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Media Masters

Author: Media Masters

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Extended one-to-one interviews with the key people in the industry. Find out their tips for career success, and peek behind-the-scenes at their workplace. Candid, thoughtful and reflective - a chance to share the insight of those at the very top of their game. Presented by Paul Blanchard.
311 Episodes
Lorraine Heggessey has had some of the biggest jobs in broadcasting - head of Children’s BBC, controller of BBC1 (the first woman to do so) and chief executive of Talkback Thames. Now a media consultant, public speaker and advisor to Channel 4, she left the media world in 2017; and spent two years working for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry, as chief executive of The Royal Foundation. In this in-depth interview, Lorraine recalls the time she memorably fired Blue Peter presenter Richard Bacon for taking cocaine, describes the risks she took when commissioning Strictly Come Dancing in order to “reinvent Saturday nights,” and discusses her work as chair of the Grierson Trust, which helps young people from diverse backgrounds to get into documentary making.
Angelo Carusone is president and CEO of Media Matters for America, a campaigning non-profit described by Bill O’Reilly as “the most dangerous organisation in America.” Founded in 2004 and based in Washington DC, it challenges right-wing bias and monitors social media across the US to correct conservative misinformation. In this in-depth interview, Angelo argues that Donald Trump takes advantage of the “right-wing echo chamber created by Fox News”, challenges critics accusing them of “liberal fascism” after they urged brands to pull their adverts from Facebook as part of the recent BLM boycott, and shares his fear that a “free and fair US election is impossible” given the current political climate.
Nazir Afzal is a writer, legal reform campaigner and former chief crown prosecutor. He spent 25 years at the CPS and is best known for prosecuting landmark cases including the Rochdale grooming gang, Stuart Hall and the death of ‘Baby P’, which he recalls in his recently published memoir ‘The Prosecutor‘. A lay member of the ipso's complaints committee, he also advises governments on preventing violence against vulnerable women, especially those from a BAME background. In this in-depth interview, Nazir reveals how his upbringing in inner-city Birmingham inspired him to pursue a career in law, shares his ideas for reforming the criminal justice system and tackling its institutional racism, and argues that the courts can build public confidence through better engagement with the media.
Martin Frizell is editor of ITV’s This Morning. Beginning his career at Radio Clyde, he worked as a correspondent for Thomson Reuters and GMTV before his ten years in the editors chair famously came to an abrupt end. He then briefly entered the world of PR as an executive director at GolinHarris, before returning to television in 2014 as editor of Loose Women. After a year he took the helm at This Morning, one of the most prestigious editorships in UK television. In this in-depth interview, he shares his exhilarating and often heart-breaking adventures as a young correspondent (including the time he was begged by a Kurdish family to take their baby), argues that This Morning has acted as a ‘comfort blanket for the nation’ during lockdown, and shares his joy at the programme's campaigning successes - including ‘Project 84’ which directly led to the creation of a minister for suicide prevention.
Media Masters - Hugo Rifkind

Media Masters - Hugo Rifkind


Hugo Rifkind is an award-winning journalist and broadcaster. Joining The Times in 2005 he has been a diarist, features writer and TV critic and now writes many of their leaders as well as ‘My Week’ – the very popular diary parody. He is also a regular panellist on BBC Radio 4’s The News Quiz. In this in-depth interview, Hugo shares the difficulty of “being funny in a very un-funny political climate”, discusses the peculiar experience of taking part in The News Quiz without a studio audience, and reveals details of awkward real-life encounters with subjects of his satire.
Jamie Angus is director of the BBC World Service Group. Appointed in 2018, he oversees the World Service, BBC World News and, as well as BBC Monitoring. He joined the Beeb in 1999 and has edited Newsnight, The World at One and The World This Weekend, and as editor of Radio 4’s Today programme, he took the show to a peak audience of more than seven million listeners. In this in-depth interview, he recalls taking over Newsnight in the wake of the Jimmy Savile scandal when the programme’s future was in doubt, argues that social media giants like Facebook and Google have to “step up” in the fight against ‘fake news’, and describes standing up for the BBC’s editorial impartiality and reputation against disinformation around the world as a “war”.
