Is it a Potter story that is going to dominate Parliament is a real trouble for the prime minister, then that's going to be in actually politics if it's something that is about a high street is about the account customer services or costings that probably 14 Simon do you ever feel sorry for politicians lie in the moment? Are you still busy trying to get stuff to air and hold them to account that you don't you can have sometimes.

Just forget not in a horrible, but you forget that are human beings and they might be genuinely you're going through its M1 Ken Livingstone locked himself in that toilet for an hour and a half.

I mean don't get me wrong at it.

Was I laughed at the time as well, but that must have been not very pleasant for him to have to have to think it's a journalist she before I went to Westminster I edited them season 10 can't use for a very long time and a lot of the stories of people now.

Just watching the news actually a really heartbreaking and really difficult and sometimes.

There's as Jonas in the username you see pictures of things that you'd really rather not see any have to make a judgement about what you show.

To the public in Britain are honestly to read this or just of the Pops in the video and it's the same as you end up actually just having a bit of a natural emotional barrier.

You know that you you just say it.

I just see it as a story only courses moment see you know when the prime minister stood on the steps and resigned couple of weeks ago and her own emotions came out of course you know any human being feels that kind of motion for another person actually I am in the moment and then I felt disgust at how much she was clearly.

I think she's balls the job, but I respect her intent and I respect her as a professional and she was clearly very emotional and I definitely human mum and then and she was widely derided on social media that don't people have humanity completely forget your regulars.

That will be the pool quote for the whole podcast but I do think maybe this is a maybe this is a problem for journalism, but actually I think you have.

Do to be able to do your job both independently be also to deal with some of them horrible stories that you're faced with actually just put up a bit of a barrier room and see it is a story and try not to think about it too much be on that with Jeremy Vine on a couple of years ago.

He's a big fan of his friend of mine, but he was he worked out before I didn't use the BBC South Africa correspondent and he was doing something important thing with Nelson Mandela at the time and the News newsdesk called him off and said all this beneath a crash a helicopter crash in Johannesburg and we need to go cover that urgently and he's like alright.

If people must have died then because of this he keep putting me off Nelson Mandela the newsletter.

It's only two and he said

I've been pulled off that and it's a very severe someone filmed it.

We've got imagery is going to leave the 10 and I'm actually brings me to another question really which is if I'm a politically interested citizen.

What is the best way for me to get political news on the BBC is it radio well? I think I actually increasingly people are looking to watch digital nothing in I think it's a real challenge bra.

Because you you informed by your own personal actions and I I know that im a look at my phone all the time for the latest developments, but I still very very much go to the same account needs to get the sum of the day and you also get a very thought about well-constructed delivery of what's the Marine experts to take Laura for example.

You know the Top Gear political journalists and I would say in this country is getting putting together her thoughts and summary in a very considered way and that's quite different to what you might pick up on Twitter or you might see online.

Will you see something breaking on the news channel, so I don't actually is part of the media landscape has changed so much.

It's just about consuming much more but I think the figures showed us that we just isn't there still that appetite for all of it, so yeah, it depends what you're looking for really but if you're interested in use I think there's yellow people are taking more more news in do you ever get time to switch off like when you're not?

On duty, do you do not check the news? They have lights are off due to this Saturday so I'm not going to be the newspapers.

Are you such a political addict? You can't keep away.

I'm a political addict and I can't keep away.

So when he eventually surprised you out of the job whenever that is in a few years.

What would you? What would be next week? Would it be something completely contrasting like would you be the BBC's relaxation correspondent not something I can send you on sparlings create that I don't know what she I think you need to think about politics as I said at the beginning and says it is really really addictive and I do try and find x where is switch off for actually as we talked about the kind of new Cycle it's quite difficult to leave that behind and you know as my for my job.

I'm on call all the time.

So if there isn't a tricky judgement to make about a tricky and political story.

That's that you know that's my job to make it so it's quite difficult to to switch off and say well.

