Charlie Beckett: Filmmaker, award winner, media sensation

7 Dec

Charlie Beckett, the man of many talents and careers appeared in Coventry Conversations to discuss the general election and the important part the media played in developing campaign tactics, and reporting on the crucial event that had the whole of the UK talking.

Charlie Beckett has been no stranger to diversity and change after a wide and varied career. An award winning filmmaker, past editor of the LWT and author of ‘SuperMedia,’ not to mention working at the BBC and Channel 4 News have been some of the highlights of Beckett’s lifework. Now the founding director of Polis, the journalism think tank at the London School of Economics and Political Sciences, which holds lectures and seminars focusing on social media, financial and political journalism and media development, he devotes time to teaching others the craft.

“It was that rare thing, a very exciting general election, because we didn’t know what the result would be. The campaign really mattered, and was a close race which made it very exciting for journalists and also meant that the media really mattered” Beckett commented.

Beckett proposed that this year’s general election was unique from past elections, not just because of the precedence placed on campaign, but new through the way the campaign was reported and communicated to the public through the media. “What is interesting was the coverage of the general election and how it’s changed, for example the TV debates, we’ve never had them before. The TV debate had an extraordinary effect and put the Lib Dems in the centre. It dominated the whole coverage of the campaign and became the most important part, Nick Clegg, who most people probably hadn’t heard of, was voted as the winner of the debate.”

Beckett illustrated how the development of social media also played a part in making the political campaigns and election, a new and more engaging experience for voters. With record numbers twittering, Facebook posting, and blogging about the TV debate Beckett claims it’s never been easier for everyone to become interested in politics. “What happened in the elections was exceptional, it was a much more interesting way to talk about politics, thousands of people were on twitter answering the politicians directly, it shows that people are interested in politics and do want to talk about it, but in their own way.”

Finishing with advice to aspiring young journalists and political enthusiasts Beckett said, “Journalists are now networkers. Facebook, twitter and blogs on the web are all new platforms to display work on and show what you can produce.”

 

(NOTE: This interview was completed and published a while ago and is being included as part of my Journalism portfolio)

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