Journalism Skills Conference opened by topical Welsh Minister

Leighton Andrews, Minister for Children, Education and Lifelong Learning, opened the NCTJ Journalism Skills Conference in Cardiff on 2 December with an address about reporting Welsh and regional news across the UK.

Leighton had found himself at the centre of UK media attention in the days before the conference, thanks to his speech in the Welsh Assembly during the week about not raising student tuition fees in Wales.

Referring to this when opening the NCTJ Journalism Skills Conference, Leighton commented, “In the week during which I have been accused by the Daily Mail of introducing apartheid to higher education, I welcome the chance to welcome representatives of the UK media to Wales.”

Speaking about the way Welsh news is reported he said, “When you read the London press you could have got the impression, until this week, that devolution hadn’t happened.” He also commented that it would be easy to get the impression that it has only just dawned on newsrooms in London what the powers of devolution are.

Suggesting that there should be more information surrounding Welsh issues and cultural differences, Leighton said, “What we would ask of the UK media is some reflection and recognition that governance is changing in the UK. We need recognition in national reports that if something happens in England it doesn’t necessarily happen in Wales.”

Concluding his address he added, “There are big challenges facing Wales. Not all is perfect but we ask for a fair hearing for the diversity of cultures in different parts of the UK.”

Leighton Andrews was first elected as the Assembly Member for the Rhondda in May 2003 and then re-elected in 2007 with Labour’s highest share of the vote in Wales. He has been Deputy Minister for Social Justice & Public Service Delivery, Deputy Minister for Regeneration and in December 2009, he was appointed Minister for Children, Education & Lifelong Learning.

A former Head of Public Affairs for the BBC, Leighton retains an interest in the media and immediately prior to his election, he was a lecturer at the Cardiff Centre for Journalism.