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Media Masters with Paul Blanchard
welcome to media Masters series of one-to-one interviews with people at the top of the media game by James Harding co-founder and editor of tortoise Media starting at the Financial Times China editor Washington Bureau chief.
He then became business editor at the times and a year later went on to Eddie the newspaper for five years time it when the pressure was newspaper of the year twice in 2013.
He became director of news and current affairs at the BBC a position he held for five years before announcing his departure shocking those who predicted text director-general created with the end of slowing down the new cycle tortoise is the biggest journalism project ever launched on Kickstarter James thank you for joining me for my croaky voice forgive me for my Imposter syndrome reading out with that literally of achievements.
I feel like a total loser.
I got my mum to write tell us about generating by the minute.
Is a demand for slow news clearly the guys behind the headlines in 2016 so both the referendum in the UK but you also had the trump election in the US and they were these two big argument happening around the news one was that the BBC have an important problem you don't like the side you perceive it was on the lever main argument and then in the US Donald Trump was really after the news around concrete fake news.
I remember I'm thinking myself no problems, but they're not the problem that I see having spent you know by then a couple of decades in the news and it would really this sense that the new is very same me that we're all in a hell of a hurry the news of you say is accelerating the volume of contact is just more and more and as a result of that and you smell so good.
Faster and thicker and thinner you're on the record of saying newsrooms produce too much news you you can't seem to get more thrill or you tend to see news that feels like it's feeding a headline addiction, but not really helping you understand the world and so I think that there's not a place for breaking news.
I mean have a nose in the world were at the moment you want to know what just happened.
It's just that when you look at the the different providers so many of them are doing the same thing so many of them are about being first or being fastest and the idea that tortoise is really about this to say it's going to be about reporting that I'll be about understanding and to do that it felt as though they were too really great heresies that we needed to embrace one was that you could be slow and somehow get
Closer to what was really going on and the other one was that you could be open that you wouldn't necessarily just tell people the news you have a system for listening and so everything is a slow journalism, and that's what we're trying to do and how's it going to said to me last week, so I think it's going better than we deserve which I talk into it and I think it's off to start a new and new Newsroom and your business better than we deserve it as good as you can hope for in that.
It's a it's just up in a very fast changing environment in terms of economic model that also appetite for information and so you can't for a minute think that you're there we have left the BBC in January of last year 2018 so it's very early days, but actually my first six months.
We've just got to the point with nearly 20000 members sign.
All paid for we've got 20 + partners that we working with we now just begin to see that momentum around our thinking so the central thing for us is that we open news meeting every day in our Newsroom and once a week out on the road somewhere in the country or internationally but mostly around the UK and would just begin to see that too.
We could begin Brown have a nice problem of it selling out.
You don't know what to do when you don't have ruined people are sending an email saying can I join so we feel like we've got some but I think that you are as suggested by the name tortoise we know that this is a long race and it will take a while.
So then we deserve I think it is a good start remember you because I thought you would be DG and I think I history is written by the Victor isn't it like for example if this becomes.
Success in the long term people say how clever you were now, but if it goes wrong people see I Threw It All Away to chase a pipe dream.
Yes, I'm and look I think for 5 years.
It was incredibly interesting and you have been through to general elections in that time Two referendums Scotland and the US presidential election and the BBC is an extraordinary organisation or organisation in the world, but you know when you have those moments where you think well, it's not really question where I'm trying to navigate my career.
I know that if I don't do this now.
I'll never get the chance.
There's a certain moment where you think I actually have been part of the start-up and setting things up with a partnership of people and a small groups can have a go at the moment.
You can do it once you've missed it.
You missed it and I believed I have.
If you like a very institutional life in journalism terms, I've been at the Financial Times the times and the BBC and it wasn't really a question of where does it take you it was real question if you don't do it now you never will but it must have been a purposeful active courage to do it because you staying at the BBC would have been playing safe as I said, I was really excited.
I was really excited by the prospect and definitely frightened frightened that you know you wouldn't get a great group of people and that's been if anything the most rewarding thing is this the people that we got a tortoise so you know merope Mills who was life on the west coast for the Guardian and John Hill who was the creative designer at the Telegraph and Chris Cook who was on Newsnight em Raven Stamford been doing a lot of the BBC stories work online and Chelmsford town from the Times Alexi mostrous to and Matt d'ancona.
