Digital still the poor cousin at the RTS TV Journalism Awards

The decision to award Steve Hewlett the Judges’ Award at the Royal Television Society Television Journalism Awards dominated the reporting of this year’s event.

That’s no doubt correct. But it did somewhat overshadow what a terrific night it was for Channel 4 News; the team  won programme of the year, Matt Frei picked up TV journalist of the year and Waad al-Kateab won a number of awards including Young Talent.

Before the event I spoke to Digital Editor, Jon Laurence, the driving force behind Channel 4 News’s incredible success with social video – especially on Facebook.

Despite recent changes to make the RTS a more level playing field and stop ITN’s domination of the categories through its multiple newsrooms, the awards still don’t recognise the contribution of digital to the success of news journalism.

I find that surprising and disappointing – as I said to Jon, although he was self-deprecating enough to laugh it off.

Still, with digital threatening TV’s audiences as never before, it’s surely sensible to celebrate TV newsrooms’ digital success. And perhaps phase out the ancient news technology award.

One final thought. While Tom Bradby won for Network Presenter of the Year, even as the reviews of the Nightly Show suggested the move of the news was a mistake, and the BBC won for Home Coverage with its series on prisons, this wasn’t a great year for the big bulletins.

The RTS has tried to increase the pool of jurors, including myself, but it would be a shame if the awards lost their sense of the industry awarding its peers because the independent jurors ended up voting for the shows they watch or appear on.

In Nations and Regions News, the category for which I was a juror, the broadcaster representatives still had a vote – unlike some of the more hard fought categories, such as Programme of the Year. I wonder if that is a better solution than only independents voting. Perhaps some more tweaks to the rules might be advisable.

 

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Top posts of 2014

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One year into this blog, and that’s about 358 days longer than any previous blog I’ve attempted, here’s the top five performing posts of the last year.

1. On John Oliver quitting The Daily Show

2. Channel 4 News live in Tottenham

3. Who’s making great online video?

4. Why Al Jazeera English needs to think again about digital news

5. Behind the scenes at Al Jazeera

The John Oliver post was the runaway winner, thanks to retweets by Andy Zaltzman and loyal Buglers around the world.

The online video comparison did well on Linkedin. I also tried reposting a few things on Linkedin but there didn’t seem to be much traction. More inspirational business leadership blogging required for cut through there.

With Google implementing HTTPS searches, search terms are no longer a hugely interesting resource using WordPress’s native analytics. But the most searched term of the last year was unquestionably Richard Zackheim, the new Deputy Editor of ITV News. Relatively little has been written about him so my short blog welcoming his appointment performs absurdly well on Google. Still, I’ll take the glory where I can get it…

 

Ed Miliband’s media training

I read during the summer that Labour had finally got around to hiring someone to advise Ed Miliband on broadcasting.

Former BBC producer Matt Laza got the job, which the party had apparently had some difficulty filling.

You can see the results on yesterday’s Channel 4 News. Shirt-sleeves rolled up, voice pitched lower, speaking more slowly, falling over fewer words. Until Jon Snow starts to press him, at which point there’s a return to normal.

But who on earth agreed to the interview taking place next to a hospital bed! Was he in intensive care following a beating from Ed Balls for forgetting the deficit? Back-drops matter on TV and the subliminal message this delivered wasn’t positive.

 

Who will replace Adam Boulton as Sky News’s Political Editor?

I admit it. The headline’s a come on. I’ve no inside scoop – although I do have some thoughts on who it should be.

Whoever it is will have big shoes to fill. Boulton has been a big part of the success of Sky News. For 25 years he’s provided the latest analysis on the political story of the day. Unflappably for the most part, although some have rather uncharitably focused on his on-screen arguments.

He obviously wanted a change and I’d argue that in reality the post of political editor has been filled by Joey Jones for the last year or so anyway. Adam’s time has been spent on his lunchtime show, Boulton and Co. But, for me, he’s a much more interesting reporter than presenter.

If it was me making the appointment, I’d be looking for a big name, with a lobby background who can provide instant analysis of politics and policy. It would also be good to try and break the mould of white, middle-aged man as political editor. Being political editor of Sky News you have to have an appetite for politics, be a nerd about the policy, understand the context and the history – and still be able to make it understandable to the man in the street.

I’d say the runners and riders are heir apparent Joey Jones, Channel 4 News’s Cathy Newman, Newsnight’s Emily Maitlis, ITV’s Lucy Manning and, as a lobby curveball, The Times’s Roland Watson. That would be my personal interview list. There’s already been some speculation about Tom Bradby or James Lansdale too. Can’t see either of those being tempted from their current berths though.

No doubt Ladbrooke’s will have a book open soon.

And if you want to know why Adam Boulton will be such a hard act to follow, take a look at this video of an old two-way in atrocious weather. There’s not many that would put up with this.

Channel 4 News live in Tottenham

There’s considerable anger among people living in Tottenham in north London tonight following the inquest jury’s verdict of lawful killing in the shooting of Mark Duggan. His death, and the police’s actions following it,  were the spark which ignited the riots in the summer of 2011. It’s clear that Duggan’s family are furious with the verdict, a feeling clearly shared by many in that community.

Channel 4 News presented its show from Tottenham this evening. It was a masterful display by Krishnan Guru-Murthy in how to present a developing story at the key location. It was clearly a difficult and tense situation, with not only members of the family wanting their say, but other members of the public too. I thought Krishnan handled it very well in what were highly charged circumstances. It was gripping television.

Channel 4 News is having a good year. But that show will be top of some lists for the award entries when they roll around.

You can see the show here for the next week.