Dr Fiona Godlee is editor of The BMJ (formerly the British Medical Journal), one of the world’s most respected news outlets for clinicians, with a monthly print circulation of almost 125,000 and an online reach of nearly three million. Graduating in medicine from Cambridge and initially training as a general physician, she then moved into research. She is also a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians. Fiona started writing for the BMJ in 1990 on a range of topics including public health, and has been editor-in-chief since 2005. In this in-depth interview, she argues that the COVID-19 pandemic is even more serious than recognised, refutes the “guided by the science” defence and puts the government’s response down to political judgement and scarcity of resources, and blames the lack of “openness and […] courage” in communicating the true gravity of the health crisis, warning that a second wave is “sadly inevitable”.
Graydon Carter is co-founder of Air Mail. After starting an award-winning magazine in his native Canada, he moved to the US to write for for Time, then Life. In 1986, he launched the satirical monthly Spy, which specialised in irreverent takes on the media, entertainment and high society, then in 1992 he succeeded Tina Brown as the editor of Vanity Fair. During his 25 years as editor, the magazine won dozens of national and international awards, and Graydon himself was nominated to the Magazine Editors’ Hall of Fame. He stepped down from Vanity Fair in 2017, and recently launched Air Mail, a digital weekly concentrating on covering lifestyle stories with “sophistication, authority and wit”. In this in-depth interview, he talks about launching a digital-only publication while sticking to the high journalistic and production values of a glossy magazine, discusses his turbulent relationship with Donald Trump from the early days of a Vanity Fair profile to the presidency, and describes the origins of the now-famous Vanity Fair Oscars party.
Alessandra Stanley is editor of Air Mail. Born in Boston and educated at Harvard, she began her journalistic career at Time magazine, and in 1994 she joined the New York Times, initially as a foreign correspondent, serving as bureau chief in Moscow and Rome. She became the paper’s chief television critic in 2003, and produced influential analysis of events from the finale of ‘The Sopranos’ to Russian TV coverage of Vladimir Putin’s re-election in 2012. Most recently, she joined Graydon Carter to launch Air Mail, a digital-first lifestyle newsletter reporting with “sophistication, authority and wit”. In this in-depth interview, she talks about bringing “poetry” to the newsletter format with illustrations and cartoons, discusses being a television critic during the format’s “golden age”, and describes the thrill of being an editor when an important and high-profile story emerges from your team.
Amelia Gentleman is a multi-award winning Guardian journalist, and famously uncovered the scandal of West Indian immigrants and their families being threatened with deportation, subsequently writing ‘The Windrush Betrayal: Exposing the Hostile Environment’. A graduate of Wadham College, Oxford, she reported from New Delhi for the International Herald Tribune before moving to the Guardian, as correspondent in Paris then Moscow. She then became a feature writer for the paper, and in late 2017 received an initial email tip-off which led to six months’ work charting the Windrush scandal, leading ultimately to the resignation of the Home Secretary. Amelia has won some of the most prestigious awards in British journalism, including the Orwell Prize, the Paul Foot Award and the Cudlipp Award, with several organisations naming her ‘Journalist of the Year’; her book was long-listed for the Baillie Gifford prize in 2019. In this in-depth interview, she describes the terrible cost of the government’s failures for the lives of the Windrush community, shares anecdotes about the life-and-death nature of reporting in Russia, and discusses how the freedom of being a feature writer allows her to focus on stories for which she has passion and interest.