Weather for The Spectator Aretha akbar who's been a brilliant writer on on the Arts and then Dave Taylor this amazing gang of brings people together is really fun and then you're in a small office and you're not you know the BBC unbelievable for the BBC is a new housing people in this week's over and it was a what do you know I suppose once you get started is the answer to only one question which is you like it.
You don't know whether it's going to succeed or fail.
You don't know how people are going to receive it, but you do know that on Friday you walked out of 8000 people supposedly working together in this organisation that you responsible for and then the Monday you're in your kitchen thinking of doing the start.
And you only find out by doing it whether you like it and I found that my love.
I would have been the challenges along the way that you expected and what have been the challenges along the way they have been foreseen so challenges that you expect other ones that she wants so what's your business model how much your pricing technologies says they do expect only does the square root of x and how you going to make it work the ones that I hadn't expected it is I guess of to the first is incredibly in that you think you'll be a steward startup and you'll be kind of one of those kids in sneakers and jeans and somehow you'll be young as a result and actually your old because you're incredibly aware of tastes.
Set by age at the generation gap that we are living with the moment is a real thing in a
Probably hasn't been since the late 70s early 80s that the fundamental sections not just about the way in which we consume Media but actually all the values that surround it about our politics or business also is really happened to you and in a way that really challenges the things that your commissioning the the things that were holding that's a big big train and the second I wouldn't expect but I have to say I've loved is that there's a mood around the Mews quite widely held if you had a Washington DC almost palpable in London recently to where people are just disillusion with what's happening in the world where they just just please.
Why don't I just switch off the news and tune in to Classic FM don't want to listen to this anymore news brexit free exactly it was not to have to go anywhere near there.
Which has been if you like a challenge but also a liberation was realising that there's a totally different way of taking what's happening which is a spur action on activism and I didn't expect that at this age and stage I come out of this whole process thinking hang on a second.
There's a really happy lens through which we see all this which is it it's an incitement to do something.
It's not the time to sort of switch off all or tune out actually whether or not you are energized about the travel politics, so we've launched a series of thinking about the rules about whether or not the UK needs a written constitution, so we understand that individual rights and responsibilities in politics if you're looking at things in in in our lives on scandals in Plain Sight that are just going on remote we can't think differently about.
Mental health we can think differently about the way which the state intervenes or disrupt the family and actually I find that has been really energizing and so having thought that you would spend a lot of time worrying about the business model of a new start-up which I do my co-founder and I Katie vanneck-smith.
Who was at the Wall Street Journal she'll I spend a lot of time thinking about me, but also we spend a lot of time thinking about what to do about what you want to do about the world as we find it and that's been surprised if you buy The Guardian are you take the Telegraph you choosing the lens through which we see the world in a sense but one of the things that interest me really got told to see these thinking allowed to be truly participatory.
So so the model is that yes, you're right.
I think there is an issue about the filter bubble that existed before the filter Bubble Witch is Fleet Street but there's a there's an opportunity.
I think if you.
Which is a little over claim a little awkward trying to do which is to say instead of thinking that journalism is about this telling people what's going on but starting with the idea that drummers and can be about John this listening to people to find out different points of View different experiences and I'll think it is essentially that as a model so in a way which took the university lecturer and said how we could set some rules here we could digitise it and then we can open it up.
We tried to do the same with an editorial meeting with that we took a classic times leader conference and instead of having you know journalists and editors draped over the sofas we had our Newsroom people by lots of different people who got experience of different things and different points of View and try and through the course of the hour of the thinking here as many points of View
Consensus you can't do that, but do try to use that as a way of finding leaves that drive your journalism and do use it as a way of coming to a better informed point of view and the thing that's been thrilling about it.
Is that that's really happened? It's really sad really found that I learn a set of stories from the people come to our Newsroom and I also fine.
I think differently as a result of all I hear he thinks of really opened up journalism and put an end hopefully to that kind of top-down command and control gel as well.
Paul Dacre tells his readers want to think changing a lot in in lots of different ways that you know it's silly to say that happening in a you know the small Museum in London when you've had Twitter and install and all of these new platforms which are giving but there is something different about we hope with a thinking is a system of organised listening and
One of the things that was really important to us with this idea that it's not just listening, but it's organised that you're trying to make sure you go to I think you are having prepared the notes on the subject so you come and hurt well briefed and well informed that when you come out the other side you come away with a tortoise take a point of view on it most importantly in the course of the hour you really make sure you listen to as many different views as possible and we started off but one of the things you know you make lots and lots of me and some of the ones that you make and just tiny and then it opens up a whole new world and we did one early on about the future of the brain and was terrible it was really boring and flat and everyone was really nervous because we had a Nobel Prize winner in the room and no one wanted to speak and it was asking questions and at the end of it.
