Learning from the past

On my journalism course they gave us a bunch of books on a list to get . . I eagerly purchased got a few before I realised that most were way, way out of date. In a quiet moment the other day I picked up ‘the British Press: A Manifesto’ for the first ever time. It was published in 1978 and is a selection of essays by academics on the state of the UK press at the time — slanted hevaily towards the print industry. Read more

Badger signs off…

Eric Coulson is a milblogger writing from theatre inside Iraq. He’s consistently served up pithy insights from the front line and thanks to his regular appearances on the BBC World Service’s World Have Your Say and The World Today (and BBC domestic radio — about 18 months ago I got home, turned on Radio 4 and heard Eric being interviewed on The World Tonight who had obviously snarlfed his contact details from the WS system . . any intial anger was tempered by the good interview I was hearing)  has illuminated many a listener’s horizon with the military POV.

Sadly Eric has decided to end his milblog.

Ask any journalist about how difficult it is to get serving military to speak to the media and you’ll get a shrug and a fuhggeddaboutit type look. With me it was always a nice assignment. Sure, Badger 6 was always restricted in what he could say but as any BBC editor will tell you, just hearing a soldier’s voice out of Iraq gives an important dimension to this most multi-dimensional of stories.

Thanks for the blog Eric and thanks for the airtime.

Bunyan v Hansen

Congratulations are in order for the BBC World Service. Newshour and World Have Your Say up for 2008 Sony awards!

UPDATE 12th May 2008: World Have Your Say wins Gold.

World Have Your Say is the running for some memorable shows, two of which I’m proud to say I worked on.

The first, Issa’s house, has long been my favourite show in terms of atmos. Even though I spent the two hours sitting in a studio in London sweating profusely in case the line went down causing ‘World Have Your Say’ to become ‘Paul Coletti Tries to Say (while the boss shouts in his ear)’, you really got the feel of being inside the house of a bloke in the middle of Uganda (Issa). I remember having to tell someone how to get to Issa’s house and being a naive sort of bloke who has never been to Uganda I asked Issa what his number was . . . silly me, in that part of rural Africa house numbers are about as common as sleet, in fact the address basically consisted of a lengthy list of instructions such as “drive up the road till you get to a silver telegraph pole, turn right and go past about 3 fields till you see a post box”. I particularly remember the talk of roast goat and the sound of the generator and the crackling of a fire (in a wheelbarrow I think), in fact looking back to the live blog of that show brings back some nice memories.

Bunyan v. Hansen.

john_bunyan.jpg hansen.JPG

The second show will hopefully go down in World Service history. It was when BBC journalist Alan Johnston was released from a dingy cell owned by some nutters in Gaza. You’ve just spent 114 days in captivity and the smell of freedom is almost intoxicating, you land in relatively safer Syria so do you a) relax, get a haircut and have a nice meal or b) immediately go on an international radio talk show to share the experience? Fortunately for us AJ chose the latter and the world got to hear how he’d actually heard all the messages of support WHYS had been airing. I must say it was a relief too; coming up with ideas for contributors to record messages was testing indeed . . . a suggestion particularly hard to beat was Leonardo’s idea of getting some Scottish footballers to say few words. As we now know, these messages raised a smile from AJ while he was coping with his pyschopathic guard. Terry Waite got a postcard of John Bunyan. Alan Johnston got Alan Hansen.

Listen with Quentin

Pulp Fiction 14 years on with Mr. Tarantino in the cinema taking questions afterwards . . . fascinating.

What’s the frequency Mary?

It seems that Dan isn’t the only one still feeling the pain of those memos . More than four years on and the second-biggest name in the whole Rathergate business still finds it hard to let go. Read more