Philip Bernie is head of television at BBC Sport. Joining the Beeb straight from university, he worked his way up in TV and radio, ultimately taking the editor’s chair at ‘Grandstand’ and ‘Match of the Day’. His career has seen him lead the team behind many of the biggest events in sport, the Olympic Games, the Commonwealth Games and two World Cups, and win a Royal Television Society award for editing ‘BBC Sports Personality of the Year’. In this in-depth interview, he talks about the challenge of keeping the nation engaged when every single sporting event has been cancelled and presenters are locked down, shares his passion for keeping these “national psyche” events free for as many viewers as possible, and discusses how he made ‘Nessun Dorma’ a popular classic when covering Italia ’90.
Nima Elbagir is a senior international correspondent for CNN. Born in Sudan, she moved to the UK with her family as a child and began her journalism career with Reuters, and soon moved into broadcast journalism with Channel 4.  In 2011 she joined CNN, with a focus on the world’s most dangerous regions; highlighting the plight of the most vulnerable, often at great personal risk. She has won clutch of prestigious global awards for her journalism, including 2020 RTS 'Television Journalist of the Year' for her "fearless reporting across Africa ... documenting rarely seen exploitation and corruption."  In this in-depth interview, she reflects on some of the stories which have made her name; including being the first to report from Chibok, the Nigerian village from which over 250 schoolgirls were kidnapped by Boko Haram; going undercover reporting children for sale in Nigeria - and being offered two for $500; and how her coverage of Yehya Ibrahim - a Sudanese woman sentenced to death for apostasy - prompted a government reprieve
Richard Frediani is editor of BBC Breakfast. Known throughout the industry as ‘Fredi’, he studied journalism at the University of Central Lancashire before joining the county’s Red Rose Radio as a reporter. Moving to London, he climbed the current affairs ladder and switched to television, first at ITN then as head of news for ITV, before he returned to ITN and edited their early evening 6.30 pm bulletin. Fredi took the helm of BBC Breakfast last autumn, with the programme facing the aftermath of Naga Munchetty’s censure for remarks about President Trump. In this in-depth interview, he describes the role of the BBC in combating disinformation and ‘fake news’ amid the coronavirus pandemic, talks about the Breakfast show’s friendly rivalry with Piers Morgan and ‘Good Morning Britain’, and considers the way in which the most-watched breakfast programme in the country has set a distinctive tone for its audience, including in interviewing the Prime Minister.
Mark Landler is London bureau chief of the New York Times. Educated at Georgetown University, he joined the Times as a ‘copy boy’ in 1987 before moving to Business Week. He returned in 1995 covering the finance beat, then headed the bureaux in Hong Kong, Frankfurt and Washington DC. In 2011, he became White House correspondent, covering the Obama and Trump administrations, before moving to London as bureau chief in 2019. A regular panellist on ‘Washington Week’ and ‘Face the Nation’, his 2016 book ‘Alter Egos’ shone a light on the fraught relationship between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. In this in-depth interview, he describes covering Brexit Britain from the perspective of an outsider, argues that the polarising rise of Trump has given the Times a sharper focus and identity, and shares his adventures writing “all the news that’s fit to print” for 27 years - across 70 countries.[Editor’s note: this podcast was recorded in London on 3rd March 2020, before the onset of the coronavirus public health crisis.]
Peter Spiegel is US managing editor of the Financial Times. After studying at UPenn and the LSE, he spent five years as a staff writer for Forbes before moving into the defence and security brief for the FT, the Los Angeles Times and the Wall Street Journal. In 2010, he went back to the FT as bureau chief in Brussels, reporting on the Eurozone crisis and the origins of Brexit. In 2016, he was promoted to news editor. Last year Peter was promoted to US managing editor and moved to New York, where he runs the US bureau network and leads the news operation across all its platforms. In this in-depth interview, he talks about covering “money in politics” in a US presidential election year as the Democrats struggle to find a Trump-beater; maintaining a distinctive British voice under the ownership of Nikkei and Roula Khalaf’s new editorship; and developing the paper’s footprint in the US, described by former editor Lionel Barber as a “land of expansion”.[Editor’s note: this podcast was recorded in New York on 27th February 2020, before the onset of the coronavirus public health crisis.]
