Full retirement for TV stalwart

Gordon Burns will retire from TV and radio tomorrow.

Gordon Burns will retire from TV and radio tomorrow.

He has been the face of The Krypton Factor, North West Tonight and the voice of Sunday morning radio. Now, after a career spanning four decades, Gordon Burns is bowing out of TV and radio for good.

The 71 year old had already “semi-retired” in 2011, standing down from presenting duties on BBC One’s North West Tonight after fifteen years in the anchors chair. In that same year, the presenter with strong Northern Irish roots, made a move into local radio, hosting a weekly topical programme on BBC Radio Manchester and BBC Radio Lancashire. A mix of news reviews, easy listening music and an excellent calibre of guests has made the programme popular with Sunday morning listeners for two years.

On Twitter, Gordon announced that tomorrow’s programme would be his last. I asked him whether it would be the last we see of him on screen and on the radio in the North West. His reply was a simple “probably” adding that he “has so many other things to do“, explaining that he believed “time was running out“.

Burns’ career began in the 1960’s when he started working for the Belfast Telegraph before moving into TV news to front UTV’s nightly news programme. He was one of the journalists centred with reporting on the Northern Ireland Troubles. He later made a switch to Manchester, fronting regional programme Granada Reports before landing the job as host of the The Krypton Factor, a role that made him a household name across the country. Burns returned to his roots as a journalist and broadcaster when he took up the role as anchor of North West Tonight in 1997. It was a move that proved popular with viewers, with the BBC programme winning numerous awards and Gordon himself winning Broadcaster of the Year at the Royal Television Society Awards.

Above all, Gordon has always made the relationship between him and the viewer a personal one. His warmth, charisma and professionalism created a personality and fan base that many journalists and broadcasters can only dream of.

Listeners can hear the last ever Gordon Burns show on BBC Radio Manchester and BBC Radio Lancashire from 9am on Sunday 14th July and on the BBC iPlayer shortly afterwards.

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Reporter sacked for using flood victim to save himself

NarayanPargaienA TV news reporter was sensationally fired last night after footage emerged showing him using a flood disaster victim to shield himself from the waters below. The presenter of India’s News Express, Narayan Pargaien, was filmed sitting on the shoulders of flood disaster victim whilst reporting to a camera.

The newsman was presenting from Northern India’s Uttarakhand province where floods and landslides are believed to have killed more than 1,000 people. Thousands more remain stranded and unaccounted for. Pargaien was accused of using the local man to keep himself dry from the torrent of water below. The anchor, with twenty years experience, denied the allegations, instead blaming his cameraman.

He accused the unnamed filmer trying to “sabotage” his career by using a wide angle shot rather than filming from the chest upwards so that viewers would not see the man underneath. It is believed the footage did not make it to air on the news bulletin, but Narayan Pargaien has accused the cameraman of uploading the video to YouTube to humiliate and make him “the villain”.

How the presenter wanted to appear on screen.

How the presenter wanted to appear on screen.

Mr Pargaien then continued to make the situation worse, saying that the man in the video wanted to give something back in return for the coverage. The anchor accounted that the local resident asked him and the cameraman to report on the disaster and how it had affected his home. He continued by suggesting “we helped him with food and money and he was grateful and wanted to show me some respect” before boasting that nobody of his “level” had ever visited the man’s home.

The reporter was summoned to the head offices of the news organisation where he was asked to explain himself. He was subsequently sacked.

It’s not the first time a news reporter has made an embarrassing gaffe. Earlier this year, KFYR News Anchor A.J Clemente made the headlines after his first ever words in his new presenting role consisted of swearing. He never returned. In the UK, the BBC’s infamous interview of Guy Goma caught the worlds eye after producers confused a man who was in the building for a job interview for a technology expert. The result was a humiliating ten minutes for BBC News who interviewed the wrong guest.

PROFILE: David Dimbleby

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In the world of news and current affairs, past and present, there has always been one man who presides over national events – jubilees, funerals, weddings, general elections and so on. That man is David Dimbleby.

Born in 1938, Dimbleby was born into a family of journalists and broadcasters. His father, Richard, was one of the most recognisable figures in the broadcasting industry. Today, David, and brother, Jonathan, remain at the centre of national events.

David joined the BBC as a news reporter in Bristol during the 1960’s. Some of the programmes and films that he was a part of became the heart of intense debate between the BBC and the political parties, in particular the Labour Party, during a documentary which is claimed to have ridiculed the opposition. He later became the presenter of Panorama – one of the BBC’s longest running programmes, using the best investigative journalism to uncover truth and investigations into many a topic, including governments, economies, war crisis’ and famine on a global scale. David’s father had previously presented the programme.