We thought Katie
I said microphone we went through torch not working here and then we realised that we will recreate on the panel discussion was exactly what we wanted to get rid of and came up with a rule and I think it has this one rule which is no questions.
You're not allowed to ask a question you got to say what you think or talk about your personal experience and the result of that is that it forces everyone would you like be much more direct about where they're coming from but also it's an acknowledgement that you don't think that the stages are on the stage.
You think that is a collective wisdom in the room and as far as possible you can tap into that.
I don't want to come across on Michael Govan the death of experts about how do you how do you reconcile them because you have got a Nobel Prize winner and professor about the brain, but you've also got lazy people like me.
I mean where is not equal we are.
Equality under the law equality of lived experience like that but but I think the what we're trying to do is make sure that you mix technical expertise with the force of of of someone's experience so actually if you take an example like the brain and absolutely there are people who got a depth of experience on what happening expertise.
Sorry what's happening in terms of medical research.
You know you don't want me digging around in there.
I don't know what I'm doing but you also going to have people in the room who lived with people who have dementia or different kinds of mental health issues and and I think that so that you can have the meeting of those Minds is really important.
So I'll give you a really simple example way from away from the brain.
We didn't think in the very first one we did.
Cryptocurrency perfect because it was the time when bitcoin was going crazy lots of people like me were talking about it, as if we understood it, but we could get together on something that we understand.
Have you got a room of people together and the question we asked was ban regulate or embrace cryptocurrency and so we had some of the common with someone who wouldn't understand how the Bank of England work someone who was you know there was someone else running a tech platform in cryptocurrency and a whole room of people and in the course of the conversation someone's made a very sensible point that you shouldn't ban regulate or Embrace the currency.
It's not really a currency is an asset.
It's like you know gold or something and you should do with it what you doing other assets, which is you should tax it and you should use the tax system as away.
People who have badly and making sure that it probably over seen this wouldn't happen in a normal Newsroom it's only if you've got that mixed people testing their ideas against each other talking about their experience.
So you might get somewhere because they probably have on the Today programme and I'm news channel.
Is it is it is in a sense gladiatorial that you know when two people on this subject that vastly oppose each other above dug in and I'm going to make their point in 2-minutes disagree with each other then there were none the Wiser know how you deal with that problem because they're asked time arguments where the reality is that there are two fundamentally different points of the Road to Travel and and you can't create a false harmony there and actually as a citizen you kind of want to hear what the different points of View are so actually I still think there's
There's a lot of room for gladiatorial arguments it helps me understand better what I think and the choice that I might want to make the differences happens, if you want to do a journalism that is an again.
I I worry about some of sounding like you got an answer when with scrabbling around to get going but what happens if you want to do a journalism that constructive or you're trying to answer actually was really useful then it is to be able to listen to a group of people who have different views, but also be alive to someone who might have an option of going forward is that available to you then you very much I'm doing something for me.
I mean we started tortoise on the back of a conversation actually had of the BBC and once about could you do a program that was the mirror image of Question Time called answer time and cause you can't read the BBC cos you can't have a publicly funded program.
Making policy recommendations, but you can do exactly that and there's something about that.
That's quite interesting and constructed and different from the you know she said she said all he said she said model I don't watch Question Time anymore because also feel he's doing a great job my blood pressure can't stand it.
I mean only the panels are each other but then the audience terrible as well.
I tried to do what I said to keep my wife when I come one of those people who's trying to ensure that the radio and of course it's quite hard in the last few no 18 months not we've had those moments to be honest with you though.
That's the Politics of written and part of the reason why I think there's an option for a different kind of news organisation like tortoise is that that world is super served at world of what just happened.
Something immediate to say about it.
It's usually served the the world of journalism where you're trying to understand.
You know not what I'm reading the news that was driving.
That's a that's there's rumours rumours thing for that kind of journalism.
Is there a tortoise web handling a subject like brexit because you just said then what I would really want as a as a listen if the reader is not there a load some people that on the remain on the brexit side.
