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Editor

Editor


My name’s David Ross and I
think I’ve got probably one of the best jobs
in BBC journalism. My main role is as Editor of a documentary programme
called File on 4 and Radio 4, which is an investigative
current affairs documentary. I also look after
other documentaries and investigative programmes
on radio, mostly Radio 4. As editor of File on 4, I
manage a small team of producers and freelance reporters and
we make 30 programmes a year, trying to get underneath the
skin of some of the big issues that are in the news and provide
new angles and original insights to inform listeners about
the issues and events that are impacting
on their lives. As editor, I manage the team. I also select what stories we’re
going to do and then keep an eye on the final production to
make sure that it’s in accord with BBC guidelines
and it sounds as good as it can do on the air. It’s a huge consequence to
the 100 families involved in this litigation
in the first group. You certainly need to be
an experienced journalist to be an editor of a
programme like File on 4. I’ve got more than 30
years under my belt now as a journalist, most of
that time with the BBC. You need to have an eye for what
makes a story, what’s around, what people are likely
to be interested in. And of course, you need
a good a grasp of the law and what you can and cannot say and the BBC editorial
guidelines. Hello. Have you had a good day? I started off on a local
newspaper, which was terrific because you were doing local
courts, local councils, meeting important
people in the community. And you learned how to
extract the new bits, the story out of conversations
that you would have and write that up in a way
that was accessible. After my experience in
newspapers, I then moved into broadcasting with
the BBC in Belfast. This was during the
height of the troubles. So you had to be aware of the
impact that anything you wrote and broadcast might have
on the wider community. That was great training too. I’ve also worked as
an in-front-of-camera and in-front-of-mic reporter. I did four years with Irish
Television and Radio, RTE, as one of their reporters
in the north of Ireland. After my time with RTE, I came
back to the BBC in Belfast as one of the founder producers
of a new radio programme that they were launching
there called Talk Back. I started as one of the founder
producers, took over as editor after a couple of years,
and worked as editor of Talk Back for
about four years. And I kept wanting to
know more about the issues that we were covering, and documentaries seemed
an appealing way forward. So I learned about a
vacancy at File on 4. I applied for that, got the
job, and came to Manchester, as I thought, for two years to get some good,
valuable experience. That was almost 20 years ago. I worked as a producer on
File on 4 for four years and then the editorship came up. I applied and got that job. It’s the dream job. At 20 past one, my mother woke up with my dad making
a noise and raising up. It was as if it was
his last breath. My mum tried CPR to no avail. He was already gone,
massive heart attack. A nice dramatic one. Yeah. Yeah. The key thing that will
change for people moving up from being producers
to editors is the level of responsibility
they then have. They’re responsible
for the money and for the staffing
decisions and they’ve got to take what might be
unpopular decisions with the rest of the team. When I talk to people who are
hoping to move into journalism, the first thing I say to them
is, “Get as much experience as you can under your belt.” If that means going to help
out at the local radio station, the local newspaper, you can’t
get enough of that experience. Then you’ve got to be
prepared to persevere. There’s a huge competition
out there for jobs in the BBC. You’ve got to just keep
banging away and try to get that first foot in the door. Once you’re in and you are
keen on a career in journalism, you need to start
thinking, then, about what direction
you want to go in. Are you someone who’s going
to prefer the short deadlines of daily news and get
your buzz that way? Or, are you one of the curious
individuals who wants to get to behind the headlines, dig,
turn up stuff for documentaries? In which case, you maybe need to
start thinking about programmes like File on 4 and others. Talk to members of the team, get
some experience of what we do. And who knows, one day you
could be editor of File on 4.

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