On The Eye our Editor Phil Parry has described how he was helped to break into the South Wales Echo 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.
Certain approaches to journalism are intriguing.
Stacey Dooley is featured in the What’s On guide of Cardiff Life lounging in a chair wearing leather trousers and talking about ‘career’ highlights, before her appearance this month in ‘Conversations with Stacey Dooley’ at Cardiff’s St David’s Hall.
She was asked difficult questions in the magazine such as: “What is your fondest memory of Strictly Come Dancing?”.
The publicity put out by St David’s Hall declared: “Join her (Ms Dooley) for what promises to be a thought-provoking, inspiring and informative evening. With a chance to try your own hand at journalism and ask Stacey the questions, this is an opportunity not to be missed“.
The investigative journalism we pursue on The Eye is also apparently something Ms Dooley is an expert on.
The St David’s Hall publicity before her appearance proudly proclaims:“… Stacey talks about her remarkable career so far, where she’s headed next, and how news and investigative journalism are evolving in such a highly polarised global political climate and a constantly shifting media landscape”.
But she didn’t include one ‘career highlight’ being when she was called “lazy” and “insensitive” by a disadvantaged family that she had staged staying with in one of her films ‘Stacey Dooley Sleeps Over’.
Another ‘highlight’ which she was also silent about was how the BBC had to apologise and edit out her incorrect commentary in a Panorama programme which professed to portray the truth about Islamic State’s (IS) treatment of women.
A further one might have been how her programmes have been accused of being “poverty porn”.
Ms Dooley it seems has advertised the fact that she believes not being a trained journalist is a positive advantage.
But real journalism is not ‘lazy’, even so, others like Ms Dooley have other views.
Paul Rowland, another so-called journalist in a senior position, gave interesting advice to a person anxious to break into the trade.
Mr Rowland is the Editor of WalesOnline (who threatened to sue me over a satirical piece), and wrote on his website to a reader: “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”.
Ms Dooley meanwhile does not seem to engage in ‘clickbait’ journalism, but you have to wonder how qualified she, like Mr Rowland, is in offering guidance.
One of her subjects in ‘Stacey Dooley Sleeps Over’, Adele Allen, said: “In the whole 72 hours she was here I did three early morning dog walks at 6am with the baby and she didn’t manage to make it out to one. She couldn’t get up with me – so there’s the lazy one”. She and her partner Matt claimed that Ms Dooley didn’t join in enough with their family life in Brighton on the show.
Matt said: “She’s lovely but there’s not a lot of depth to her. There’s a fantastic moment (in the programme) where she is with me in the allotment and I say: ‘Come on then Stacey, what herb is this?’ and I tell her it begins with the letter O and she says: ‘Olive oil’”.
BBC officials too have apparently found it hard dealing with the aftermath of Ms Dooley’s engagement in ‘journalism’.
Apart from her programmes being described as “poverty porn”, in one UK newspaper they were called “patronising and condescending to the people they’re trying to help”.
After presenting ‘Blood, Sweat and T-shirts’ (which ‘investigated’ the working conditions of Indian sweatshops), Ms Dooley received a call asking her to appear on BBC Newsnight to discuss her experience and told a magazine tellingly: “I didn’t even know what Newsnight was”.
A few weeks before ‘Stacey Dooley Sleeps Over’ The BBC had to apologise and edit out her inaccurate commentary in a Panorama programme which claimed to portray the truth about Islamic State’s (IS) treatment of women.
The programme was called ‘Stacey Meets the IS Brides’ and Ms Dooley’s voice over had said: “We saw women raising their index finger in an IS salute”.
But this was completely wrong and several viewers who had seen the trailer about it, criticised Ms Dooley’s comment on Twitter, explaining that Muslims often use this gesture while praying.
One said a complaint had been made to the broadcast regulator OFCOM.
BBC journalist Anisa Subedar tweeted: “Raising the finger is NOT an IS salute. Does #StaceyDooley know us Muslims raise it everytime we pray (that’s 5 times a day) to remind us of the oneness of God?”
Writer Steve Rose said: “Skip to 1:35 to see Stacey Dooley perpetuate this ignorant falsehood, referring to the raised finger of Tawhid as an ‘IS salute’”.
The television ‘Loose Women’ star Janet Street Porter also condemned the programme, and the BBC News Press Team said the criticism was “disappointing”.
After a deluge of complaints the BBC announced that the episode was to be re-edited before its broadcast.
The News at Ten bulletin, which showed the trailer, was also removed from iPlayer.
The BBC finally admitted: “We wrongly described a gesture made by women filmed in a Kurdish controlled detention camp in Northern Syria as an ‘IS salute’. While IS have attempted to adopt this for their own propaganda purposes, for accuracy we should have been clear that many people of Muslim faith use this gesture to signify the oneness of Allah. We apologise for this error and have removed this description from the footage”.
The BBC’s error committed by Ms Dooley, was featured in most of the UK newspapers.
Perhaps Cardiff’s St David’s Hall should instead stage an evening of Ms Dooley’s mistakes, or even Mr Rowland’s ‘career highlights’, after he informed one reader keen to become a journalist to write about street food in Wales…
Tomorrow – the Welsh rugby legend and TV pundit who annoyed viewers during last Saturday’s game.
Phil’s memories of his astonishing lengthy award-winning career in another kind of journalism as he was gripped by the incurable disabling condition Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia (HSP), have been released in a major new book ‘A GOOD STORY’. Order the book now!