My day covering the spending cuts live from Westminster.

The media descend outside the Houses of Parliament yesterday.

Standing outside the houses of parliament yesterday armed with an Iphone (3GS for all you picky people) and a Zoom audio recorder I can’t pretend I didn’t feel slightly out of place as CNN, numerous BBC outlets and international media gathered waiting to speak to MPs following George Osborne’s announcements in Parliament.

To put this into context, our class of Journalism MA students were asked to cover the spending cuts as if we were a news agency for our news blogs. I suggested that it may be a good idea if one of our group went down to Westminster and see if anyone could take some pictures or record some audio for our blog. I was soon on my way.

Sitting on the tube on the way there, I realised I had little idea what I was going to. Sure, we’d all seen the news reporters on the bit of green outside the Houses of Parliament, but I assumed there were loads of barriers blocking ‘Joe Public’ from wandering around – how am I going to get anywhere near anything of note I wondered.

Finding the area the Media report from proved little problem and pretty soon I was soon interviewing some protestors who had made camp near the media. Terry Hatt was once such protestor I interviewed and you can hear my interview with him below. I couldn’t help but feel that Terry was the sort of bloke that would turn up to protest at the opening or indeed closing of an envelope, yet to be fair, a cursory google search reveals little. In truth I was glad to get some content to send back to the rest of my group.

It was truly an eye opening experience of how big news breaks in the UK. Richard Quest, who is the London anchor for CNN, was having a hard time doing his reporting due to some extremely annoying protestors, (who would later offer me the opportunity to go ‘live off the land with them’) getting extremely close behind him. I felt sorry for Richard as he made clear to the protestors that he had no objections to their right to protest but asked they stay a reasonable distance behind.

A few minutes later I in fact overheard Richard on the phone say that “CNN won’t be happy until I’m hit over the head.” I hope that’s not the case – as Jon Sopel, the BBC News Presenter told us at a talk on Tuesday night – no story is worth getting killed for. Indeed on that note, Jon was hurt in a collision on his scooter yesterday and I hope he has a quick recovery.

The buzz really began when the MPs started to stream out and the reality of what is a highly organised media circus started. A lot of interviews had been arranged in advance as MPs squirted off into different areas to talk to the different media outlets.

Whilst watching the BBC interview former chancellor of the exchequer, Alistair Darling, I was stood next to two members of the BBC 5 Live team who were having a discussion as to who would be getting the final interview of the day with him – “I thought Derbyshire’s lot had him” said the lady – presumably a reference to Victoria Derbyshire and her BBC 5 Live show. The conversation reminded me of a video we’d watched during the course about how within the BBC even the same stations can have intense rivalry between shows, to ensure they all get the best guests and soundbytes – this was seeing exactly that in action.

After the initial clamour died down, it was clear there were some MPs loitering waiting to speak to different media organisations. My problem was, that I can probably recognise more League One Football Managers than MPs. Thankfully, I met a version of Oli (Chris Addison) from the glorious BBC Comedy Drama ‘The thick of it’ – who was an aide for Roger Williams, Lib Dem MP for Brecon & Radnor. He helped me get a couple of minutes interviewing Roger, but tragically my recorder let me down, or to be more precise and accurate, I let it down.

Not to be perturbed I returned to Roger’s aide who was proving to be not only a lovely guy but a helpful ally in working out who was who. Within a few minutes I managed to interview Elfyn Llywd who is the MP for Meirionydd Nant Conwy in Wales and he is the UK Parliamentary leader for Plaid Cymru. He was a particularly good person to find, because there was an argument being made that Wales had suffered more than most. The story I wrote up following my conversation with him can be found here and the audio is below.

Being out the classroom doing ‘real journalism’ on what was a momentous day in British Politics was extremely enjoyable – an undoubted adrenalin rush in feeling like you’re at the heart of the where the British media are.

Now all I need to do is find an app for the Iphone that allows you to take a picture of an MP and be presented with a biography on him so you don’t let Peter Hain stroll right past you…


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: