Read this: The power of the columnist
Summary: PodcastDownload MP3 www.bbc.co.ukThe power of the columnist…
BBC sounds music Radio podcasts from BBC Radio for a newspaper column is prime minister cripes, so I started a is that self-appointed breed of public bloviator that ever expanding club of opinionated and column instability, which I must confess.
I've many years has a fully paid up member I'm talking of course of Britain's commentariat.
What honestly is the point of newspaper columnist who cares what they think and should they be punished somehow so wrong over the last few years and during my three of the biggest name in what I still call.
Fleet Street Janet Street-Porter of MailOnline the Independent newspaper column Cullen listening to his opinion on everything and I know having worked with you for many years that you generally do so under test your mettle and opinions.
What's your instant opinion about the free?
The M25 bad idea Britain's heatwave, what cry babies this is not the Daily Mail do you have an opinion please on the news that love Island is now going to be on twice a year.
I can't really say the word.
I want to say in response to that news Radio 4.
That's not bad.
Thank you from a very shortly but first I suggest a big and journalistic controversy.
That's all over the front pages this week.
I'm talking about the extraordinary story of Karl beach sometimes known as Nick this is a complex long and
The story with me to discuss it on Steven Wright of the Daily Mail and Alistair Jackson you know it's a tortoise Media but before that produced and directed a Panorama on this subject take both of you for your time the first recap in 2014, beach claim that had been sexually abused by an array of military and Secret Service bosses and politicians some household names.
He said they had raped tortured and even murder children the allegations were completely false made up and invention.
There is read by a newsagents in codex ro the fancy yourself as a new chapter in investigative journalism stories from July 2014 onwards including a front page that posted VIP paedo ring Sensation at the news organisations including the BBC £2000000 investigating it close the case in 2016 without a single a rest and this week's beach was convicted of 12 counts of perverting the course of justice and 1 of fraud so what?
Containers learn from this whole of the gaping holes in his story what I thought I would say it's quite simple Harvey Proctor the former.
Tory MP who was falsely accused of being a serial child killer.
What's now termed a game-changing press conference where he basically revealed all the allegations made against him.
I wasn't at that press conference today, but when I got back and to read the papers from when I was away frankly it was just common sense that these allegations could not be true.
I didn't have to be well.
I think so anyway and experience crown attorneys to know it.
Just could not be true the challenge then was obviously to find out in a post, Levinson error.
It's difficult to have contact informal contact with police officers.
What was going on investigation and within a few days.
You know the another doubts and I was told about the serious doubts within the enquiry about how it has been run.
I will come back to earth II what any of you with the police areas in this case the police eriswell.
I mean to say that promotes the child I was shocked even at the trial about the level of incompetence.
I had a good idea for the trial but a lot has been said about believing him in the allegations of him.
They basically the DVD from the initial interviews which are very Softly Softly not challenging and then of course and the ludicrous allegations in the trial about head of MI5
6 years in a human dartboard and his dog being sold by the head of MI5 needs really rude address for imaginative put it in your head this press, 9 months before before the Daily Mail started changing the next event where they described in this credible and true so just bring us to Jackson is Panorama exora the news agency collaborated with many Media organisations on this story and he does do you think it's naive or something worse that people bought their story story am I don't know what was going on in the news Newsroom what is BBC News I think that's from what I can gather.
They didn't challenge him enough about his version of events and
Yeah, I mean that that that that that that didn't do enough due diligence before putting on prime time that I would say I don't have the Sunday People with printed of this stuff if I can use alright you know it's sad that the Sunday People have a very good.
It is not the appropriate was he was one thing for the Sunday People and eggs are O2 run the stories.
When is BBC did it and I'll see off the back of the net saying he was troubleshoot the story to a whole new level near am ok.
Let me know when you said you were gonna Panorama against Derby this case reflect public hysteria, after the Jimmy Savile story.
I think it's really see what happened in remember.
What those times.
I like when I was in so depressed country talk about it was at the press conference and it's quite interesting as I think there's two ways you could go when you heard credible and true was one then.
Replacement have something you know they're going to come out and say that I think the other way of looking at it was to be aware of how the police have changed post Savile and how they were in the mindset now with being confident that these types of validation people coming forward so what the question that turned out to the right question was what are they doing saying that rather than they must have something positive thinking in many ways The Journey The journalists and the police ended up in a similar sort of place.
You know about sneaking into his wasn't tested.
He wasn't tested for fear of being accused of making those missing same mistakes of the past and not taking the sour victim seriously this is actually quite a simple story to check when he was so Ludacris fantastical 2 inventions all the key sources with honourable reliable people well.