I'm going to Saturday I'm not answering the phone because you're

You know the job is to always be available so I think the challenge actually is to see find another job.

That is as exciting and addictive as this one.

What's your personal journey? How did you even get into this like did you always want to be a journalist? How do you start out when I think I was really unusual because I I knew I want to work in broadcasting from about 12 or 13 and I started working in hospital radio as a newsreader.

I was very very bad.

I kept laughing which probably means this is why I'm the other side of the night for some time and then I used to work at capital radio in the holidays and then I join the BBC and when I was 19 and I have joined the world service as a radio production assistant, so the wonderful thing about working BBC is that you can go and work in lots of different departments and say I'm so I went as the reference at the beginning.

I went from there to Radio 4 the new.

Channel when it started I won't work to cross the 16 and 10 news and then went to Westminster 5 years ago and it really is so incredible place to work in actually because they're so many different opportunities so that I've been really very lucky, but I was a very old person when my children has been what what the other worry that they don't know what they're going to do when they're age 13.

Cos I did I can say what I was just a bit strange.

What might you do next I know you're refused answer it different jobs in BBC and I genuinely puzzled actually about what can be more exciting and every time.

I die when I left at 6 and 10.

I thought I'm not sure I find another job more enjoyable than that and it was a wonderful job and but Westminster actually for me.

It's been even more enjoyable.

So it will be a big decision when that time comes I mean Tony Hawk and gone forever.

Why you never know he might move over right and I can see myself in that chair.

So is this the stuff that's pretty good that I can decide now.

Is it like Game of Thrones End how you how do you actually, DJ I don't have to really really cleverly that you most proud of that last night in question isn't it over the last few years has been genuinely been fantastic.

I think personally for me over the last 5 years.

I was really proud of what was became known as the kitchen series and because we was a reminder Stansfield Ed Miliband two kitchens kitchen and it was for David Cameron the moment he announced that he wasn't gonna stand again for another election and no one knew he was going to say that and not even his staff there is

We got some good jainism out of it was because traditionally would always done and quite formal interviews with party leaders and I was actually just bored of watching them and and I do you were born in trouble and it was always on trains under and I just said we talked about it in in the office and said why don't we just see if we can put these people in different environments and and get the more relaxed and have different type of interview different discussion is not doing their favour as well to make it more interesting as we seem they actually got so relax a lot saying things that perhaps they may not have done secret This podcast grind people down because they're not going to stand again the Focus look so who's next and say that story went on and so that was that was probably my proudest achievement.

So when you eventually do move on to be.

Director-general and your seat is vacant what advice would you give to someone now starting out in journalism or there's maybe had a few years that that is interested in taking your job that wants to be head of BBC Westminster and the qualities that someone is actually achieved and secure the job you what do you think that? It is that you've got that makes you use Fitbit I think you have to be really confident in your editorial of you and that's a to any journalist.

I would say think about what you think the story is and and I'll do your case because everyone in the room will have different views on the politics that I think it's about knowing that if you're coming under pressure from political parties to use one line or use another line or swap stories Roundhay whatever is too again know that they are doing their job and they're not actually attacking you there.

Just trying to have some influence and to think about whether you're doing the right thing take a breath and consider your judgement and then stick to it and again that goes back to confidence and not feel he's a bully.

Intimidated and just stand your ground and be confident with your own views it so it's all about confidence when you install of normal social gatherings outside the BBC your door neighbours barbecue for example in everyone's having a good time and then someone you tell someone that your head of BBC Westminster do normal people say you're but I don't like the BBC there bison.

How do you have blind like your normal social role? Did you just say well? That's your view and move on I do you say well actually Bob you're wrong.

We weren't bloody hard to deliver a balance news problem and your own grateful.


It's actually surprising how many people feel that they can have a go at you at you at social your fault.

Yeah, so I'm in sometimes.

I just northern walk away and but most the time i z i tend to engage people and just say what what particular thing you thinking of and actually what's quite revealing is once you.