There's sneering remainers and there are no closet racist brexiteers, but they're also sensible people on a charger and I'd love to hear from non shouting representatives of both of those sites of big things if you like one was we ask Chris Cooke just try and take a good long time to understand what happened in the designing of the deal and so he spent I think was about 4 months and did a really in-depth piece of reporting to Whitehall
And what all the arguments for having a Westminster understand who were the civil servants that would designing the deal that we would live by why would being so problematic and why if you like Theresa May got come so I'm stuck it was called defeated by brexit and it did I think explain the choice that the government faced and it did so by the time to listen to the people who were working on the small print that was really useful but I suppose the more energizing and more engaging thing that we did we stopped at the beginning of the year.
I thought I was position going to be on brexit and this is one of the moment.
Where is sitting with a group of Citizens who cares who is really going to change their minds as a new Newsroom says that most people are in their positions anyway, and so we started thinking about how would we think about the lessons of the last few?
And get up and over the immediate leave remain question and think about how our politics needs to change as a result of it and we started looking at questions like why is it so unclear who and how a general election is called give him a fixed-term parliament acts or why is it that we seem to have such a different understanding of what our democracy is in different parts of the country.
Not just between the four Nations but you know given evolution and why is it that we seem to have at the very heart of our system our argument between Direct democracy and the answer of a referendum and representative democracy the sovereignty of Parliament we need to stop doing these things out and we started looking at the fact that the UK as one of only five countries in the world without a written constitution and she was only 3 democracies and you thought there is a space that a slow Newsroom with an approach that open journalism.
Can actually make a difference if we start listening to people you know people with constitutional expertise, but you know citizens who care about the running of our politics if we actually ran a series of things that tried to say how would we shape the future of our politics on the back of this whole process and that exactly what we doing and so we're running the series of thinking is called the rules to work out.
What are the rules by which we want to live so that we actually restore some confidence in our politics and in our democracy if I can remember my constitutional law module for my degree codified constitution and what I took away from that ultimately that it suits the government at the time to have it that way because everyone gets in quite likes the vagaries of it means I can get away with doing a bit more than the allowed to I did I think that felt like the system that we rather proud of that for a long time and beauty of the British system has been in pragmatism and its flexibility.
I don't know I think in the last 5-years you were going to ask yourself well really so you can have a referendum in Scotland where people have the age of 16 can vote but not in the rest of the UK or decided to impose a fixed-term Parliament Act so suddenly you need to have a two-thirds majority to be able to get a general election but only a you know 50% majority in order to have a vote of no confidence and the whole thing feels really squeaky even you know this was sold this before the Supreme Court ruling but the truth is that you now got a situation where the Supreme Court has ruled the prime minister's actions as unlawful and you don't think the supreme court is right.
It was quite nice to know that the rules were set and the people understood them and they were respected I mean in American they would have a mission statement, but we're less favourable here in Britain more proof that what's the point of it? You know why do you get out of bed to run? This is it to reshape the site? Is it to have an army of citizens are better informed?
And Socratic dialogue or is it is it a money-making both so the reason that we started it and I think the reason they got together to do this.
Is that anyway? I thought there was a different way of doing journalism and we needed an approach that was as I said slow and open there is also an element if you like our third Harrison slow and fast open rather than just telling me is that actually we do care about what happens next if you drop in the news from the idea that the sort of orthodoxy is you go and Report the story bringing the information get a paper round and the world will make a decision about what happens next actually we started on the day that we first published.
I wrote a long piece too long for me long.
He's saying what we have for organisations.
By instinct and tell you what they are against they can be outraged by things actually were really keen to say let's be a Newsroom that will set up what with all and yes, we do want to come to a better informed point of view so that we address the problems that we face so that you know you look at the 21st century and think well with face by politics that in the 19th century and were facing a set of problems with entirely different so we organise ourselves around these themes.
These is big forces reshaping our Society they are technology our planet identity wealth and the 100-year life and thought how we going to understand those forces so that yes, we can come up with ideas that will help men society where we can and improve it where possible so it's it's deliberately constructed we do care about the outcomes we do carers.
What happens next and it's the natural extension if you like of the campaigning nature of newspapers and Sun news organisations, but it's intended to be one that we do community of members with a people who sign up and become members and Tortoise and we do that together and therefore a Newsroom with a bit of think tank thrown it because you also have the problem that the minute you start to conclusions.
You've got a position to advocate.