Since 1979, David Dimbleby has been the face of one the most exciting nights in broadcasting – Election Night. The long running, overnight coverage, often broadcasting well into the following day has been presented by Dimbleby successfully over the past seven General Elections. His knowledge, passion and interest certainly comes across in his stark interviews with political leaders and journalists bringing the results. Dimbleby has lived through many previous elections and governments and uses his own experiences of leaders and parties gone by to provide a very personal yet professional approach in the huge 12+ hour broadcast.

David Dimbleby stands over the BBC's Election Night studio.

David Dimbleby stands over the BBC’s Election Night studio.

As well as the famous Election Night coverage, David Dimbleby is also known as a national broadcaster, presenting and commentating on national events. In the past these have included The Trooping the Colour, State Opening of Parliament, Funerals of Princess Diana and The Queen Mother and anchoring the Golden Jubilee celebrations in 2002. He will return in providing coverage of the funeral of Baroness Thatcher on Wednesday 17th April 2013. His knowledge of royalty, governments and the changes society has undergone makes him the ideal choice for covering the events which bring viewers to a collective halt and broadcasting to the millions of viewers in the UK and accross the globe.

Today, he is best known for his role as the anchor, presenter and chairman of the BBC’s flagship debate programme, Question Time. He has been in this role since 1994 and 19 years on, his command is still apparent on the panel and feared by many politicians. Dimbleby’s nature as a political broadcaster and as a man of outstanding knowledge allows him to question the politicians, often using evidence to contradict what a member of the panel has said. David describes himself as the “chairman” and often reminds the panel that he is in charge. He presents himself as supportive to the audience who ask the question through his further interrogation. One thing which is admirable in this role is the balance that Dimbleby provides. His attitude of respecting the speaker in turn for respect of him is what makes the show flow so well. “Dimblebot”, as he is known to many fans on Twitter, allows the speaker to have their say and prevent other panel members from interrupting or breaking the ‘house rules’. It is Dimbleby’s comradeship which has made Question Time one of the most watched and recognisable political programmes on television.

Bouncing off his extraordinary relationship with British politics, he hosted the BBC’s first ever live Election TV Debate in 2010 where the three main party leaders stood shoulder to shoulder in persuading the public why they should vote for them. It was an exciting month on the election campaign, and as chief anchor, Dimbleby once again proved why he is one of the most recognisable and respectable faces in British Broadcasting.

David Dimbleby has been at the centre of historic events for over fifty years. His intellect, knowledge and passion for journalism and broadcasting is what comes across most in his respectable and professional presentation. In recent years, there has been a shunt of Dimbleby, in particular The Diamond Jubilee celebrations in 2012. David, however, will remain at the heart of future political events, general elections and hopefully the national events that follow in the future.

PROFILE: Sir Trevor McDonald

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He is quite possibly the most recognisable face in British television news. The word ‘retirement’ is not one to be used when it comes to Sir Trevor McDonald. There are many people who inspire me when it comes to journalism and a career in the media. Sir Trevor is at the top of that list.

McDonald made history by becoming the first black newsreader in the UK, presenting with Independent Television News –ITN. His career, though, began in Trinidad during the 1960’s before producing programmes for BBC Radio. It wasn’t until the early 1970’s that Trevor became a general news reporter for ITN, later becoming a sports correspondent and further developing as an expert in international politics.

When it came to presenting news programmes, Sir Trevor worked for a short time with Channel 4 News, before working on the Early Evening News and ultimately presenting the flagship News at Ten and weekday late news between the late 1980’s and 2005. Ask anybody about their first thoughts when they think of News at Ten and Sir Trevor McDonald will be a part of that.
In 2005, Sir Trevor retired for the first time, however continued to host Tonight with Trevor McDonald, a weekly documentary series investigating an individual news and current affairs topic every week. However, in 2008, the return of the News to ten o’clock also saw the then 68 year old return to prime time news, before his second retirement within the year.

Following his retirement from news altogether, Sir Trevor ventured into documentary making with productions including The Secret Caribbean and The Mighty Mississippi. His courteous attitude and genuine passion for other people’s cultures and views provided a real insight into parts of the world through different eyes. The most recent project Trevor has worked on was a ratings success for ITV.