Daniel Pearl is commissioning editor at Channel 5. He spent ten years at BBC News, where he edited the 2010 prime ministerial election debate, and was deputy editor on Panorama, Newsnight, and the Six & Ten O’Clock News.  In 2012 he joined Channel 4 as editor of Dispatches, winning a clutch of awards including two BAFTAs. Daniel also served as the network’s deputy head of news and current affairs, commissioning the Emmy-winning ‘Leaving Neverland’ revealing renewed allegations of child abuse against Michael Jackson.  In 2018, he moved to ViacomCBS for his current role, where he has created and overseen dozens of wholly new factual series, and notably brought Jeremy Vine into their morning schedule. In this in-depth interview, he traces his career through the shifting sands of current affairs coverage over the past twenty years; takes us behind the scenes of some of Dispatches ‘big hits’ including ‘plebgate’ and the Stephen Lawrence undercover policing scandal - which led to a full public inquiry; and shares his strategy to make Channel 5 make itself visible in a crowded news field, with hard-hitting content like ‘Hate Crimes: Uncensored’. [Editor’s note: this podcast was recorded in London on 5th November 2019, well before the onset of the coronavirus public health crisis]
Paul Croughton is editor-in-chief of Robb Report. Founded in 1976, the luxury lifestyle brand has 18 international editions dedicated to cars, boats, planes and bikes – plus travel, watches, art & design, and food. Paul has spent the majority of his 20-year career on consumer titles, during which time he held a number of senior editorial roles at Arena and the Sunday Times. He launched the UK edition of Robb Report in 2016, and moved to New York to promote the brand globally as editor of their flagship US edition two years later. In this in-depth interview, he recalls his time on the launch team for celebrity weekly ‘Heat’, describes the challenge of creating content suitable for an ultra-high-net-worth readership, and discusses his editorship so far – including the ambitious redesign of its print edition and website.[Editor’s note: this podcast was recorded in New York on 27th February 2020, before the impact and scale of the Coronavirus was known]
Barbara Taylor Bradford OBE is an international best-selling novelist and journalist. Starting as a typist at the Yorkshire Evening Post, she became a reporter at 16 and was the paper’s first woman’s page editor at 18. By 20, she was a fashion editor and columnist on Fleet Street. Her 1979 debut novel, ‘A Woman of Substance', has sold 32 million copies worldwide. Since then, she has had 38 books published in over 90 countries and 40 languages. In this in-depth interview, Barbara looks back fondly at the creative process and inspiration behind some of her best-loved characters, describes the experience of transforming her books from page to screen – and explains why she thinks 'Me Too' has "overstepped the mark".
Media Masters - Chris Mason

Media Masters - Chris Mason


Chris Mason is a BBC journalist and presenter. Over the last 15 years, he has developed an increasing profile as an expert on all matters Westminster. He also hosts the Radio 4 show ‘Any Questions?’ and co-presents Newscast, the televised podcast which started life in 2017 as Brexitcast. In this in-depth interview, Chris recalls the ‘imposter syndrome’ he experienced during his first presenting role on BBC Breakfast, describes the experience of going viral after admitting on air that he didn’t have “the foggiest idea” what was going to happen during Brexit – and takes us through his appointment and first few months as host of ‘Any Questions’.
Felicity Capon is editor of The Week Junior. Aimed at eight to 14-year-olds, since its launch in 2015 it has become the UK’s fastest growing magazine with a circulation of over 70,000. Felicity is also a travel writer for the adult edition, and appears regularly on its weekly ‘Unwrapped’ podcast, which unearths underreported stories. In this in-depth interview, she explains how sticking to the facts allows them to tackle difficult subjects without dumbing down, recalls the “baptism of fire” in her first week following the Paris terror attacks – and discusses how their loyalty to print has enabled them to buck the trend of declining circulations.
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