Ray Snoddy entertained delegates with an after-dinner speech at this year’s NCTJ Journalism Skills Conference at Belfast City Hall on 30 November.
Ray is a journalist, television presenter, author and media consultant and currently presents the weekly viewer right to reply programme NewsWatch on the BBC. He also writes for a number of publications on issues relating to the news industry.
Ray spoke about his career, experiences and the need for positive journalism.
“In my life I have met all the media moguls,” said Ray. “Murdoch, Maxwell, Desmond – the lot”. Ray told the tale of catching an early morning Concorde in order to interview Rupert Murdoch in New York. The trip, he said, allowed him to break the news The Sun would come out in support of Labour in the 1997 general election – before The Sun.
He also spoke about the Leveson Inquiry, saying that training in ethics was vitally important and commended the NCTJ for the work they did in this area but added that in his view it needed to be formalised more.
Later he spoke about the definition of a journalist saying: “How do you describe a journalist? I used to say that if you get paid for it, you are a journalist. However I would now add that, if you have been trained, you are a journalist.” He also added that those who have had quality journalism training are able to work in other areas of employment as journalistic skills are so transferable.
He stated it was hard for some pursuing a career in journalism but said he would never discourage people hoping to get into the industry. “However, if things get bad a journalist has transferable skills to fall back on.” He described being able to get to the heart of a story, meeting deadlines and interacting with people were skills that can be used in any profession.
Ray, who was awarded an OBE for his services to journalism in 2000, added: “Above all journalists should have a sense of mischievousness about them.”
After completing his NCTJ training with the Middlesex Advertiser and Harlow College Ray joined The Times in 1971. Following this he worked for the Financial Times, before returning to The Times as media editor. Since leaving The Times he has worked as a freelance journalist and has also authored a number of books.
As well as presenting NewsWatch he has also presented Channel 4's series Hard News, which covered the press, and Sky News' Media Monthly. Ray’s regular columns include Marketing Week, Television, Mediatel and InPublishing.