Explain decision process around starfall you explain the state didn't quite understand what they thought they understood which is often people get it wrong write a lot of people actually just end up saying alright.


I have better part of family party recently where someone the first person that I met you.

I haven't seen for 40 years Pulled Apart some of our place will cover it and it was really fun but actually they they just they completely kind of misunderstood.

What's the decision-making processes around it and and by the end of conversation.

Obviously I'd won the old man does it depress you a little bit louder in the United I've been in politics for quite some years need if I disagree with someone I don't have to be disagreeable as as Obama used to say but you don't people seem to be so quick to assume the worst of people now or is that me saying nostalgia? Isn't what it used to be in his political coverage and do it as always been rubbish day.

Just seems to be ever more canova vitriolic and quite quite nasty these days.

All my am I wrong.

Am I don't think it's nasty.

I do think you know there is a lot of stuff on social media that is incredibly strong and I think people feel that they can attack you in a way that they'd never to your face.

I think that's been a huge change.

I think mostly people face-to-face.

All I do is try and not have a colour fight with you, but I do think the politics in the last few years has been for the referendum has just been hugely divisive and I think was interesting working in this field is the politics is discussed in places that wouldn't be discussed normally you know if I was 510 years ago.

You might go to a party and no one will discuss the big political issue have the time who were the good old days were the only just have a few glasses of wine.

Enjoy yourself and now actually people who have real States and we know this don't movie split families etc, but that's what kind of firmly say interesting actually and because

I'm an addict.

I quite like it so I can go in and I can get involved and I can also no one talking about which is there any advantage at least tonight and let you know I have a great thing about politics actually as a real positive the people are genuine engaged.

You know they're really care and it matters and that's what's omeprazole about me, but he's clearly mobilized a load of new members that always existed that was blairites.

Just are they just took for granted that they did they'd been defeated and we're never going to get hold of party and they clearly weren't there was real people that have had their passions ignited his supporters Jeremy Corbyn would point to that absolutely and it's been a huge growth in the party membership and Like Us normal people for their rights for Britain he said he's had enormous.

Success in a field last question then and and this is genuinely not a question about their politics, but who your favourite politicians that I am not suggesting the phone second that it would be an endorsement are policies, but I like MPs that you get along better with an old parties really about getting because I wouldn't say that im peace and politicians are friends of mine.

I don't tend to socialise in that sense but in terms of a kind of work relationship.

I think actually politicians are at their best when they're open and can discuss it and I think they're house.

There was under the Blair area AUA vs.

Scripted messaging and that has continued to certain extent, but it's you get much more out of a politician if firm and they just more interesting and more persuasive.

I think if they are able to relax into what they actually believe and have a discussion on on a level publicly I mean not just privately about where they think their policies or or or opinion should go.

Southern try and just sick stick to the Script obviously wouldn't expect you to portray confidence but do you ever gets told Things Off the Record wear anything wow that was juicy? I wish I could put that to her that must be that must be the best part of the job.

There is a reason for it it sounds we're having secret conversations.

Just 4 m from for actually why politicians to explain to the listeners by politicians tell yourself off the record.

Is is is to inform the general currency of that story so that your you understand more you can write it in a way that informs your judgement and helps the audience rather than Justin hearing Beacon a tittle tattle, but it is also really interesting cos you'll end up with Laura savings on a light sources close to the home secretary hour of the few the XYZ as a few others well.

That's obviously the Home Secretary that said that she has to respect that confidence of someone who someone has great claims another prime minister's mind is of the view that x y z e d.

Clearly the prime minister.

What is the range of sources that she's not always that wouldn't wouldn't pretend to know but I wouldn't you know I would say that the sources come from a range of people but you know if you're going to use that kind of quoted language.

They would be people that's informed enough to allow you to say that on earth will Katie's been hugely enjoyable.

Thank you ever so much for your time right angles podcast in association with big things Media

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