By HAMISH MACKAY in THE SCOTTISH REVIEW
In a tribute and condolence message following the Queen’s death, Laurie Upshon, a trustee and former chairman of the Journalists’ Charity, relates how she became its patron (then the Newspaper Press Fund) following her Coronation in 1953, and cemented links with royalty stretching back to 1885.
Laurie, a former editorial director for ITV in Central England and proprietor of Upshon Media, explains: ‘In many ways it was the passing of the baton of close royal links over many decades. Queen Victoria became our first patron when the charity was granted its Royal Charter in 1890. But she was certainly a true supporter before that – donating £50 in 1885 – an act of generosity she repeated twice more with donations recorded in 1891 and 1896’.
Further donations came from members of the Royal Family into the next century as successive monarchs took on the role of patron, and Laurie recalls that it was as the Duke of York that the Queen’s father, King George VI, became chairman of the charity’s annual appeal dinner. Laurie tells us that it was in a dinner speech in May 1930 that the then Duke of York so memorably declared: ‘I know what difficulties the reporter has to meet. He is frequently working when the rest of mankind is playing or sleeping; he is out in all weathers trying to obtain stories which everyone seems to be conspiring to keep from him. He [the reporter] has, of course, compensations. He is present at the shaping of great events. Still, the wear and tear of it all piles up a high casualty list, and it is at this point that the NPF steps in’.
The work of the journalist has now changed beyond recognition, reflects Laurie: ‘But the challenges and the toll taken are still very real. The work of the charity is more important than ever. But that speech and that date were of more recent significance to our charity. We were delighted to learn after many months of waiting that the Queen had accepted an invitation to celebrate the charity’s 150th anniversary – an invitation sent much more out of hope than expectation because of the considerable demands on her time.
‘The Queen agreed to attend a special reception in Stationers’ Hall, London, on 7 May, 2014 – 84 years to the day since her father spoke at our fund-raising dinner. As the charity’s chairman in 2014, it was my job to meet the Queen on arrival and introduce her to more than 300 journalists waiting eagerly inside the historic hall.
‘During my career I had attended several royal events and always wondered how to talk to the Queen if you met face to face – and how does she carry out that role with a smile on her face, shaking hands and being polite to hundreds of people day after day, year after year?
‘I found out. She was an absolute professional. It was her life, her duty, her vocation, too. I spent about an hour with her, introducing her to journalists from newspapers, television, radio and online, and of all ages – from those at the peak of their careers to those just taking their first steps. Throughout she was charming with a keen sense of humour.’
Laurie emphasises that the Queen wasn’t just a figurehead patron of the Journalists’ Charity, she was keen to learn the problems facing the charity in modern times. He explains: ‘She wanted to know how journalists worked in a frenetic world of instant news, feeding many masters and outlets in this fragmented multimedia age. She wanted to know about training and, in particular, she was surprised to learn from the National Council for the Training of Journalists’ chief executive, Joanne Butcher, that shorthand was still being taught as an essential skill for journalists. She engaged with the young journalists we had invited. Many there will remember the day for the rest of their lives.
‘Throughout her visit, the Queen was also conscious of the historic links between the charity and the monarchy. She seemed absolutely delighted when we presented her with a copy of that speech her father had made on 7 May – 84 years earlier.
‘I have been involved with the charity for many years now and have always thought that raising money for journalists was very much like passing the hat round for bankers, estate agents, MPs or lawyers. The difference, of course, was that the Queen was our patron – and that always made a terrific difference.’
Laurie concluded: ‘On behalf of all the charity’s trustees, staff and supporters, I would like to express our heartfelt condolences to Her Late Majesty’s family, and to His Majesty King Charles III’.
2. Student journalists are to get resilience training
Journalism students are to get resilience training to prepare them for the ‘harrowing’ business of ‘real-world stories’, industry training body, the National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ), has announced.
Students on all of its accredited courses will receive the training to ‘prepare them for what they may encounter in the newsroom’. The NCTJ has updated its performance standards for accredited courses to ensure students are ‘adequately supported amid concern over a rise in mental health problems among journalists’.
This training initiative follows a webinar with course leaders and tutors in which Lisa Bradley, deputy head of journalism at the University of Sheffield, led a session on resilience training and tutors shared teaching techniques and learning materials.
Lisa explains: ‘I introduced trauma and resilience training three years ago at the University of Sheffield on the back of research and evidence that mental health issues and PTSD symptoms in journalists were on the rise.
‘I also wanted to prepare students for industry after hearing some trainees were reluctant to do more emotionally harrowing stories and interviews through the fear of the impact on their own mental health. I found this very worrying and wanted to ensure we were empowering our students. News is harrowing. It can be brutal and disturbing, but that’s why journalists have the job they do. To inform and educate.
