First posted 22nd February, 2010
We received a very light-hearted talk from Duncan Wood this afternoon, but under the humour was a very helpful and clear-eyed view on practical journalism, its pitfalls and its perks! From the outset, Duncan stressed to us that he still wishes to be known as a Journalist, although he is more famous for presenting the regional news.
Duncan's origins are in stark contrast to the students he was lecturing, as he happily disclosed his lack of O-Levels (remember them?) and A-Levels, and the grudging praise and ready criticisms on his NUJ assessments. Of much interest to students was his statement that although he achieved an impressive 100wpm Shorthand qualification, he has not used it since - disheartening news for the faculty who have so recently re-introduced it!
On a more serious side, he advised us that a foundation of his beliefs is a stubborn determination to get to the bottom of any story, and this is also how he distances himself from other presenters who simply read from autocue, as some students were curious to know.
Continuing with this theme of deep investigation, and under inquiry from his audience, Duncan acknowledged that there is often a knife-edge balance to be held between personal morals and professional ethics, and the cold practicality of finding and reporting the story. Whilst we as students have covered the theoretical application of dry, Journalistic codes of conduct, we have not been trained in the gut instincts of conducting reporting, and of course - how could we?
Finally, he was quizzed on the new challenges facing regional broadcasting. Like many of his contemporaries, Duncan exhibitied a wary enthusiasm for the pilot scheme to be run in the North-East, and stressed to us that the success or failure of this field test will probably influence the entire deployment of independant local media - truly relevant, high impact news for all present.