Sally Magnusson, presenter of BBC Scotland’s flagship current affairs programme Reporting Scotland, gave an entertaining after dinner speech at the Journalism Skills Conference.
NCTJ-trained Sally began her career as a journalist on The Scotsman and then the Sunday Standard and she was pleased to be reminded of her training by Kim Fletcher, NCTJ chairman.
Sally said: “I studied my NCTJ journalism training at the Thomson Regional Newspaper training scheme in Newcastle, the forerunner of the Press Association Training course which I am pleased to see has won an award tonight.
“At Newcastle I was taught by the legendary John Brownlee and another of my tutors was Walter Greenwood who many people in this room will know. I often see many other Brownlee graduates in my work, one of which is Jim Naughtie.
“It is funny, but as I was passing the conference question time panel debate this afternoon I heard the phrase ‘rat-like cunning’ and it gave me quite a start as that was one of Brownlee’s famous sayings.”
Sally added: “I still have my certificate on my wall, alongside my TS Murray award of course.”
In an hilarious speech at BBC Scotland’s Pacific Quay headquarters, Sally light-heartedly poked fun at her BBC colleague Robert Peston.
Sally said: “These are challenging times for the media industry, not helped by last year’s financial upheaval, although it is good to know there are some that prosper with the misfortune of others. I’m talking about Robert Peston.”
Of her television career she described how television is sometimes seen as “a device that presents people who haven’t anything to do to watch people who can’t do anything”.
Sally also spoke about the challenges of being a mother of five and working as a television broadcaster and journalist.
She said: “One moment you are sitting at a breakfast table arguing with a six-year-old about how many cocoa pops they should eat, when the next minute the phone rings and I would find myself interviewing the chancellor of the exchequer.
“On one of those days I would find myself sitting next to the director general of the BBC when I would find myself asking if he would ‘like mummy to cut his meat for him’.”
Sally joined BBC Scotland to present current affairs programmes and went on to present Sixty Minutes, the BBC’s successor to Nationwide, for network television.
In October 1986 she joined BBC One’s Breakfast Time, later Breakfast News, as one of the main presenters and stayed with the programme until moving back to her native Glasgow in the mid-nineties.
In 1996 she won a Scottish Bafta for her commentary on the BBC’s Dunblane: A Community Remembers, and in 1998 was awarded a Royal Television Society award for her exclusive television interview with Earl Spencer, Diana: My Sister the Princess.
As a reporter Sally has covered the General Elections in 1997, 2001 and 2005, the funeral of Princess Diana and the opening of the new Scottish Parliament.
Sally has presented programmes on Radio 2, Radio 4 and Radio Scotland, and is the author of books including The Flying Scotsman, Family Life and Dreaming of Iceland.