ITV News' Matt Brindley on the thrill of the chase

ITV News' Matt Brindley on the thrill of the chase

Wednesday, 5th June 2024
A group of seven policemen aim their weapons
The hunt for Raoul Moat in 2010 (credit: Daily Mail/Shutterstock)
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Working in TV news has given Matt Brindley a front-row seat at some extraordinary events. Steve Clarke reports

“Don’t worry too much about having a plan.” This was the advice given by Matt Brindley, Managing Editor of ITV News, to anyone considering working in news media.

For more than 20 years, he has forged a career in TV news as a programme editor, news editor and field producer, much of the time at ITN. He edited ITV’s Invitation to a Royal Wedding in 2018, and the previous year was editor of the ITV London team that won an RTS award for its Grenfell fire coverage.

As a field producer, he has reported on the Arab Spring, Sandy Hook, the hunt for Raoul Moat and the Oscars, among many other stories.

As a news-obsessed teenager, he was determined to get a job in newspapers and hoped that shifts on the Sunday Times would lead to a job as a print journalist.

“Coming out of university, I went for lots of newspaper jobs but didn’t get any of them and almost didn’t apply for a traineeship at ITN,” he recalled during an RTS Technology event at which he was interviewed by Humza Chaudhry, Head of Strategic Partnerships at ITN.

“Often, you find that the best things happen by accident,” Brindley said. He was accepted as an ITN trainee and has rarely looked back.

The ITV News executive paid tribute to Bernard Cole, a mentor at ITV Central News in Birmingham. “He taught me so much about what makes a good news story. Bernard had worked at the Sunday Mercury, where he was News Editor.

“He was very direct and candid with feedback in a way that perhaps isn’t popular today. For 18 months every day I sat next to him on the news desk and learnt an enormous amount.”

Another early influence was Richard Frediani, then an editor at ITV Evening News, who taught Brindley the importance of connecting to ITV audiences outside London and producing a show with “identity and soul”.

Deborah Turness, ex-ITN CEO and now CEO of BBC News, was another inspirational leader namechecked.

Newsrooms have changed beyond recognition since Brindley began his career – and usually for the better. “They’re much more representative of the audience than they used to be,” he said. They are also more democratic places, nepotism is no longer rife and there is much more formal training available, including leadership training.

Asked to identify some of his favourite stories that he has covered over the years, Brindley mentioned the hunt for Raoul Moat, a Newcastle nightclub bouncer and former prisoner who, in 2010, went on the run after committing murder and shooting a police officer.

“That was a week of adrenalin-fuelled coverage,” he said. “I hadn’t been at ITV News that long. It was so intense. All the days were spent newsgathering; and at night we filmed the people who were searching for him. Throughout the week some amazing stuff happened. On one infamous night we’d just finished News at Ten and he walked down the street in full view of all of us, carrying a sawn-off shotgun.

“He literally walked past us, and no one knew what to do. He’d been threatening to kill journalists. We half-heartedly chased him down the street, but he vanished. He’d been hiding in a storm drain. It was mad.” After being cornered by police Moat died by suicide, shooting himself in the head.

“Covering that as my first big story had an enormous impact on me. Looking back, working as a field producer for ITV News was the high point of my career. I had four years working with amazing correspondents.

“I’m more of a generalist than a specialist,” he elaborated. “Most things interest me – home news, foreign news, politics, human interest stories and crime stories.

“To be honest, showbiz is a bit of a gap unless it’s West End musicals, which I’m all right on.”

‘In conversation with Matt Brindley’ was an RTS Technology Centre Event held on 30 April, produced by Kim ­Rowell, Managing Editor of News Production at ITN.

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