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‘I MUSTN’T write in this story, that people have made it just because they have gone to London!’

After 23 years with the BBC, and 39 years in journalism (when he was trained to use clear and simple language, avoiding jargon), here our Editor, Welshman Phil Parry looks at how a prevalent view is still that ‘success’ can only be celebrated if it has been achieved OUTSIDE Wales, following last night’s awards at the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) Cymru ceremony, being presented for a SECOND year running, by star network television host Alex Jones.

Earlier he described how he was assisted in breaking into the South Wales Echo (SWE) office car when he was a cub reporter, recalled his early career as a journalist, the importance of experience in the job, and making clear that the‘calls’ to emergency services as well as court cases are central to any media operation.

He has also explored how poorly paid most journalism is when trainee reporters had to live in squalid flats, the vital role of expenses, and about one of his most important stories on the now-scrapped 53 year-old BBC Wales TV Current Affairs series, Week In Week Out (WIWO), which won an award even after it was axed, long after his career really took off

Phil has explained too how crucial it is actually to speak to people, the virtue of speed as well as accuracy, why knowledge of ‘history’ is vital, how certain material was removed from TV Current Affairs programmes when secret cameras had to be used, and some of those he has interviewed.

He has disclosed as well why investigative journalism is needed now more than ever although others have different opinions, how the current coronavirus (Covid-19) lockdown is playing havoc with media schedules, and the importance of the hugely lower average age of some political leaders compared with when he started reporting.

 

“I see this description of a ‘success’ because the people concerned are in London, ALL the time”

I have always found it odd.

A pervasive view appears to be that real success can only be celebrated if it has been achieved OUTSIDE Wales (especially in London), so that people across the UK (or better still the world) can see a Welsh person ‘doing well’!

It seems to be something to do with a lack of confidence in Wales.

Devolution has made the situation a little better, but this still exists today, if in a slightly diminished form.

Phil’s newsrooms were dominated by ‘stories’ about Welsh people ‘getting on’ in London

What, though, is wrong with commemorating triumphs WITHIN WALES?!

When I started in journalism in 1983 on the South Wales Echo (SWE), I was for some time the pop columnist, and almost EVERY ‘story’ would include the line: “This band are heading for London…”.

But one member of those bands confided in me years later: “We never got further than Newport Phil!”.

Was news that Alex Jones presented the BAFTA Cymru awards for a SECOND year running, greeted with a deafening silence?!

This is the case in all walks of life, but is particularly so in the media, which is, obviously, my area of special concern.

The list of the ‘successes’ being recognised in this sphere is endless, but has on it the adulation directed at network television presenters Alex Jones, and Huw Edwards.

In the case of Ms Jones, it can be seen in the fact that she was selected once more to present the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) Cymru Awards last night.

Hello everybody!

Proudly publicising the event beforehand, officials declared excitedly online: “Alex Jones returns to host the special ceremony at St David’s Hall on Sunday 9 October. She will be joined by a host of stars to announce the winners on the night. The ceremony will be available to watch live on BAFTA’s YouTube channel.”.

Possibly this was because, Ms Jones is best known for co-hosting the light BBC One Television magazine programme The One Show, but organisers may also be aware that she has presented as well, Tumble (2014), Close Calls: On Camera (from 2015 to 2016) and Shop Well for Less? (from 2016 to 2020, and that she was born in Ammanford.

Her added attraction to officials may be that she was (of course) deemed a ‘success’, as she is Welsh, and has fronted these network television programmes.

Ms Jones is an extensive user of social media, which could, too, have added to her alure.

Taking to Instagram earlier, she wrote: “Things have been a bit tricky for us recently and in all honesty, I haven’t had time to be on here between working and the children but I randomly logged on and saw all your lovely messages gently asking if we were all ok”, adding: “I was touched by your kindness and so I just wanted to check in and say thank you, and that even though life has been a bit challenging, we are ok and still managing to enjoy the beginning of the holidays and there’s still plenty to smile about! (I’ll pop some stuff on my stories)”.

Huw Edwards always appears concerned when he presents coverage of a Royal funeral

Or let’s look at Mr Edwards.

He won the BAFTA Cymru award for best on-screen presenter in 2002, and his BBC 10 O’Clock News team were awarded a BAFTA in 2005 and 2006 for their reporting.

Mr Edwards who was born on August 18 1961 in Bridgend, is a regular subject of ‘stories’ in Welsh media outlets, including WalesOnline (WO), and NationCymru (NC), because he presents from London, the corporation’s flagship news programme.

Huw Edwards looked sombre as he presented coverage of Prince Philip’s funeral, and there have been calls online for him to be knighted for his presentation of programmes about the Queen’s death

For example, in a March item about him, NC declared: Huw Edwards has previously revealed that he would like to be the First Minister of Wales – but just for one day”.

