“Tropical fish in a sea full of sharks”: The BBC Breakfast team attribute their success to kindness and a drive to tell human stories

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By Ella Bicknell

The award-winning team at BBC Breakfast has said that their journalistic success is down to their approachability and kindness. 

Alongside editor of BBC Breakfast, Richard Frediani, presenter Sally Nugent and producer Claire Ryan shared what has helped them uncover stories that have impact to an audience at Leeds Trinity University’s Journalism and Media Week.

BBC Breakfast is the UK’s most popular morning show, with an average daily reach of 5.7 million and more than 10 million people regularly tuning in each week.

The three journalists talked about the competition, rejection and hostility they have experienced throughout their careers.  

Sally Nugent said their friendliness makes them “tropical fish in a sea full of sharks”, helping them and their content stand out. 

Ryan added: “We forget about who we are and who we work for, we just go in as people.”

“We are just ourselves. It is a cut-throat world, but we work hard, we’re nice, we’re honest.”

The team aims to cover a diverse range of stories that cater for the varied audience that watches the programme.

“We really listen to people; we treat them like family”, said the producer who was part of the team to win ‘Scoop of the Year’ at the Royal Society Television Awards.

The award recognised their coverage of Marcus Rashford’s campaign to extend free school meals during school holidays.

BBC Breakfast exposed the footballer’s experience of food poverty growing up, an issue which affects 26% of children in Britain. 

Nugent’s approach to championing diversity is to “always remember the people you are doing it for”.

She added that many high-profile individuals have started to approach them with their stories.  

Former England Rugby player, Mike Tindall approached BBC Breakfast for an interview to discuss his father’s journey with Parkinson’s disease.

BBC Breakfast Editor Richard Frediani said that “good stories take a life of their own”. 

In the last year, the team interviewed Lewis Hamilton calling for more black female representation in motorsport engineering, and former England Rugby Player, Rob Burrow about his journey with Motor Neurone Disease. 

“We’re really proud of the Rob Burrow story,” said Ryan.

 “We have people now arriving at the GP saying – I’ve got what Rob Borrow has”.

Journalism and Media Week is running from November 8 to 11 2021.

See the full timetable on the Leeds Trinity website.

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