I mean that the thing the thing that we did and it turned out to be surprised and the police have done for months was in the allegation of murder in broad daylight a child in running down outside the school in Kingston and we.
Show me some people out there knock on doors.
Did you do remember any such incident remembering I'm sitting in the British Library going to all the local papers.
No trace of his teachers were spoken to we would be the kind of power that we were there before the police and there was no record for the very least outdoor to come in there, but I think you know in that world to talk about postal.
They were simply waiting for other people to come forward, but they were then waited and of course the allegations were so absurd and Harvey Proctor said them and by that you know the searches were carried out on the basis of very little ruining reputations and it's worth remembering that before the the mindset of the police have changed so much that before we went out with the Panorama a to pay statement was issued by them absolutely trashing the program and the she's saying that this was set back the cost of child abuse investigations year 4, how do you catch his journalistic relations with the metal please Jenny now you talk about how to change postal I think Steven Martin I'm Alright Justin Bieber
They certainly more difficult but I think I think that this this was a cost.
This was one of the consequences of all that there was that sort of as you said lack of information if you like more difficult to understand.
What was really going on but also that sort of fear of not wanting to burn the police so much you take their word for it.
Thanks so much.
Do you write to you you mention it Levinson change the relation between jealous and the police lot of people around who loves himself and that's only got too close to the police.
What's a healthy relationship between the police and journalism.
I would say this at the very least I mean when I was crying at the paper.
We would meet the commissioner and it once a month and holding two accounts over big investigate looking p.
What will be now? She may not wish to answer the questions with that is the bottom line.
I think that there has to be.
More openness in the mat, they did not want the Daily Mail and analysis Panorama programme to investigate Nick an operation Midlands you know the emails the I got the phone calls.
I got back when we started exposing him.
There has to be leeway so that officers have some discretion if they have some concerns about the running enquiry that you can talk to the media Without Fear of an over-the-top reaction from there buses that one of the temperature at those sort of things down my boss got it was told Dan Stevens doesn't doesn't know what we've got called a killer mean.
No no I know you don't know you've Steven doesn't know what is what we've got and that was to try to think that was a deliberate attempt to plant doubt in my mind that was sorted for Alistair
That was a gap between working on his program was very good for for quite some months, but it was it was and I got I got a phone call again when I step warning me about my enquiries and intimidation the day a former newspaper columnist is prime minister whatever next well that look back at some of Boris Johnson's old telephone Telegraph columns.
Here is a sample of his foreign affairs thinking from 2007a home and I brewed the name to my amazement a face seems to form in my mind's eye she's got dyed blonde hair than pouty lips and a Steely blue star notes in a mental hospital.
Yes, he's talking about Hillary Clinton and four years on and Mr Johnson has turned his attention to economics, I I have the solution.
I have an export-led answer to Britain's current economic difficulties.
We need to export Ed Miliband to China we need to send Ed Balls to India and all the rest of the Labour lots to aging Latin American and African countries that are currently outperforming the UK and finally a satirical Colin from earlier this year on the perils of brexit you no particular order and will run out of Mars bars in drinking water and ornamental horticulturists there will be a desperate shortage of cheese and electricity and vital medicines such as Viagra are restaurants with black cleaning staff and tea.
Thank you very much indeed to Sean Mason of the BBC radio drama company for giving voice to a few of Johnson's Telegraph career as a columnist lasted over 20 years and has the explosion in our pundit class been a benefit or burden to a public domain welcome one and all to this colony.
What's the cost of the media show free service Paris and Janet Street-Porter here? What's the role of economist mines and then to write something that in equal measure in rages them or they say that's exactly what I think and you know you've hit the nail on the head when your email was on your Twitter account your social media is outraged and thanks for saying it at the same time.
I think one of the things that have the last 20 years in newspapers that news has become less and less valuable.
We've got the 24-hour news cycle and it's all over Twitter and everything so what people perhaps look for is kind of analysis and that's why I think you seem such an explosion in commentators, and I think past the job I mean actually Janet's completely right you want to get out of a visceral response, but you also want to be presenting the
Events of the week the big short stories in a sort of in a slightly more interesting tangible kind of conversation away and that's what I think that's one of the things you will depart at one of the important things when you're writing problem.
Is is not so much always what you say, but just getting the topic right just hitting the nail on the head and making sure what you're writing about something that people orange to do if you produce about 2 people yes sometimes.
I hope it's not my main purpose but a little bit of in back to you for a bit of stirring things up and sometimes.
