Sandra Laville: “Never have alcohol with a journalist.”

“I think my job is to be people’s eyes and ears, to hold authorities to account and to shed light on injustice. I think that’s honourable,” said Sandra Laville, when talking about her role as Crime Correspondent at The Guardian.

A hard news and investigative journalist, Laville has been at the Guardian for the past 7 years and she has given evidence at the Leveson inquiry. She said: “It’s becoming more and more difficult to be an everyday journalist.”

Not only is this because of a downturn in newspaper circulation and an increase in social media, but because the Leveson Inquiry is threatening the very thing that journalists treasure – their sources.

Sandra Laville giving evidence at the Leveson Inquiry

Laville said: “without informal contact I would not be able to do my job properly.”  The Leveson Inquiry is looking at making all journalists’ contacts known and all meetings officially recorded.

People would not necessarily record all meetings and this also raises issues about how and who will monitor all meetings.

Laville also gave the first year BA(Hons) Journalism students some top tips on how to find news stories as “the media makes undiscovered news difficult to find”. Ringing people was her first top tip and probably the most important for finding out information but also moving proved to be useful.

Another of her top tips was to look at things with “fresh eyes” with all pre-conceived opinions and knowledge eliminated to create the most up-to date and impartial news story.

Probably the most useful tip of all to the Journalism students was “to be tenacious, don’t always look to officials for information and to find people on social media sites.”

Finally, students were told by Laville that people will always be told “never have alcohol with a journalist” but then admitted “there is nothing wrong with informally meeting and having dinner with half a bottle of wine, or even a bottle of wine with a police officer!”

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