Journalism and the Monarchy- Reflection

The session about reporting on the royal family was another eye-opening and very interesting power point presentation from our newlywed lecturer and was our last teaching session of this semester.

We learnt that the nations relationship with the monarchy has totally changed since the silver jubilee in 1977 and is indeed absolutely unrecognisable from the days of the Queen’s coronation.

However it was mooted that the media seems to want to take the British people back, Canute fashion, to our more royalist past.

We were made aware that at least a quarter of Brit’s believe we would be better off without the royal family, more than 50% want an end to its state funding and 2/3rd want the royal household opened up to more scrutiny.

Apparently media now reports on members of various royal families in much the same way as it reports on celebrities.

It was asked whether journalist’s celebrate or just report on royal events like the jubilee, a royal wedding or a royal birth which threw up some interesting discussion about what would be expected of us in that situation.

It was somewhat expected when we were told that there are strict rules and regulations when it comes to reporting about the royal family and that they have PR Officials who oversee the families media activities and that someone like BBC Royal Correspondent Nicholas Witchell spends time nurturing professional relationships with press officers.

A royal rota allows a small group of journalists to follow the public engagements of Queen Elizabeth 2nd, the Prince of Wales, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry ‘Close Up’ reporting for TV, Radio, Print and Online on a pool basis.

Almost all TV footage of the Queen is filmed on behalf of the main UK broadcasters by a palace appointed camera person. You can request interviews but they don’t usually do them they normally do documentaries.

There are two press offices, the one at Buckingham Palace represents the Queen, Duke of Edinburgh, Duke of York, the Earl and Countess of Wessex and the Princess Royal.

The Clarence House/St. James’ Palace press office represents the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry.

Finally we learnt that if we’re ever researching a royal story we should start with the websites of the royal press offices where most questions will probably be answered.


Courts and Legal System- Reflection

The Cats lecture about reporting on court cases of all kinds in courts such as Crown, Magistrates and Coroner’s Court began with talking about showing emotion like Graham Satchell showed on BBC Breakfast when reporting from Paris yesterday.

We discussed this and mentioned other emotional reports like Martin Lewis in the bulletin when Diana Princess of Wales had died and Murray Walker getting emotional as Damon Hill won his Formula 1 World Championship title as other examples of when it is fair for a journalist to convey emotion rather than appearing to be like an emotionless robot.

It was also interesting to discuss the seemingly inevitable effects of cutbacks the BBC are going to suffer in the coming months/years like the loss of many red button services.

Learning about the courts and the rich vein of stories we can garner from them was something of an eye-opener even after we had all passed our law journalism exam with Telegraph court reporter Nicky Harley last year.

We knew that it was important that, as journalist’s, it’s essential we understand the way the courts work, right down to making sure the door closes quietly when proceedings are underway.

We learnt that summary offences are dealt with by the magistrates court and there might be three lay magistrates who have no legal qualifications, they are all criminal cases but the maximum custodial sentence they can hand down is 12 months for each offence, up to a maximum of 65 weeks.

The main differences between magistrates and crown court are that a crown court can hand out the maximum sentence allowed for a particular offence but a jury must decide that the charge has been proved beyond all reasonable doubt.

A coroner’s court investigates death in particular circumstances and doesn’t determine innocence or guilt but the verdict by the coroner can lead to a trial and criminal prosecution.

The coroner is either a doctor or a lawyer who is responsible for investigating deaths in particular circumstances such as a sudden, violent or unexplained death.

Contempt laws still apply in the coroner’s court and a coroner can give what is called a narrative verdict which is a summing up of the circumstances surrounding a verdict.

Talking about the Coroner’s Court also brought back very upsetting memories for me as I talked about my experience of being at a Coroner’s Court when we had the inquest into my sister Heidi who passed away in December 2006, it was all I could do to hold back the tears especially this close to the anniversary of when we lost her.

We can also tweet from a court although it must be kept to just fact and a journalist must NEVER be drawn into conversation about something they have tweeted from a court.

Reflection- Electoral System and Emergency Services/Journalism Relationship

We discussed the electoral system including elections always taking place on a Thursday (we don’t know why) and the six different types of elections we have in this country and the First Past the Post system and the attempt to change it to proportional representation and the Alternative Vote.

We focused mainly on General and Local Elections and the British voting system which can see a party who have more votes still not having overall control in Parliament.