‘My teaching revolves around managing expectations – from death knocks to war reporting, and teaching coping strategies and well-being techniques. It is about preparation and coaching so they feel able to do the job – not be scared of it.’
The webinar also heard from Nancy Fielder, the former editor of Sheffield’s daily newspaper The Star, and now editor-in-chief of National World’s city-based World brands, which has included launches in Glasgow, Bristol, Birmingham, London, Newcastle and Liverpool over the last 18 months.
Nancy points out: ‘Being a journalist is not easy. It’s a lot harder now than it was when I started in terms of what you have to do. There is a massive amount of pressure – particularly for new journalists because they are expected to learn across platforms and do everything in one go. We work really hard to try and protect everybody in the team. We are aware that it takes a lot out of you to do the job.
‘There are also situations where you don’t know what you are sending reporters into, so they have got to be able to cope to some extent. It’s just making sure that the journalists know that the team has always got backing. We are incredibly aware of the issue but we do need students coming out knowing what they are going into and that it’s not easy.’
3. Kaye Adams is all set for Strictly Come Dancing debut
I extend my very best wishes to intrepid Scottish journalist and television presenter, Kaye Adams, as she prepares to take to the dance floor as a contestant in the new series of Strictly Come Dancing, which was due to be launched on BBC1 on Saturday 17 September at 6:10pm.
However, the launch show, where the contestants find out which professional dancer they have been paired with, may well be rescheduled following the death of the Queen, so please check your BBC1 programme schedules. The new series will run weekly on Saturday evenings throughout the rest of the year.
Grangemouth-born Kaye is married with two daughters, Charly (20) and Bonny (15). She will be 60 in December and is one of the UK’s leading and busiest broadcasters, currently hosting the ITV talk show Loose Women and the weekday morning show on BBC Radio Scotland.
She cheerfully confesses she that is ‘absolutely terrified’ and ‘can’t dance at all’ but ‘thrilled’ to be taking part in Strictly. She explained: ‘I wanted to make the last year of my 50s memorable. I am now pushing 60 and therefore placed firmly in the older lady category in Strictly Come Dancing. My age – and the fact that I’ve got two left feet – means I am going into this later-life folly without any thought that I might win’.
She added: ‘I can’t make much more of a fool of myself any more than I am. So I will therefore be able to thoroughly enjoy the experience without feeling any of the pressures to do well that the younger, more glamorous celebrities might come under. I’ve always been the person stood at the edge of the dance floor, and it’s only being older that has given me the confidence to think: What the heck. I’ll give it a go! If I have to leave the show after two weeks, then I’m fine with that – this is about doing something new and really enjoying myself’.
4. Ginny is now deputy editor of Edinburgh Evening News
Ginny Sanderson has been appointed deputy editor of the Edinburgh Evening News (EEN), just weeks after its news editor Rhoda Morrison was promoted to editor.
Rhoda’s promotion followed EEN’s previous editor, Euan McGrory, being appointed as an editor-in-chief within the City World Newspapers division of National World, overseeing the strategic development of its city-based newspapers including EEN, the Yorkshire Evening Post and Sheffield’s daily newspaper The Star.
While admitting she was sad to leave such a ‘legendary’ team at The Scotsman, Portsmouth-born Ginny (29), who grew up in Gibraltar while her father was serving in the Royal Navy, told Scottish Review: ‘I am delighted and honoured to be appointed deputy editor of an excellent local paper in one of the best cities in the world. I can’t wait to get stuck in and aim to champion Edinburgh and give a voice to its communities. It’s a frightening time right now, so we will be launching a cost-of-living campaign to highlight the difficulties people are facing in Edinburgh and the Lothians – and call for those in power to take meaningful action’.
Among her deputy editor responsibilities, Ginny oversees digital output at EEN. A Bachelor of Arts graduate in English literature from the University of Kent, she gained journalistic qualifications at the Brighton Journalist Works training college before joining the Eastbourne Herald in 2016, part of the Johnston Press group which was subsequently taken over by JPIMedia (now National World). Ginny then moved over to The Sussex Newspaper, an online community newspaper project where she was one of the first reporters within the JPIMedia group to be appointed as an engagement journalist. She was promoted in 2020 to an engagement journalism executive role with JPIMedia on The Scotsman and Edinburgh Evening News, latterly fulfilling this role on The Scotsman’s editorial team.
Ginny’s promotion to deputy editor on EEN follows the appointment of Catherine Salmond as editor of The Herald daily newspaper. Catherine had been editor of National World’s Edinburgh-based Scotland on Sunday newspaper.
Meanwhile, news editor Claire Lewis has been appointed editor of Sheffield’s The Star. Claire takes over from Nancy Fielder who has been promoted as an editor-in-chief within National World’s UK-wide City World Newspapers division.
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Caithness-born Hamish Mackay is now in his 57th year as an occasional/sometimes regular contributor to the UK’s exceedingly diverse media market