I'm taking the brexit thing.
I'm taking sides does a remainer and yes, I do it.
I do rather enjoy in rating for somebody what's your main purpose? Well, I think I think it looks at what's happening try to think honestly about it trying to have some ideas about possible explanations possible arguments and then runs with something.
Turn on always show that the idea of the argument you're running with should prevail or is right, but you think it's strong and you think it needs to be heard little bit like a defence counsel or prosecuting counsel you you make case as best you.
Can you have a bit of fun doing it and always always you try to keep your reader's with you and you ever said that to knowingly offend.
Yes, why do some people irritate me.
I'll be about that.
I was a little bit sad fact that I don't ever just be honest.
I haven't got a pre-prepared response to microphones that what about the dead because after after Dame Tessa Jowell de Europa con which listen to her qualities but also described in terms that her at that time grieving family might find her for you said she was a mediocre politician and no sense in the original think.
Earlier publication yes and a rebalancing the historical record, but was your motivation partly that you think the idea that we shouldn't speak ill of the dead is itself a z.
I do think it's amazing and I do think the idea that you speak ill of someone when they're in the news and have just dyed is is pretty foolish because that's the time when people want to read about them is no good writing about 10:00 now actually I liked that a child but I did think that in the British media and political establishment.
It is possible.
Just by doing a lot of our kissing.
I took two to be held in the hirer garden anything you've actually done married, but you right there what frequency got the right to appears in Europe well.
I just kind of I read the papers every morning.
I listen to today.
I listen to p.m.
I just made things over then I took two.
A wide range of people because obviously doing presenting TV shows as well.
I meet a lot of people who don't read newspapers at all.
So I hear what they're interested in and then I have to get really annoyed about some to be perfectly honest I have to kind of stew over it a good example is when Notre Dame burnt down and everybody rushed on air rushed into prince a a mega disaster would a tragedy this iconic building was being you know it was in ruins and I'll call Saul they're all the emoji pictures of the flames and everything and so I wrote a column for hire on which I was really pleased about that said hold on a minute all these mega millionaires are vets What I Call Dick on table time if it can say that at 4:30 in the afternoon, what shall we can?
Fundraising so what happened immediately the buildings in flames before the appeals gone out all the richest people in France surveying to donate each bettencourt family and are no because I don't think that buildings should be this because he's not in a good place to write a column when you're angry is that the thing you've got his invective you overtaking bypassing that's a moment to start writing a column that because you want to share your point but you've also got a temperature, but I'm in the other week.
Matthew wrote the most brilliant column about a Boris Johnson it was our rank from start to finish absolutely 100-percent infected of all things that are wrong with Boris Johnson and I sat there and read it on Saturday morning.
I thought I wish I'd written that it was brilliant plagiarizing at some point.
Boris Johnson works himself up when writing a column and ends up you could hear him in his room shouting throwing things around to get himself cross a lot of people would think well that's alright, but I have any columnist knows exactly what he was doing.
It's what channel was doing a minute ago.
You have to get yourself worked up with the idea.
I don't I know I have I just don't I mean I I like to think about what I'm writing ready, but I think that I because I started out in journalism as a TV listings sub-editor and not as a writer I come at it from the other end of the things that I was I was always editing and for years and years and literally I was editing other people's columns and I always felt that I was so they were the great staff and I was just so you know grab who was taking up spelling mistakes, so when I eventually then you know the ranks in became of commissioning editor and then and then a writer.
I always took me a long time to have the confidence to actually say what I thought so with me as a conduit slightly differ.
I'm always trying to say I'm trying to sort of thing myself into other people's shoes and and imagine how they are thinking about subject rather than just rushing in with my pitchfork and the thing is I am.
I think I wasn't things I find very difficult about the modern world is social media and I think that everything is so knee-jerk at the moment and people just born such such sort of complete and polarised opinions about people they've met will actually read any other stuff to I try not to do that.
That's maybe Tesco short the longer.
I love writing the short shorts of what I really hard.
I need a joke or if it is again as I had to basically what headlines and Sam person.
They are basically short because you're basically summarising the story hopefully it in a way that's going to make the reason I want to actually read the long words, so what's your approach to shorten as a different?
Let them like the sort of nuggets throughout the course of the week and I just put them on my notes on my phone and so I just write them down or I send myself links and stuff and there's a the time to write a column.
I've got like a pile of them.
When is the fireworks still works and what doesn't everything I read a Terre a Terre absolutely everything and Mark and then I have files of obsessive.
I like that one.
I do right once a week for the Independent and I agree with you the shortest really really hard and then pulled a cat always used to say darling.