Have you not mean I remember when the George Entwistle was on the Today programme for example the BBC rightly challenged him and that his resignation would there be an auntie tortoise where you would have taken a position invite people to challenge that yes, I'm we do that at all times with journalism with our thinking to make sure that we hear the counter point of view.
I don't think tanks phoning it's more a bit of picnic, but it's more that get everyone out and thinking together and in a much more informal and less hierarchical way.
Figuring out a way that you understand if people different experiences of a of a problem and then try and make the case for how you addressed it, so I'll give an example we series a colleague of mine.
Polly Curtis one of our editors.
Have done a long series of reports for over the course of the year on family separation.
How is it that the state separates mothers and children with parents and children to start with the recognition that a problem has been a big increase in that level of family separation then understand the forces that make that happen and then come to a set of proposals about what you do next you definitely need that to be challenged at every step but the reason I say picnic is that we try to bring every it's not a closed process and one of the things that polygon is not only go off and do the traditional reporting speaking to all the people involved but make sure that our members tortoise.
Join up as a part of members panels to inform us of where we think we should be covering the story and where we think we should be taking proposals for the four how to address the problem so it's intended to be like at the beginning not just open but organised and in that sense.
It's much more much more popular and more personal and something that's if you liked them behind closed doors reader in mind for example.
I think it's a great great organization, but I also want to review of the latest Terminator movie songs by Empire Magazine and I think one of the things you've got to do when you start these things off is make sure that you're clear about the things you're not going to do right so I would really recommend Empire Magazine go and do that that's not that's not a line of work and there are a whole bunch of publications broadcasters are doing stuff that we're not doing.
I'm not gonna try to do but in terms of Weir people to actually we've been really clear and Katie mycofarm has been really focused on this idea that we got open to as wide a variety of people as possible because frankly if we get lots of people that begin with the same basically people like you and me didn't sort of discussing the world's problems.
We might very well end up with some rather say me thinking of our own so we started as you said at the beginning with a kickstart.
We start the year with just over 40% of our members 130 then ours.
We've grown that number train to little bit of just under 40% under 30 years old so doing much younger.
We launched a student program in September with a big sign up as students.
We have been really clear that we want to make sure we're not just speak.
People who are living and working in around our newsroom in London we take our thinkings on the road outside M25 every Wednesday and Thursday will travel around the country and then we've also set up a network to enable people who had a couldn't afford or wouldn't probably think of joining tortoise to get signed up and become part of our so you know I worked at the BBC and watch the way in which Question Time worked and the most important thing to me about Question Time of the program itself was how carefully they thought if you want to build a news organisation that is driven by its membership.
That's informed by the membership.
You really want to make sure that not only is it big but it's varied and apple working on what's next time was Top of the to-do list.
I'm really ambitious for it.
I really want to make sure that journalistic Lee we do things that everyone says have you seen that did you?
Did you watch that did you read that and did you listen to it? So we've got a series of investment pieces that were working on that I'm really excited by and I believe we're really landing as those punches that a big thing to do one thing that we've learnt is just quite how much are members love audio.
We're doing more and more that is audio and we're building a tortoise podcast plan podcast a waste of time.
Thank you so much and you don't know exactly what I would say about that and then the the real thing is it in in the next year what we want to do is that the new model of a module is what we call a case file can really work so taking a particular story and rather than just reporting it if you like prosecuting it, so we've got this idea.
Which is that it's sitting if you like, I'm a laugh I like a lawyers file with a pink ribbon wrapped around it and you open it up and you just keep coming back at the same subject to properly understand it until you get the point that you know what you think needs to be done to address it and so in the next 6-months what you'll see also as well.
That is a series of case files in the way which we done family separation, but now looking at white-collar crime and a and a few other things so we are a wee sizing we don't take your data or sell it or do anything like that what we do is invite you to become a member and I'll membership has paid for and so the real measure of success over time is going to be to build a solid membership that pays for tortoise because they want to be a part of it.
They come and participate in our thinkings in the room or online and they and they believe in.
Amazon that comes out of it, so will there ever be a situation as I'm a pain when were told as myself, you asked me to leave and come up here because I've not participated anything and I've not react to anything.
I've just nearly are you looking for all of the members to be hiding gauged? I don't know I don't know this stage for 6-months and not telling you look we want people to be engaged and lots and lots of different ways some people really love coming to the thinking some people email as a lot of the time actually share lot of pieces that we the we write or report so we think that our members can do a huge amount and and possibly the host of ways.