Inside Death Row was broadcast in January 2013 and followed Sir Trevor McDonald investigating the so called “death row” in the United States – a high detention security prison with the most violent inmates on the waiting list for the death penalty. In interviews beforehand, McDonald, now 73, stated how he disagreed with the death penalty, yet the documentary was an eye opening and insightful look at a system unfamiliar in Britain. The way in which McDonald conducted himself in his interviews with prison inmates and staff did, to some extent, show how he felt toward the system, however the genuine interest and passion for investigative journalism also counter balanced with allowing the inmates and staff to have their say. It was the genuine character of Sir Trevor McDonald which provided the success for ITV, a reliable and enthusiastic journalist, providing an unbiased and open minded approach to other world systems.

As a professional and as a man, Sir Trevor McDonald, was and still remains a heartbeat of British news. His famous tone of voice, powerful and instantly recognisable, has sometimes been the butt of jokes. He has interviewed figures including heads of states, including presidents, prime ministers and ordinary people at the centre of extraordinary news. His passionate, caring and professional approach comes across in a way that shows Sir Trevor to be worthy of his knighthood for services to broadcasting. A genuine thirst for news and journalism is what Sir Trevor stands for and his career and character is one to aspire to.

‘Breaking News’ – The snow is back.

ITV News presenters Mary Nightingale and Alastair Stewart bring us the latest on the snow.

ITV News presenters Mary Nightingale and Alastair Stewart bring us the latest on the snow.

British news has once again been dominated by the old trouble maker herself, the weather. Again. But is it really necessary for this same old story about travel disruption, power cuts and how we are coping in the “freezing conditions” to have the worthy of nearly half the air time of an evening news bulletin? I think not.

There is a clear argument for the reports on the weather, keeping viewers informed with any disruption to their travels and whether or not their kid’s school is closed. But surely this kind of news can be kept for a short update within a local news bulletin. News of how many schools have been closed in Wales and Northern Ireland is most irrelevant to a viewer in Newcastle. There is an art of recycling when it comes to weather news reports. The standard procedure applies as follows: Top headline about snow; travel disruption because of the snow; how people have been “battling the elements”; a warning from police not to travel; and of course, the question everyone wants to know – is more on the way? I guarantee if you watch a news bulletin on a ‘snow day’ this procedure or near abouts will be the one that dominates.

When it comes to reporting on the snowy conditions and “treacherous driving conditions”, there is an element of shock. That shock, however, is that the expense of other motorists. For instance, a common report on the travel disruption begins with scenes of motorways around the country which appear dangerous and un-driveable. But then follows the repeated phrase, “a number of accidents…” which then leads into footage of cars off the road, often in ditches, recognising how very dangerous the roads are. Sometimes there will be dramatic footage from a camera phone showing a car, sometimes a bus, sliding in icy surfaces. Very shocking. But then again, why would any driver be so careless to pass through icy conditions and put their own lives at risk? The ordinary viewer, who hasn’t ventured out because of the cold, voices their opinions within the family – “stupid”, “idiot”, “why didn’t they stay at home” – So whilst the reports do highlight the somewhat incompetence of drivers who ignore previous warnings, they highlight the danger on the roads, underlying the message of the danger in the snow and NOT TO TRAVEL..(unless absolutely 100% vital, of course).

Another regular feature which appears on ‘snow day’ news programmes is the art of crossing from the cosy and warm newsroom to the arctic like conditions of the Lake District, Glasgow, Belfast, Buxton, Cornwall and Cardiff (not always used), in the traditional ‘sweep’ around the country to get the wider picture. Mainly so a viewer in the south can comment on how much snow they have had compared to the North. Then follows the ‘Live OB’ – the Outside Broadcast. “Lets cross to Cumbria and get the latest from there…” proclaims the newsreader and then follows one of the single most depressing shots for anyone who wants to be a part of news – one of the country’s brilliant TV journalists, used to battling court room dramas and breaking news, stands freezing, covered in snow and red-faced, in a farmer’s field. There has to be some admiration for these reporters who brave the conditions to bring us the details of what is happening. Although, quite a lot of the time, the closures, conditions and power cuts that are being experienced in Scotland are quite the same to those in Cardiff. It is an endless ‘arctic circle’.

At one time, it used to be a novelty to have a news bulletin dedicated to the ‘chaos’ that the snow has brought. Nowadays, with climate change and differences to our weather patterns, snow is bedding down more regular. Where I live, between Liverpool and Manchester, there have been around four different snowfalls in the past six months! Despite that the same reports and information surface – Don’t travel unless necessary; check with your tour operator; stay indoors; check on your neighbours. Compare that to the United States where snow drifts are vast and we look like a country that can’t cope with the white stuff. The news is supposed to be an operation that provides the latest new news. Although each snowfall is new the news that surrounds it is far from that.

So don’t forget to take care in the snow and of course, in the words of great journalists and presenters, “don’t travel if it’s not essential.”