An article concerning Mr Edwards in April said: “BBC Cymru Wales have commissioned three new documentaries to be broadcast later this year, including a one-hour special with Huw Edwards. In May it was: Huw Edwards has said a colleague told him the BBC “doesn’t want people to think there’s a nutter reading the 10 O’Clock news”.

WO is no better.

The website has a strange idea of news values, and Paul Rowland (its former Audience and Content Director), threatened to sue me over an accurate satirical piece on The Eye, about the number of ‘stories’ they had published concerning the opening of a Cardiff bar. In issuing the legal threat, he used the extraordinary words “satire is no defence against libel” when in fact sometimes it can be.

On WO, he also advised a reader anxious to break into journalism that the best way of doing it was to write about street food, saying:  “You might not be interested in ’19 mouth watering street food dishes and where to find them in Wales’, and you might believe it’s not something we should be writing (I wouldn’t agree, but that’s fine). That doesn’t mean it’s clickbait”.

Although the following ‘stories’ do not fall strictly into this area, they were in a similar vein:

On September 20 they published: Huw Edwards breaks silence on Queen coverage praise with sweet message to team”. Four days earlier it was: “Welsh TV presenter Huw Edwards is loved for his professional and calm presenting manner and was recently praised”. Two days before THAT, they ‘reported’: Huw Edwards has been leading coverage of the country mourning the passing of Queen Elizabeth II”.

The website even offered as a story the calls on social media to knight Mr Edwards, because of his coverage of The Queen’s death!

But this ‘star’ is actually ENORMOUSLY controversial, and (as with Ms Jones) the use of social media is often at the centre of things, yet this is NOT reported. The Twitter account @huwbbc was discontinued, with officials saying: “Twitter suspends accounts which violate the Twitter Rules”.

One of his tweets highlighted (ironically):  “The wacky world where Wales was never a nation and Pembrokeshire is the heartland of… Plaid Cymru.  Help!”, with the picture attached underneath showing protesters carrying Welsh flags aloft, and one holding a placard of END LONDON RULE, clearly visible near the centre of the photograph. This image, though, appeared to fly directly in the face of BBC rules about impartiality.

He was ordered to drop another post of himself, in front of a Welsh flag, which he proclaimed (once more ironically) was a “backdrop for @BBCNews at Ten”, but responded afterwards (again with irony):  “Gutted my pro-flag tweet has been cut down in its prime. By order. But it will be back tomorrow – by popular demand. Meanwhile enjoy this magnificent flag – one of my favourites. Hashtag SixNationsRugby Hashtag FRAvWAL”. A series of emojis were included after the comment.

This tweet by Mr Edwards, came after a flurry of pro-Wales activity on his Twitter page before an international rugby match against France, when he stepped in following the performance of the Welsh rugby team being criticised in The Daily Telegraph (DT)“Every Grand Slam ranked – and why Wales would be the ‘worst’ ever winners if they beat France”, ran the newspaper’s headline, to which Mr Edwards replied with heavy irony: “Not like the @Telegraph to be so effortlessly one-sided… Cymru am Byth!”

But his announcements have not been met with wild acclaim by the leader of the Welsh Conservatives in the Welsh Parliament/Senedd Cymru (WP/SC) Andrew RT Davies, who has said on Twitter that The BBC was:  “Employing presenters who openly mock… (Britain)… Ridiculous!”, and linked it to the ‘Gutted’ post.

Twitter didn’t like it

After Mr Edwards’ apparent opposition to a story about rugby in the DT, and another from its former Editor Max Hastings about the Welsh language, NC published a ‘news’ piece saying:  “Huw Edwards slams former Telegraph editor for anti-Welsh language article”. As I have shown, it has ‘reported’ many ‘stories’ about his exploits.

Following the remark about Welsh nationalist party Plaid Cymru (PC), it ran a ‘story’ that:  “Broadcaster Huw Edwards has protested the BBC’s new rules on using social media by unleashing a cascade of Welsh flags”.

‘Why is it seen as a story if someone is known in London?!’

Perhaps there must also be rules about organisations publishing ‘stories’ about Welsh ‘celebrities’, or using them to host ceremonies in Cardiff TWICE, just because they have ‘succeeded’ in London, or should that be Llundain

 

 

The memories of Phil’s remarkable decades long award-winning career in journalism (when he achieved success in presenting network television programmes in London AND Cardiff, as well as Welsh-only broadcasts) as he was gripped by the rare neurological disabling condition, Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia (HSP), have been released in a major book ‘A GOOD STORY’. Order the book now! 

‘Stories’ about people ‘succeeding’ in London are far from what Phil does

Regrettably publication of another book, however, was refused, because it was to have included names.

Tomorrow – why demands from PC that rents should be frozen, have been fiercely opposed, amid warnings they may actually mean FEWER affordable homes are provided in Wales.