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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.
331 Episodes
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Laura Wilshaw is editor of ITV News at Ten. She previously held senior positions at Euronews, 5 News, NBC and Sky News, and her team was recently shortlisted for a BAFTA. In this in-depth interview, she reflects on this year’s “incredible news cycle” and the multifaceted editorial & logistical challenges brought on by the pandemic; ponders on the ethics of balancing human empathy with the responsibility to report fairly when covering sensitive (yet divisive) issues such as the UK’s migrant crisis; and shares her passion for increasing the representation of women in newsrooms - recognising how her mentoring of other women who aspire to work in television news is bolstered by her own “non-traditional route” (and late entry) into the industry.
Jonathan Munro is the BBC’s Head of Newsgathering, leading the day-to-day activity and deployments of all journalists working across the network’s 60 international bureaux. Prior to this he spent 26 years at ITN joining as an editorial trainee, and ultimately becoming their Correspondent reporting on stories in the US, Russia and Africa. In this in-depth interview, Jonathan describes the challenges of covering a year of “a lot of shade and not much light” - including Covid-19, Brexit and the Presidential election; discusses incoming D-G Tim Davie’s new social media impartiality guidelines, and their efforts to improve on-screen diversity; and shares lessons learnt following the BBC’s controversial coverage of the aborted police investigation into Sir Cliff Richard. 
Professor Sir David Omand was the first UK Security and Intelligence Coordinator, and formerly director of GCHQ. Spending much of his career leading the UK’s national counter-terrorism strategy, he was directly responsible to the prime minister for homeland security. His book ‘How Spies Think: 10 Lessons in Intelligence’ is described as a “call to arms for more rational decision-making” and shares the spooks’ problem-solving skills. In this in-depth interview, Sir David argues the government has “failed to protect its citizens” against Covid-19 - after several warnings that a global pandemic was likely - and warns we now have “years of great disturbance” ahead; blames “disinformation, conspiracy theorists and social giants” for encouraging division and “creating a fundamentally fragmented society;” and recalls the pressure of making judgements then delivering difficult news to the PM - including giving the order to “ready the fleet” after warning Margaret Thatcher that Argentina was about to invade the Falkland Islands, and his ringside seat whilst Tony Blair dealt with 9/11 and the invasion of Iraq. 
Nicholas Coleridge is chairman of the Victoria and Albert Museum. Beginning his career as a journalist at Tatler, he moved to the Evening Standard as a columnist, and was appointed editor of Harpers & Queen (now Harper’s Bazaar) at age 29. Joining Conde Nast in 1989 he spent 26 years at the top, overseeing some of the world’s leading brands such as GQ and Vogue, operating in 32 markets and reaching over 400 million. An author of fourteen books, his renowned memoir ‘The Glossy Years’ recounts his experiences as a socialite, attending parties with Princess Diana; and his adventures as a journalist, including a brief spell in a Sri Lankan prison. In this in-depth conversation, he describes the incredible challenge the pandemic has brought to the museum sector - noting the V&A has lost 75% of its visitors, he discusses the long-term viability of maintaining the nation’s cultural heritage; reflects on the exciting day-to-day of the media industry and his experience launching the staple magazines Vanity Fair, Wired and Glamour; and fondly explains why he will forever be “an optimist for print.” 
John Battelle is co-founder and CEO of Recount Media. Founded in 2018, they have developed “a new approach to politics” that “won’t waste your time,” by collating current affairs content to create videos that reflect the modern consumers’ shorter attention span. His eclectic career has encompassed two professorships and co-founding Wired magazine. He also wrote the best-selling book, ‘The Search: How Google and Its Rivals Rewrote the Rules of Business and Transformed Our Culture,’ regarded as the definitive take on the subject. In this in-depth interview, John reflects on a long career in the media industry, seeing it lose almost half of its journalists and suggests what must be done to tackle its decline; argues that big tech are stifling smaller companies’ ability to innovate by withholding data from developers and creators; and in the lead up to an election marred by fake news and disinformation, shares his frustrations that “free speech doesn’t mean free reach” - and how the election result may need a ‘recount’ in more ways than one... 
Scott Omelianuk is the newly appointed editor-in-chief of ‘Inc.’ Founded in 1979, the award-winning magazine focuses on inspiring entrepreneurs and has a monthly reach of 25m. In an eclectic journalism career, taking in positions at both GQ and Esquire, Scott has also been a film producer, and presented several TV shows across fashion and design. In this in-depth interview, the self-described “under-achieving entrepreneur” explains how a series of failed ventures has given him an admiration for business people and a determination to help inspire and equip them to succeed; shares concern over the “win at all costs” attitude of today’s social giants, and how their huge footprint forces smaller brands to compete for resource and money; argues how the US government letting businesses down amidst the pandemic (and recent social unrest), puts responsibility on companies to lead the way and use their power to “do the right thing.” 
