Before we were shown around the historical national news agency, there was a presentation by ex-editor Jonathan Grun, who is often referred to as “one of journalism’s nice guys”. A jolly and intelligent man, he retired this year after 36 years with the agency and is now emeritus editor. He provided a brief history of the PA, along with some anecdotes from his time working here. When reflecting on his time working here, he said, it felt as though he’d worked for several different companies as the PA had undergone such massive changes throughout the years and has consistently strived to grow and stay relevant throughout the years – especially in an age where breaking news isn’t constricted to the news wire.
Next came an interesting talk on the future of the PA with regards to Google News, Apple News, various other digital news platforms, and the continuing rise of social media for breaking news stories; keeping the Press Association on their toes more so now than ever. They are constantly thinking of inventive ways to stay relevant, from using their Twitter to engage with journalists to creating graphics for journalists to use to tell stories.
Finally – what we’d all been waiting for – the office tour. We were introduced to the new editor, Teilo Colley. He explained how the newsroom worked and how the wire was still the journalists and news publications go-to source. As we were there, the shots of Boris Johnson taking out the small child while playing Rugby in Japan had broken and I was told the images had been bought by some huge publications, including the BBC and Sky News. He also shared with us that is was their political journalist who took the shots, highlighting that years ago, a political journalist would not have been responsible for images and now journalists have to be able to do it all.
He spoke of the “tight-knit” relationship the PA has with the British government and the monarchy, which means they are first with the news stories and photographs before anyone else. I pointed out, it must be difficult to be an “independent” and “unbiased” news agency when they are in the bosom of the hierarchy, to which Tori explained that this did not come into play when writing a story…
All in all, as a PR and a super nosy individual, I had a fun and insightful day. Just being in the hustle and bustle of the office for twenty minutes and watching the journalists working in their own environment gave me a valuable glimpse into how one of the world’s biggest and most important news agencies works.
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