The interior of the building is elegant with a posh reception, huge editorial office with glass walls and then the Education centre, where Patrick Barkham, journalist and feature writer, comes to talk to us (students of Journalism for Second Language Speakers at City Lit).
“A lot of Journalism is being in the right place at the right time”. One of his first assertions and I couldn’t agree more. Barkhamspecialises in Natural History and has written books on this topic; the last one is due to be published this April.
Patrick has worked for The Guardian for ten years but previously worked for The Times too. He reported from the Iraq War, isn’t that a dream for a journalist? I ask him how the experience was and he tells us he was on a British Army ship for three weeks. There he was trained in how to detect and protect himself from “massive” weapons.
Although, he says he is no longer willing to risk his life to do his job he says he had a good story to write while on that ship. “A British soldier was shot by the American Army so when he came to the ship I interviewed him and he was talking about the soldier who shot him as an American Cowboy” (we all laugh). Barkham wrote his feature but before sending it to the newspaper had to be approved by the ship’s chief. Unfortunately, he didn’t like the expression “American Cowboy” and the journalist had to delete it.
I am enjoying every single minute of this interview as this is Journalism. It is actually sad acknowledging that journalists have filters;stories/news/features have filters. However, the daily “fight” for “free expression” makes journalism encouraging.
“I would like to think I am writing for my readers rather than for my boss”, he concludes. And that is the main rule for a journalist, it is just the way most of us see our profession. Journalism affects the way we see the world so it is a responsibility and shouldn’t be taken for granted.