Monday, February 29, 2016

Would YOU help a child actor being bullied in a newspaper set-up?

AT THE risk of coming over all Glenda Slagg - Undercover investigations using actors: Dontcha just love ‘em?  Undercover investigations using actors: That’s surely not right.
Enter stage left Britain’s newest daily newspaper The New Day which has a spread in its launch issue headlined ‘Would YOU help a child being bullied?’
The premise is quite straightforward. Four children acted out a bullying scene to see if ‘Good Samaritans might be a dying breed’ while a reporter and photographer lay in wait to see who intervened and who walked on by.
Among the women who did wade in one was left ‘very shaken by the confrontation’ and another admitted she was ‘scared’.
It makes for a good read with decent ‘real’ pictures too. But is it really something that journalism should be practising in these troubled times when the eyes of the world are on our activities?
Don’t get me wrong, I love a good set-up. Would the shiny unlocked bike get stolen? Would the ‘lost’ wallet be handed in? Been there, done that with both student journalists and reporters who didn’t want to go out on rainy days.
But putting people in a threatening situation with potentially explosive consequences might get a few post-Leveson tongues wagging.
Next week, we’re told in a trailer, we seem on safer ground. How did strangers react when an old lady struggled up the stairs with a heavy suitcase? (my question mark, by the way). We shall see…

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Late Night Final: Wake me up when we get there...

I HEARD about my new job as editor-in-chief of Late Night Final when I was on top of Halidon Hill overlooking Berwick-upon-Tweed.
A fitting venue indeed, as it saw one of the bloodiest battles in history between The English (winners) and Scots (losers) in 1333.
BATTLEGROUND: Now peaceful view from Halidon Hill
Now all I have to do is keep warring factions from Britain's Big Four regional publishers happy - plus their embattled newsrooms troops - as we head towards the launch of this brave new world, as outlined so well by Steve Dyson in his HTFP column.
Of course, I've history here. More than 20 years ago I ran the prescient Thomson Online Features Service (TOFS),  sending material to the far-flung parts of the then great Thomson Regional Newspapers empire. With a doughty team of journalists - some experienced, some less so, but everyone unfailingly enthusiastic - we sourced top quality content for showbiz, food & drink, fashion and even gardening pages. 
Biggest problem wasn't getting the stuff - everyone from Kylie to the Queen was happy to be featured - it was convincing the editors that this was a help, not some threat to their independence.
We had some great take-up from the Press & Journal and Scotsman right through to the Belfast Telegraph and Western Mail, with a readership in the millions. A great testament to everyone involved at all ends of the operation.
Now we're getting ready to do it all again, with common features supplied to all part of the UK that will give the nationals a run for their money.
It's gonna be a helluva ride; wake me up when we get there...