The tables were turned on Kirsty Wark yesterday as she attended the University’s groundbreaking series of Coventry Conversations as a guest speaker, where she put herself up for questioning, as well as running a journalism and TV master class for those aspiring media types.
It is obvious from listening to Kirsty for just five minutes that research is the key to a career in journalism. Without it, you are nowhere. Even when preparing for a loosely structured interview, Wark could not stress enough the importance of doing your homework on the subject, stating that: “Once you’ve done your homework, only then can you throw it away and respond using what you already know”. She also revealed another golden nugget of information, a sacred rule of the investigative journalist- to never unveil your questions to an interviewee.
Wark is buoyant about the state of journalism today. She believes no matter who the reporter or what the content, “as long as the journalism is rigorous and investigative it’s valid”, adding that if it helps to introduce a different demographic of viewer to news and current affairs then programs such as Ross Kemp in Afghanistan have just as much place in the sphere as Newsnight. Writes Sean Carson…
When asked did she think her style in the Alex Salmond interview (dubbed “rude and dismissive”) was justified, Wark responded frankly: “It was overly aggressive and I later apologised”, she said. Adding when pressed that she did not consider the interview to be at all successful.
Regardless of people’s opinions on Wark’s style and in particular, the Salmond interview, she has shown she is a true professional with plenty of talent to turn her hand to myriad subjects as well as having the courage to admit when she was wrong – people need only look at her interviews with Margaret Thatcher and Pete Doherty to see her range of talent as a TV journalist and presenter.
Wark has a real affinity with the BBC. Having joined in 1976 as a graduate researcher, moving through the ranks and progressing on to a life in front of the camera she commented: “The BBC is an amazing place to be” and not knowing what she would be doing tomorrow keeps her inspired and motivated to do her job.
What is next for Kirsty Wark? With a book and a documentary in the pipeline, as well as Newsnight and the successful Glasgow-based Review Show ratings as strong as ever, it appears that Wark will be a fixture on our screens for some time to come.
Pictures courtesy of Andrew Noakes.