This article is about the Journalist Bill Coles, who came to give a speech to us about life as a news reporter. I had a great afternoon and found everything he had to say very interesting.
One of the main points Bill Coles makes is that in order to be a successful reporter, you need to be charming. And Bill Coles is definitely a charmer, this is apparent from the moment we meet him.
Coles travelled down from his home in Scotland this November to give us students at the Hull School of Art and Design a talk on life as a news reporter. He is certainly experienced, with 25 years in the Journalism industry, he was The Sun’s New York Correspondent, Political Correspondent and Royal Correspondent, and has worked for different newspapers around the globe.
As soon as he enters the room, it is obvious he practices what he preaches. After introducing himself to each member of staff, and the students as a whole, he begins talking about many of his colleagues being involved in the phone hacking scandal, which is and has been all over the news in recent years, and about how so many of them are going to jail. Without us realising it, Coles has begun to charm his audience. One ways to charm, which he mentions in his newly published book, ‘Red Top’, is to start on a separate subject, something interesting that people enjoy talking about. This ‘forges a connection’ between the reporter and the interviewee. Has he done this on purpose? Or is he just so well practiced that it has become second nature? Either way, I believe it worked.
Throughout his speech he gave us many tips on how to become a newspaper reporter. How to act with interviewees, how not to act, even giving physical demonstrations on how to shake a person’s hand. At the end he gave each of us a shark’s tooth, which he had brought in himself. This was to remind us of what he said next, about what he described as ‘Cage Life’. Whilst travelling he saw the shark teeth in a completely deserted area, far away from the ocean. His story concluded that life is short, and that we need to enjoy it whilst we can, not living a ‘Cage Life’ in which you are stuck doing something you do not like. This related to any audience, not just us studying journalism, and was a great end to his speech.
After signing our copies of Red Top, we carried on talking at the pub. Coles bought each of us a drink, which must have been pricey! I was surprised, his personality did not change at all, he was just as charismatic as he was to a whole crowd of people, even when the group dissolved into just four or five students. It was as if he was interviewing each of us separately, asking what we were interested in and giving us ideas for us to write about.
It was clear he was used to a more casual setting than the classroom. In his book he mentions often taking PR and interviewees to the pub so maybe this is why. Here, Bill was at ease and knew exactly how to fill an awkward silence. The full two or more hours here are filled with more advice and stories from his life as a reporter, and time flies very quickly, so much so that our tutor realises she is late for her meeting! Bill says goodbye much the same as he introduces himself, politely thanking each of us separately for listening. I leave in a good mood, feeling much more knowledgable and regarding him as a very pleasant individual. Is this how his interviewees feel after leaving his company? If so it is no wonder he is such a successful journalist.