I'm so now.
I don't think there's a forced March here the idea is much more that you had to celebrate being part of a community people who really interested in what's happening and if you're
You are carefully and rewarding Lee consuming the stuff that we bruising on delighted to teaching moments, but I've ever been any mistakes along the way have you dropped since we've seen you since starting tortoise plenty someone really small internal so not that interesting that some of them meaningful if you can one was I think I massively underestimated podcasting not realise that people will listening to it, but I thought the market would be hugely oversupplied so we should get up and running and then moving the podcasting the more I look at it actually more I realise they're not that many people doing what we're trying to do.
I was trying to move into it now and we can do it in a way that distinctive and different from what you might get elsewhere in the news, so that's been one of those hang on let's get together on that the other one which was the important.
And it's like a lot of the mistakes you make in life.
They come within normal good intentions we started off with this idea that everything would be run as a round table that we participate in the decisions about everything and actually went very quickly happened with this realisation that you would just bouncing actually very put you have to get ourselves are organised.
I remember over recruiting someone that was Dave Taylor and what's it like working for a media organisation that people haven't heard of I said they was working for Media organisation that doesn't have an organisation and it was really hoping that was something we need to fix and get organised and so from the beginning of the year to this getting much more about two dozen really really matters and I think it's one of those Classic start up things that you go into it with her with a can of idealism and excitement and then.
It's a Wednesday in October do you think that we can get something done here? Did you want to be a journalist? Did you always want to be an editor? I didn't know what I wanted to say I was the age of 4 I realised I would like that at all in fact.
I had written bits and pieces you know for a student newspaper published in the newspaper but more because if you could do that and then I got a job interview at a newspaper and I went in this job and I rang a walking In The Newsroom that first day and thinking I love this.
I love the people the spirit the way people talk to each other just I should have known about myself.
I should have known that I am a deeply curious person.
Who loves finding stuff out is really interested who thinks that everyone's got a story and I knew that about myself.
I just never put two and two together.
I thought that might be away for a living I remember thinking that for you thinking I can't believe I get to go round and ask people questions and for some reason they answer then off to do the time for a while.
I was delusional and I think that's amazing.
It's the thrill of being nosey and curious but also the full of them telling people that he was telling them what has happened.
You think there's there's a cutie creative element to it the way in which you tell a story for me.
It's writing when I arrive at the BBC it was learning witnessing people who are Real Masters of the art of putting together a TV pack into radio package but at the heart I do hear something really simple which is you go along you've got a notebook and a pencil you are some questions you.
They say how do you walk back you think I want to watch that all adds up to the chance to put yourself in someone else's shoes.
It's just an amazing thing to get what comes next after you first start in The Newsroom so I was so I started out.
I was responsible for nibs news in briefs on a European page and I thought that I was like a start of the ft and it was an amazing group of journalists with a really serious about what was happening in the world and it was a chance to learn a lot not jealous and also things like that and learnt and economics, but I've been around people who are economically that was great night the Big Break I got was going to China I think you have to have someone in mind to go and be there Shanghai correspondent open the new Bureau in Shanghai
For whatever reason that person pulled out and I think they can look down the list and there was only one other person left until that was me and so I've got to go off and cover China in the late 90s what an amazing and I just amazing and it was again one of those things where the story literally would walk into the room.
I mean I rented her a little flat off the road in the concession Shanghai number one day my landlady.
You didn't have a great respect of personal privacy walked into the flat and then into my bedroom and it was like 4 in the morning and she said I just wanted to let you know I'm going to be away for the next few days.
Thank you for letting me know.
I'm leaving the country as a great time and she said yeah, I'm going to be a broad as good as the penny dropped.
I said have you been away before you left Channel 4?
No, I have never left the country that no one in my family has ever left the country and she can explain it for the first time Chinese citizens will be able to get the Thailand and you suddenly thought oh my goodness the world is about to change and that storage and walked into my bedroom.
I remember she left and I call the foreign desk at it.
It's just story about the coming wave of Chinese tourists and visitors and change the way you think about the world.
What came after the tone of your own so I did try and I came back I cover the media this beat lucky you yeah, it was amazing actually it was amazing for one thing which was Jia politics and economics to this you know the thing that you do for which is so smart.
Is it as much as media is and should be this.