The only people anyone in the only thing anyone read the short shorts good team does Mata but the thing that people most often respond to are the short because they just need a funny or pity or whatever you mentioned buldoga.
Do you think that writing for people at the opportunity drager colonists board positions at more forthright the name of the company that has a solid reputation, but he never thought much about anything.
I didn't want to ride.
Neverland on dialysis you want their opinions in the paper and see you as a vehicle to be a leader writer so that you have actually I completely forgot sometimes we spoke about what's your other intros.
You have this minute thing that the guys I started on the Daily Mail in life.
I got the tool how to write an opening paragraph is men on the backbencher in back in.
This is like 19 6970.
What white nylon shirts with string vest Manchester house on the 20th later and all exactly the same as a rule is your opening two sentences has got a grab you got to write the first two sentences and the last one and the rest will sort itself out and I very much right as if I'm talking to you.
I get it all in my head and then I was always talk to you had to basically get the whole story in the first paragraph of anyone packed it throughout the rest of the Beast dyslexic and spoke it.
Edited by drinking it was quite hard ahead and pick all the words that will only be long word long and then cut it down.
No I know it's a really bad.
I don't I just I just write it straight to yours 1050 words and so do you write 1200 every week and then wait for the substrate down you put it down yourself and I would never leave that sort of thing to the sun snow but I always write 2 or 300 words too long then cut it and it's not a good thing to do because something should flow and you can cut without losing the sense, but often the source of natural flow of things with this.
I wish I could learn a parental PIN to go off in my head when I reach 2000 because I was trained on tabloids.
I was always told that no story ever need to be long and 800 word basically if you can't say it under words.
It's saying yeah, I think we're like racehorses actually runners.
Medicine every way to write about this subject do Crimea this week and you don't feel like crying at all.
It's Friday morning crap.
So I feel immediately irritated by bridal.
I feel prickly that's nothing to do with you.
I still write about what I want to write column is my usually find that my senior on the paper was right and has a better news since then I heard that you can find anything about you.
Have you ever been when you didn't want to to write about your husband Michael Gove and it must be a bad people ask me all the time and then and then I just say no if I don't want to know ever been met with her actually you will know the data brother who's the prime minister has been honest with autocorrect the column by Mr Johnson which claim that a no deal with most popular choice of the British Public then earlier this year the Telegraph said in his defence that Mr Johnson was entitled to make sweet and general.
Basis opinion, it's just the claims in his column should not be taken seriously because it keep the peace was clearly, comically polemical and could not be reasonably read as a serious and purple in-depth analysis of hard.
Is it fair? Is it say that colours are held to different standards to reporters.
Yes, I think we are and I think having said that they are much more rigorous fact-checking than there was 20 years ago and only last week.
I wrote something for the MailOnline and suddenly a compliance person said I have said people were in the English Channel on boats arriving here on boats everyday and well.
They are this week, but not this year so it had turned down because it kind of floating what I was writing anyway.
I don't write whatever just put the word if it makes you feel better still getting Fleet Street a really good service from.
Sub-editor on the Times time and again, so that it is rescued me from the most appalling blunders and and Holy Cross but they usually write how important are the colours do events on the colon.
There are columns where a bit of Investigation talking to people even going to places makes a difference.
I don't know if another column is feel as I do not want to go anywhere or talk to anyone.
I just think the ideas will come out of my own head.
I am then advised that it would be a good idea to have a word with Michael Gove about this as all the other actually go to Sunderland and I never regretted.
I never regret talking to people are going to places all that I never want to give me know I also write Peaches and I think that's quite important.
You are a con this to a district set those commissions because they have their out of your rat has diminished in the age of social Media campaign Bernard Levin was right for the people that are much more open opinionated and they can express themselves.
Currently and a you, so yes, I agree, but I think that's also good really.
What sort of you.
I don't you know I think ordinary people should have use and they should Express the power in the role of colonists, does it mean if there's a big difference between having a can of view that is 20 words on Twitter and actually being able to express it clearly concisely precisely eloquently entertainingly characteristics are that you want there is a big difference between most people can't write columns.
They are very difficult to write really yes, do you want to eventually the parent the more you do it the better you get it, but it does take practice but beneath our columns in modern newspapers online.
There is no like that an opportunity to post the readers to post their own opinions.
I tried to read most of them most of them.
Don't know what they're talking about summer abusive summer in cm.
Every now and again you read something written at length and you think I actually that's actually really good, and I've just realised it is a good, thanks so much for listening.
I'll be back in a couple of weeks.
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