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Newsgathering: the inside story

On June 8 2010, 15 cultural attachés joined Visiting Arts and the European Commission Representation in the UK at a visit to the ITN news studios.Presentations were made by Robin Elias, managing editor, ITV News and Ben Monro-Davies, senior programme editor, Channel 4 News. Both explained how they decide what stories make their evening news programmes as well as the feel of their programme – important but engaging against seeking to be award winning in their coverage.

A total of 30 cultural attachés were present for the afternoon session, which was kindly hosted by the Finnish Institute in London. The focus here was on how to get media coverage for the attachés’ cultural output. Linda Christmas, Senior Adviser to the Guardian Foundation and for 15 years the director of the post graduate degree course in print journalism at City University, introduced the afternoon and chaired the afternoon, and began by highlighting the importance of targeting your story to the right contacts. Madeleine Holt, a BBC reporter for 20 years, spoke next and emphasised the importance of recognising a story, and also recognising whether it is visual or not and therefore the best media for it. Maria Marques, an associate at Brunswick Arts, then gave a very practical session on writing press releases, emphasising the need for a clear structure and approach. Vicky Taylor, the Commissioning Editor New Media and Current Affairs at Channel 4, then spoke about the opportunities provided by new media. Ismene Brown, a founder of theartsdesk.com , was the final speaker and outlined the fresh thinking and inclusive approach behind this quality arts criticism website.

Image : Cultural attachés and representatives from cultural institutes at ITN Studios; © Elizabeth Stewart