We then moved onto the relationship between journalist’s and the emergency services particularly the Police and how the relationship is vital and mutually beneficial as a source of stories and help with certain cases like missing persons and looking for witnesses.

The official secrets act was also mentioned to highlight when the relationship between journalist’s and the police can be really rather frought and very awkward like in the case when the Police tried to use the act to get journalist’s at The Guardian to reveal their sources when they ran the story about the News of the World Phone Hacking scandal.

We also learnt about how to gather stories using resources such as police/fire press office online news feed, local neighbourhood policing team websites and social media like Facebook and Twitter.

We also now know to make regular calls to police and fire stations at the start and end of shifts and that some police still have voice bank systems which provide information on a loop and are updated several times a day.

I also know it’s vitally important to talk, and develop relationships, with operational officers and make contacts which will lead to being able to gather extra information.

I will also become familiar with terminology and rank structure and also the main strategy and tactics of each service and I realise that contacts go beyond the press office.

Government Minister- Michael Fallon MP

Secretary of State for Defence.

Responsibilities: The secretary of state for defence has overall responsibility for the business of the department providing strategic direction on policy, operations, acquisitions and personnel matters including: Operational strategy including as a member of the National Security Council, defence planning (Including SDSR 15) programme and resource allocation (Including the spending round) international relations including lead for North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) defence exports policy, including as Chair of the cross-Government Exports Working Group, nuclear programme and communications.

Educated at Epsom College and University of St. Andrew’s and was MP for Darlington from 1983 to 1992. Elected MP of Sevenoaks, Kent in 1997.

Minister for Department of Education and Science 1990 to 1992. Has recently held positions on Treasury Select Committee and was Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party. Appointed Minister for Business and Enterprise in September 2012 and Minister of State for Energy in March 2013 became Minister for Portsmouth in 2014 and was appointed Defence Secretary on 15 July 2014.


Government Minister- Michael Gove MP

Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice.

Responsibilities, The Secretary of State has oversight of all Ministry of Justice business and is responsible for making improvements to the criminal justice and prison system so that it better serves the public. Other responsibilities include, Resourcing of his Department, Functions of the Lord Chancellor, Overall Strategy and delivery of particular priority programme’s, EU and International business, Corporate Services, public appointments and judicial policy including pay, pensions and diversity.

He receives a salary as Lord Chancellor and is unpaid as Secretary of State for Justice.

Educated at Robert Gordon’s College, Aberdeen and Lady Margaret Hall Oxford University.

Elected Conservative MP for Surrey Heath in 2005, appointed Secretary of state for Education in May 2010 served as Government Chief Whip and Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury July 2014 to May 2015.

Appointed Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice on 10 May 2015.

Became a journalist after leaving university, worked as a reporter for the press and journal in Aberdeen, a researcher and reporter at Scottish television and a reporter at BBC television. He was later Assistant Editor of The Times.

Michael Gove

Government Minister- Philip Hammond MP

Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs.

Responsibilities cover the work of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office with particular focus on Policy Strategy, Honours, Whitehall Liaison and Cyber-Security.

Born in Epping, Essex in 1955, attended school at Brentwood before studying Politics, Philosophy and Economics at University College, Oxford.

Elected Conservative MP for Runnymede and Weybridge in 1997, appointed Foreign Secretary 15 July 2014.

Previously Secretary of State for Transport from May 2010 when appointed as Lord Privy Counsellor and was appointed Secretary of State for Defence in 2011.

Before politics he had a career in various small and medium sized businesses in manufacturing, consultancy, property and construction and oil and gas.


Government Minister- Theresa May MP

Secretary of State for the Home Department.

Responsibilities cover Security and Terrorism, Legislative Programme and Expenditure Issues.

Education in both State and Private Sectors attending both Grammar and Comprehensive Schools. Studied geography at St Hugh’s College, Oxford University.

Conservative Councillor in London Borough of Merton from 1986 to 1994. Chair of Education 1988 to 1990 and Deputy Group Leader and Housing Spokesperson 1992 to 1994.

Elected MP for Maidenhead in May 1997. Held several shadow positions including Education and Employment, Transport, Local Government and the Regions, Family, Culture, media and Sport, leader of the House of Commons and she was Under Secretary of State for Women and Equalities from 2010 to 2012.

She was appointed Home Secretary in May 2010.