Keep The Story Moving Forward - An Interview With BBC's Joanna Gosling
Ahead of hosting our summer showcase, News Broadcaster and Journalist Joanna Gosling spoke to us about breaking the biggest news stories, hosting live events and why we all need to start talking about mental health.
In your role as a television news presenter, you have to break some of the world’s biggest stories to our nation. How do you manage to present breaking bulletins when you are just finding out the information yourself?
When a story is breaking, it is important to make sure you are on top of the latest facts. We have a computer on the desk, so you can be across everything as it is coming in. It is also important to be mindful of what you don’t know, as much as what you do. There will be people watching and waiting for the latest information as quickly as possible, so it is helpful to warn people that what you’re announcing is the limited information that you do have at that time while things are still unfolding. We make an effort to make this clear, while also saying, these are the kinds of issues around this issue that we are thinking about, and we are mindful of all of the potential different factors that could crop up.
It is about not ignoring the bits that you don’t know, but reassuring the public that you are keeping up to speed with what you do know and are not jumping to any conclusions. It is always important to keep an open mind when reporting. Social media gives you brilliant up-to-the-minute information, but you need to be mindful that it is not always reliable, and you may get conflicting reports. Just collate everything, keep an open mind, stick to the facts and keep the story moving forward.
"Just collate everything, keep an open mind, stick to the facts and keep the story moving forward."
How does presenting the news compare to hosting live events – what are the similarities and differences?
The job that I do as a journalist is about boiling down the story to the simplest elements so you can cut through so that anybody, whether from a knowledgeable background or from a basis of knowing nothing, can understand. If you strike this balance, then you aren’t patronising anyone or leaving anyone out. I always make sure in any situations that I am addressing the simple questions - like what is the impact and why should we care - whilst also looking at the broader issues of what this will mean for the future.
So, when I host a conference, the same skills come into play. I will make sure I am relaying information in a simple digestible format. For example, if it is a technical conference, I will do my research in the same way I research a news story, in order to bring out the simplicity. I try to work through a narrative and bring out the best in people by listening to them and picking up on what has been said at an event, as I would for the news.
What can you bring to the corporate circuit?
One of the things I love about getting involved with conferences is that it gives me the opportunity to see into worlds that I wouldn’t usually have an insight into. I am in the media environment as a journalist, but hosting and facilitating conferences gives me the chance to learn about the business environment, which I am not as deeply exposed to in my day job.
"I think increasingly in the job that I do, mental health is not an issue which is off the agenda, or something that only gets spoken about if there is a particular topic linking to it. Now, whether it be showbiz, politics, or sport, mental health is cutting through everything."
The skills that I develop from meeting people and helping to deliver important messages feedback into my role as a journalist. Both the media world and the corporate circuit inform each other, meaning that I can share my experience in both fields.
In your role on the Victoria Derbyshire show, you interview a range of guests. How do you get to the bottom of sticky questions without creating an awkward atmosphere?
Sometimes it can feel a bit uncomfortable if you are interviewing someone about something personal. But my best suggestion would be to treat the situation as if were talking to anyone. You never want to cause offense, but the person is there to share their expertise or story, so you just need to give them the platform to do this. There is a careful line to tread between actually being offensive and trying to get the best out of someone, but I hope I do manage to achieve this.
The Royal family are champions of the mental health charity Heads Together
Mental health is a big talking point at the moment. How are you engaged in conversations around it and what more do you think needs to be done to break down the stigma around the topic?
I think increasingly in the job that I do, mental health is not an issue which is off the agenda or something that only gets spoken about if there is a particular topic linking to it. Now, whether it be showbiz, politics, or sport, mental health is cutting through everything. There have been a lot of sports people being very honest about it, it feels like it is being more and more spoken about, which can only be a positive thing. People are getting better at talking – we can see this in the Royals too. They obviously come from a very different background to us, but at the end of the day we are all shaped by our experiences. It is a reminder that anyone can be affected and that it is good to talk about these things, as it breaks down the stigma.