By Ryan Cumberworth
Channel 4’s North of England correspondent has spoken of the importance of the move to Leeds in order to give a more regional perspective on news and current affairs.
Speaking as part of a Channel 4 News panel at Leeds Trinity University’s Journalism and Media Week, Clare Fallon said having the local perspective would be all-important.
“What you see through their eyes will be very different from someone who’s been parachuted in,” she said. “Just getting to better reflect people in the place where I live and that I love.”
Clare told the audience of aspiring journalists that in the wake of the terrorist attack on the Manchester Arena, she was at the scene even before the first fire engines arrived.
She spoke about the difficulty of covering stories like that one and said remaining detached as a journalist isn’t always the answer.
“We are humans, and if you tell a story like you care, you’re going to tell a better story,” she said.
The impact on journalists of terrorist attacks and other stories such as Grenfell was also picked up by Stuart McTeer, planning editor at Channel 4 News.
He said that previously, post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, was something that tended to affect war reporters covering stories in places like Afghanistan.
“But now we have to watch people’s mental health here as well,” he said.
McTeer also reinforced the importance of the move to Leeds.
“It offers us massive advantages, offering different voices,” he said, adding that Channel 4 News was aiming to have one-third of its 120-strong staff based outside London.
“Concentrating everyone in London isn’t a particularly good way to operate… You’re narrowing down your list of voices you can speak to.”
Clare Fallon and Stuart McTeer were joined on the panel by Rob Windscheffel, northern producer at Channel 4 News.
The panellists stressed that being personally invested in the news was essential and anyone wanting to get into the industry needed to watch the output on a regular basis to understand how Channel 4 operates and what it’s looking for.
Clare Fallon had this advice for the would-be journalists in the audience: “It’s gruelling and it’s hard work. But we get to see things other people don’t see and talk to people others don’t get to talk to.
“That’s a massive privilege – but make sure you really want to do it.”
Additional video material by Richard Liddle – interview with Stuart McTeer