Eric Schurenberg is CEO of Mansueto Ventures, publishers of iconic business magazines ‘Inc.’ and ‘Fast Company.’ Founded in 2005, and with a team of over one hundred, their mission is to inspire and inform the business leaders of the future. Over two decades, Eric’s career has spanned both business and finance, beginning on Wall Street at Goldman Sachs, before moving into journalism with stints at BNET and CBS MoneyWatch. In this in-depth interview, Eric argues there is still “real magic” and potential in the printed page, despite the growth of digital; talks passionately about diversifying the boards of corporate America, and the genuine company and employee benefit of opening up opportunities and welcoming differing perspectives; and shares his fears that if the US “closes its borders” post-election, this would “deny employers much-needed talent” and lead to “economic suicide.”
Robert Wolf is an entrepreneur, investor and board member of the Obama Foundation. Known to many as ‘the Dem on Fox,’ he is a regular contributor on Fox News and Fox Business, challenging Republicans and arguing the Democrats’ position. Starting out as a “brash punky-type kid,” in a meteoric career on Wall Street he spent a decade at Salomon Brothers, before 18 years at UBS saw him rise through the ranks, ending up as Chairman and CEO of UBS Americas. In 2009, President Obama appointed him as economic advisor, tasked with focussing on job creation, economic recovery and US exports. In this in-depth interview - and with the Presidential election just weeks away - he discusses the prospects of a Biden victory, the commotion of the campaign so far and addresses fears that Trump will not leave the White House without a fight; reflects on his efforts to guide President Obama through the precarious economic circumstances following the global recession of 2008; and shares anecdotes of time spent with the Obama and Biden families - golfing with the President, his long friendship with VP Biden - and considers whether former First Lady Michelle Obama would (or should) run for election.
Craig Newmark is the founder of Craigslist. Established in 1995, it’s one of the world’s most popular websites, active in 700 cities across 70 countries. Stepping away from day-to-day management of the site in 2000 to become a full-time philanthropist, Craig is a passionate campaigner for a free and fair press - supporting journalism, and combatting disinformation. In this in-depth interview, he recalls the journey of Craigslist from an obscure email distribution platform built in his bedroom into the $3bn global behemoth it is today; likens his philanthropic mission to stand up for a free media to that of a “combat engineer, fighting to preserve western democracy” from its “biggest enemy” which he calls “information warfare;” and shares his deeply-held belief that the media is “the immune system of democracy” - arguing that much of it is “failing the American people at the time they most need it.”
Toby Young is a writer, social commentator - and one of the most provocative voices in Britain. In his thirty years in journalism, he founded The Modern Review with Julie Burchill in 1991, has spent over two decades at The Spectator, and is associate editor at Quillette magazine. His memoir of time spent at Vanity Fair in New York, ‘How To Lose Friends and Alienate People’ was turned into a Hollywood film. In this in-depth interview, Toby argues that the government-enforced lockdown has failed to balance public health with science and the sustainability of the economy, and his motivation to campaign against these “disproportionate measures;” contends that so-called ‘cancel culture’ is a “resurgence of Puritanism,” and recalls his own ‘cancellation’ when he “lost five jobs to the Twitter mob;” his experience encouraged him to set up the Free Speech Union to support those who are, in his opinion, fellow victims of the rising precariousness of free speech.
Naomi Kerbel is head of television, radio scheduling and special projects at Bloomberg, and creator of the acclaimed podcast ‘Show Me The Way.’ Beginning her career as an actress, she then moved into business as an associate at Goldman Sachs, when a chance encounter with Jeremy Vine put her on the path to journalism. Soon after, she rose through the ranks at CNBC before moving to Sky News as business editor. Her passion for diversity and inclusion inspired her podcast, which provides a platform for successful women to share their stories and challenges. In this in-depth interview, Naomi discusses the Black Lives Matter movement and her hopes that this will reshape the workplace; argues that personal branding “is crucial,” with a particular focus on “leveraging your life through your wardrobe;” and explains how Bloomberg is meeting the challenges of unverified clickbait and an increasingly pressured media marketplace.
Eliot Higgins is the founder and chief executive of Bellingcat, the investigative journalism ‘collective’ responsible for “uncovering wrongdoing all around the world”.  Founded in 2014 with HQ in the Netherlands, they have 18 employees and more than 30 contributors around the world. Pioneers of open-source journalism, their forensic research of publicly available data and ‘citizen-journalist analysis’ uses techniques such as ‘geo-location’ to pinpoint exact locations through satellite imagery to corroborate or disprove claims. Their work uncovering cases of child abuse in Ukraine was nominated for the 2020 European Press Prize for Innovation. In this in-depth interview, Eliot describes how they identified the Russian rocket-launcher which brought down Malaysian Airlines flight MH17; explains how they uncovered the identities of the Russian agents involved in the Salisbury novichok poisoning; and discusses the threats they face - online and physical - from those trying to frustrate their work, including governments and secret services.