Interplay of principles and technology, how does the public square work? What would digital platforms do it at the heart of it? They always these personalities and it's always been the case that for whatever reason the good and bad probably mostly bad you get these personalities attracted to to the media and so that was just a whole different experience in journalism.
How do you report the summer redstones on the Rupert Murdoch's and you know back in the day the bosses of time Orlando to mention the one from UK to do that for a few years and then I want to see and how was that was that was post 9/11.
So it was a country and a world to an extent that was traumatized arrived.
Just as The Bush administration was preparing the case to go to war in Iraq and actually it was a very testing time in that you felt as though.
Unless you were required to report the White House was saying I need a course what it was saying was an argument but delivered by the White House as fat and I think there's a lot of discussion still to be had about the way in which coverage of the white house in the run-up to the Iraq war gave room two people to assess the arguments that were made by The Bush White House the way they were presented in the role of the media and that was a really went from being a few like a business page story in the media to a generally life and death one and in terms of the of the Iraq war and the abilities of the executive in politics, but also the the media that converts the covers the presidency or any government.
Are against us type thing with the media that that you know that it's now with brexit and trump, but you know if the media is reporting someone who agreed with and that was fine, but if not it wasn't you were wrong.
Is that you were against whatever the government was I do.
I think I think the Old hands in the White House press corps would say that there is a long tradition of Republican presidents leaning into the media particularly the political process and so that's not such a new thing that there was an element of it with with two, but there was an element of it that the stretches back.
You know pretty much for the last 50 years and actually I think if you go back for all the criticism W Bush there was a courtesy in the White House in its relations with everyone really it had a very particular political point of view but it was.
As personal and aggressive as anything we see now.
How long are you at DC40 I was there until 2089 move back to London and sort of the times in 2006.
How does that work in terms of did you have a career master plan or did you just say what time in DC and then that you posted by the term well.
There are some people have a master plan.
I think they they they designed it and written it after it happened.
I think it's really unlikely that that that happens in real life and particularly at the end of the day after the end of the week ahead of the times I ran into the editor of The Times at speech about China and he said what are you doing now in that rather you fall off of weird and you're useless kind of way in which always get your attention and it's coming.
Good idea, and that was how the conversation talk about going to be business editor for years before I know I was just over a year so I arrived there 2006 and was buying the Wall Street Journal ryzen 2600 7.
They were buying the Wall Street Journal and Robert Thompson who was the editor went to go and become the head of channel so they can see the times and that's how that have reminded me of the X 2700 people might have got that job as well as editor of the times for the best tickets at the Opera and so on an amazing is an amazing.
Did the same thing I really love about it, is that and I'm still hugely more about the Times is is amazing group of people so you suddenly in this group and tea is intellectual muscle is that too but it's also got this range, so I remember my first news conference at the Times thinking night is really exactly like the FTSE doing around the first item was about unemployment figures and they were talking about what was happening in the Labour market.
I was thinking exactly that's something I like Story there's a couple of went away on holiday for a week and it left a window open and a family of squirrels came in and ate their house and suddenly whole room came alive with what you mean and that was pictures and we going to do a Recreation of what the sitting room look like before the squirrels hated and what are the toilet after?
Yesterday so spirit of Life here in this paper.
Can you find the squirrels? Could you wanted pictures no because it was a wonderful thing and and there's something about it.
Really open me to a journalism that is trying to be in touch with all parts of your life and so you can have my tablets and tell me about cricket on Monday and catamaran.
You know defining a new feminism the next day and both of them being hilarious and thinking I can't believe how lucky I am we've had a few for editors on the podcast before I know we've asked them.
You know there is this kind of conspiracy theory that they become the editor of The mode of paper that you know you've flown to the holiday volcano and the hard word and introduce the rest of the Illuminati
UK companies with look I I was at the times for 7 years and 5 years that was anything with paper really extraordinary political in the UK but also obviously around the media because the phone hacking story blew up and it was a very it was a very very important time for the media in the UK to take a long look at itself.
It was also very painful time for people who work closely together who were dating each other's behaviour and judgement and not at the end of it.
I left the X as I like to say you know if you fall out with the proprietor.
It's not the leaving of the leaves and the choice that we had to make was so how to report that story I still think we reported the store.
As we would any other you know Square indirectly but it was it was a period that was really difficult and frankly yeah and and you know that you can see her I really love the people I work with the time.
I believed in the journalism that we were doing and I would really sorry to go but I also know that that's the nature of those jobs in you you you do the job and if the problem was to get another ready.
That's what that's what they do live by the sword die and yeah, although it's it's it's actually about what you think the job is a hand and so I think it is a really important things brought as a clear all about the editor that she or he might want to put in place and I felt as though I was the editor my job was really a responsibility to the read so.
That being so the two grand about it and it's hard not to do this even at this distance because it's you know whatever it is now 7 years ago.
It's still the case that you know I think the job was to try and Report out that story and come to a clear View about what was the problem of how should best be best be resolved and we do that and I have to say to the huge credit of The Newsroom of the times when there was a massive amount of criticism as you say the Murdoch media and this perception of the way with Rupert Murdoch operate actually what I saw was The Newsroom that was enormously professional about saying is the story let's cover it as their we've got reported out investigated.
I'm trying to give a clear analytical commentary of what happened and why they are still my favourite newspaper and disproportionately large amount of people from the times on this blog.
I read every day and I mean.
Absolutely if you left the X to go and sign on at Streatham Jobcentre you then went on to run BBC News which are quite a big name is actually was one of those things where you are when you leave a job like that the times you do think I can know what am I going to do and it's painful because of the relationship that you're leaving behind the daily working ones but also the sense of Mission about what you're about and it just so happened that blew up exactly the time that the PC was you I was just come out of Jimmy Savile on the team was changing the Tolkien I got the chance to go work for Tony Hall director-general and there was a brilliant things.
I've never worked in television radio and you certainly think I might gonna snow anymore.
I'm going to get to work for the BBC in the BBC hasn't even just saying.
But then just think that you realise the time we get to learn I'll TV and radio works and I'm sure you'll feel the to Neston things where you get a chance to learn something like a proper proper newsletter tricks and someone to stop his absurd.
I remember writing my first news conference on my first morning and music began at 9 and I am struggle with punctuality with friends and I tell you I'm losing and I showed up at 9:06 for the 9 meeting and the whole room was there and the they they looked at me as though I had done something on speakable which would be late for a meeting and if I came out I was that one.
I was a bit late someone just like you said you'll notice the 6:00 news goes out it goes out at 6, not 6:06 and you learn things about culture and one of them was about respect.
In that place and it makes a difference to wear with a hole news operation works in fact the whole broadcasting operation works, but there was also something that I got there that I didn't see coming at all which is working for an organisation that has a public service commission if you if you worked in the ft.
All the time you understand that you've got a job which is of course to be interesting a course to be informative and ideally to break news that make people sit up and say this can't go on but the BBC has all that and then something if you like you're trying to enable people to have the information.
They need to to make good choices in life it say it.
It's probably funded in order that it should be a public good and at the very heart of that is a really simple regarding the simple idea which is universality.
Get to everyone and that makes me think of what you going to do about social media what you going to do about radio or actually it's sort of Mr point.
Do you need to think about how you're going to true stories and tell stories that really will speak to everyone and gave everyone and that was completely open to me.
It must have been to straight there because Tony hired you because you bring you thinking and you energy to it and no broadcast experience so you never show whether if you can ask a question whether that was a very silly question to ask her whether you're incredibly know when you responsible for any organisation that but you know you don't know because we create yeah.
That's a really thoughtful question already wise but the fact was that there was no question at all and there is no question that all in the BBC that it doesn't have the craft skills it doesn't understand.
Great television and radio it wasn't that was the question was being put the BBC at the time the question was like what what do you want to do in Italy what do you want that that group of people to do when Mr Clean and so I think there are times in organisations where what you really need a people with the expertise in in in program making in design and that particular juncture BBC history on top of the list.
Lol it's only top of the list in terms of the people that that he needed will it change it as you you'll find out a moment when people say stop focusing on how to get back to all cool storytelling skills so changes over time before then come back.
So obviously turn around the Opera Mark Thompson ranch for is this part of evil plan so that you are going to be doing now is your time to come clean but I love the fact you coming back this as though there is some some great old chat.
Somewhere in the sky where everything's locked out.
I generally think that the older I get the less planning to make sense personally and the more it makes sense organizationally so strangely one of the reasons get back to tortoise that it really struck me that was word.
There's room for a different kind of news organisations.
I could see how organisations like the BBC planned, but I didn't feel as the newsrooms was well organised so I think there's something that personally that was just on the way.
I think this has been very very enjoyable conversation.
Thank you for your time.
Thank you so much in association with big things Media
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