‘Why Politicians Should Love Journalists and Journalists Should Never Love Politicians’ lecture proves popular

Dorothy Byrne, long-time Head of News at Channel 4 argued for the necessity of independent journalism at the Jay Blumer annual lecture and attracted some independent press coverage.

Following Dorothy’s lecture, The Yorkshire Post published two stories about Dorothy’s insights. Firstly, regarding the concerns about the proposed privatisation of Channel 4 and the removal of the BBC licence fee.

“Politicians need to remind themselves that broadcast television and radio journalists are absolutely key to our democracy and should not be undermining them”, she told them.

These themes are also represented in research at the University of Leeds. For example, one ongoing project by Stephen Coleman, Professor of Political Communication, investigates the BBC and public discussion in the run-up to the next general election.

How the government influences media

For Dorothy, one example of the government’s effect on independent news was seen during the coverage of Gary Lineker after he tweeted about the immigration bill.

Dorothy tells the Yorkshire Post that she was asked to comment on the situation, but because she wanted to discuss the bill itself rather than “Garygate”, her invitation was rescinded.

This being the focus of their coverage appeared to Dorothy as a distraction from more serious discussion about government policies. It can also be seen as an emphasis by the BBC of their ‘political impartiality’.

The importance of independent public service journalism, then, is to be able to discuss essential matters regardless of whether it’s in agreement with those in power at Westminster.

Channel 4’s move to Leeds

Additionally, Dorothy Byrne spoke to The Yorkshire Post about Channel 4 increasing its presence in Leeds.

“I would like to see the majority of Channel 4 teams based in Leeds,” she said.

She argues that being based in Leeds would contribute to strengthening the north of England, a better national understanding of the population in the north and the creation of more diverse and interesting news and stories.

Dorothy Byrne spoke at the University of Leeds at the annual Jay Blumler Lecture. Her talk was titled ‘Why Politicians Should Love Journalists - and Journalists Should Never Love Politicians’.

The lecture series was set up in honour of the late Professor Jay G. Blumler, who played a central role in establishing media research in the UK.

As a leading national centre for research on political communication, the University’s ongoing research also includes topics such as the representation of military veterans by Dr Katy Parry, climate change debate by Dr Lone Sorensen and discussion around ethnic inequalities in mental healthcare by Professor Stephen Coleman and Yusuf Rasul.


The converted Majestic building, north side. © Stephen Craven (cc-by-sa/2.0)