Christophe Deloire is Secretary-General of Reporters Sans Frontières, known internationally as Reporters Without Borders. Founded in Paris in 1985, it’s the world’s biggest NGO “specialising in the defence of media freedom” and has over 150 correspondents covering ten international bureaux, and a €6m budget. Since 2002 their annual ‘World Press Freedom Index’ has measured the level of media freedom in 180 countries.  Before taking the reins in 2016, Christophe ran the Journalists’ Training Centre in Paris, and spent nine years as an investigative reporter for 'Le Point.' He is also a documentary maker and author of several bestsellers. In this in-depth interview, Christophe reveals the extraordinary fact that nearly half of the world’s population still lacks access to free information; argues these are the most perilous times for journalists in terms of their physical safety, coming under targeted attack as never before; and discusses the night they turned off the Eiffel Tower’s lights to pay tribute to murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Peter Wanless is chief executive of the NSPCC, the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. Before taking the reins in 2013 he was CEO of the Big Lottery Fund, and prior to that held a number of senior civil service jobs across Whitehall, working directly with senior ministers including Michael Portillo, David Blunkett and John Major. In this in-depth interview, he argues children are the “hidden victims” of the pandemic, noting a 37% rise in calls to Childline from children under 11; describes the challenges the NSPCC faces as charity fundraising comes under unprecedented pressure, and as a former senior civil servant discusses the opportunities and risks that the government’s planned shake-up will bring. 
One of the best-known TV journalists in the UK, Mark Austin presents ‘The News Hour’ on Sky News. Beginning his career at the Bournemouth Daily Echo in 1976, he joined ITN in 1986 and presented ITV News at 10 for well over a decade, which was twice awarded the Royal Television Society ‘Programme of the Year’. He left ITV News in 2017 after just shy of three decades, and joined Sky News, initially reporting from the U.S. before returning to the studio. In this in-depth interview, Mark recounts his adventures on the front line, reporting on events such as 9/11, both Iraq invasions, genocide in Bosnia, and winning a BAFTA for his recent coverage of the Hong Kong protests; reflects on the 2003 death of his ITN colleague Terry Lloyd, killed by US forces’ friendly fire in Iraq; and talks about the international friendships he’s made along the way including, notably, Nelson Mandela.
Neil Brown is president of The Poynter Institute for Media Studies. Founded in 1975, based in Florida and with a team of over 50 people, the Institute aims to “improve journalism and strengthen democracy around the world”.  Joining as president in 2017 after 24 years at the Tampa Bay Times (seven of which as editor) while under his leadership the title won dozens of awards, including six Pulitzers. In this in-depth interview, Neil argues that media organisations shedding journalists is placing journalism itself in peril, and undermining democracy; charts the progress of PolitiFacts, their fact-checking tool which rates politicians’ claims on their ‘Truth-O-Meter’; and describes the key role fact-checking and media ethics will play during the forthcoming US Presidential election - where the sitting President seemingly “has little regard” for either.
Decca Aitkenhead is chief interviewer at the Sunday Times. Beginning her career at The Independent in 1995, she then spent 21 years at The Guardian, winning ‘Interviewer of the Year’ at the British Press Awards in 2009. In 2018 she joined the Sunday Times where she has profiled the very biggest names including Hillary Clinton, JK Rowling, Oprah Winfrey and most recently made headlines talking to Tony Blair. She has also written her memoir ‘All At Sea’ which reflects on the tragic death of her husband and coming to terms with her grief. In this in-depth interview, Decca reveals some of the methods behind her successful technique, reflects on her explosive 2008 interview with then chancellor Alistair Darling where he inadvertently revealed “the country was facing the worst recession in 60 years”, and discusses how she has been able to write about the devastating events in her personal life with such honesty.
Hadas Gold is CNN’s media, tech and politics correspondent based in London. Beginning her career as a web producer at Politico in 2012, then media reporter, she joined CNN in 2017, moving to the UK the following year. Since then she reported extensively on Brexit and now coronavirus. In this in-depth interview, Hadas discusses the current east/west tensions in tech and its impact on the future of the internet, shares her concern for reporters accused of fake news in countries without the 'protection of the first amendment', and reflects on her experience in Argentina with the Pultizer fellowship in 2011, where she spent time with the cartoneros who dig for recyclables in Buenos Aires, learning to handle sensitive situations and convey both emotion and politics when telling their story.
Alex Bilmes is editor-in-chief of Esquire UK. Beginning his career in 1994 as a reporter for the Richmond and Twickenham Times (under chairman David Dimbleby), he joined Esquire as editor in 2011, via senior positions at British GQ and Vogue. In this in-depth interview, Alex reveals his repositioning strategy – increasing the cover price, publishing bi-monthly and preferring ‘everyday heroes’ above celebrities on the cover, discusses his love of print journalism and figuring out how it can adapt to the shifting consumer habits, and shares anecdotes from his interviews with the likes of Jay-Z and Angelina Jolie.
Jon Sopel is the BBC’s North America editor. Joining the Beeb in 1983, he rose through the ranks to become one of the best-known faces across their flagship programmes. Appointed to his current role in 2015, he is familiar to many for standing outside the White House reporting on the ups and downs of the Trump presidency. In this in-depth interview, Jon argues that the BBC’s “fair and balanced” coverage is more important than ever amidst growing claims of ‘fake news’, discusses Trump’s ability to surprise even him on a near-daily basis, and shares his excitement at the launch of ‘Americast’, his new podcast co-hosted with colleague and friend Emily Maitlis for what is set to be a fascinating and unprecedented election. 
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