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Dorothy Byrne’s TV Diary

Dorothy Byrne at the 2018 Television Journalism Awards (Credit: RTS/Richard Kendal)

TV current affairs and documentaries are obsessed with the new. That means we can ignore problems which continue over decades. My month begins with watching Channel 5’s Raped: My Story for a panel I’m on.

It’s a really daring programme precisely because there is nothing new in it; it is a devastating document of the way rape ruins lives and survivors are denied justice. And that’s a story we need to tell again and again.

How to become a news camera operator

(Image courtesy of Dai Baker)

Channel 4 News cameraman Dai Baker has travelled around the world, including a ten-year stint at the broadcaster’s Washington bureau.  

He’s now based in Wales where, alongside a reporter and producer, he films and edits news packages from Wales and the West Country - although he’s always on standby to go further afield, covering the inauguration of Donald Trump in the USA and the political protests in Barcelona (see video below). 

Top news programmes failing to put women on air

However, research by Professor Lis Howell of City, University of London, shows that average ratios of male to female experts have improved over the past two years to 2.2:1.

Yet in some quarters, the drive to increase the number of expert women on specific television news programmes has stalled – and in some cases, numbers have actually worsened.

The findings are the result of a study conducted by the university, and the full results have been announced today at City’s Women on Air conference.

Sanjoy Majumder: Our Friend in Bangladesh

Sanjoy Majumder (Credit: BBC)

Landing a major assignment or, as modest journalists would prefer to phrase it, getting your teeth into a powerful story, can sometimes be a mix of good fortune and the result of a sequence of random, unrelated events.

Towards the end of August 2017, my team and I were preparing to head out to Bangladesh to cover floods in the north of the country. It was not particularly unusual – sadly, Bangladesh experiences them every year. The situation was severe but certainly not the worst in its history.

Jeremy Thompson: The buccaneer

If television news had a golden age, it was surely the three decades from around 1980. Driven by videotape newsgathering, growth in satellite capacity and buoyant budgets, news bulletins often drew audiences of 15 million. They were the main way that most people got their news. This was Jeremy Thompson’s time, and mine, too.

Thompson came up the old-fashioned way: straight from school into local newspapers and radio before BBC TV, ITN and Sky News. His father, an insurance man, was horrified at his son’s career choice, warning that only jazz musicians were a worse actuarial risk.

Fran Unsworth's balancing act for turbulent times

Fran Unsworth (Credit: BBC)

Fran Unsworth will need no reminding that the BBC calls itself “the biggest provider of news in the UK” and “the world’s largest broadcast news organisation” and that it recently announced the “biggest expansion since the 1940s” in international operations.

With more than 35 years’ experience of working for the corporation, she also knows that BBC News regularly quotes independent evidence that it is, “by far, the most trusted and impartial news provider in the UK”.

BBC's Nick Robinson calls for a new style of journalism in Steve Hewlett Lecture

Nick Robinson delivering the inaugural Steve Hewlett Memorial Lecture (Credit: RTS/Paul Hampartsoumian)

The evidence is already clear that millennials largely ignore the news coverage of the traditional UK TV networks, said the Radio 4 Today presenter.

Unless broadcasters raise their game, Robinson said, there was a risk that quality news organisations like the BBC, ITN and Sky News would lose future generations of listeners and viewers.

Robinson, a former BBC and ITN political editor, said that erosion of trust in public institutions and the rise of alternative sources of news meant that traditional broadcasters needed to try harder.

Inside Sky's Election Campaign: Getting it right on the night with Paul Bromley

Bromley is Sky News’ Editor for On-Screen Information, the man responsible for ensuring the accuracy of all the information that viewers see on screen.

His job on election night, he says, is to ensure that “anyone turning on Sky News at any point in the [election show] will find out instantly the state of play. I have always worked on the basis that, if we have information in the building and we can share it, why wouldn’t you do so?”

“The information -the words and the numbers – is what I am concentrating on,” he explains.