Assembly Speaker, 28 January 2019 – Sanchia Berg
Sanchia Berg, the award-winning BBC correspondent and a reporter came to Camden School for Girls to the sixth form assembly to talk about her job and the current state of journalism.
Berg began by focusing on David Irving, a Holocaust denier who she had interviewed after Irving issued a libel writ against Deborah Lipstadt, an American academic and author of “Denying the Holocaust: the Growing Assault on Truth and Memory”.
Shortly after the interview, Irving lost the court case and was sued for 2.5 million pounds. Berg made it clear that it is absolutely essential that reporters can verify the information they print. She outlined that it can be very difficult to physically prove events in this day and age as a reporter, as to cover a story costs a vast amount of money and takes up huge amounts of time, especially since decreasing amounts of the general public are buying newspapers. Because of the diminishing amount of newspapers being bought, there is less and less money for printing, and Berg described editors currently being in a “state of panic” due to the suffering state of journalism.
Berg showed the students a series of graphs, which displayed statistics about the public buying newspapers, and the social and economic status of said people. The majority of those paying for news tend to be better informed people who have been in full time higher education and are middle to upper class. As Berg explained, understandably, these are typically people who are bound to be more “news savvy” and therefore less likely to trust social media and are more sceptical of fake news. The graph showed a trend of people earning more being more sceptical of the news presented to them, trends that are constantly getting manipulated by companies such as Cambridge Analytica.
Despite the crisis of fake news and falling rates of journalism, Berg encouraged each student to venture into this field, as one person can make an enormous difference. In fact, she argued that this is THE greatest time to be a journalist, seeing as there has been a huge advancement in technology and ways of reaching a much higher percentage of people. Print was once the only means of communication, however now there are lots more platforms, so Berg urged us to pursue this.
These are a few of the questions asked in the Q&A session:
- Do you think everyone has the right to a platform? It is fine to give people a platform, but don’t let them have that platform unchallenged
- Do you believe that news is being sensationalised? There is pressure on all organisations to get news out as quickly as possible, as there is a growing understanding of public demand.. So arguably, yes but as a whole, we need to give more trust to the media and what it reports in order to understand the news better.
- How have fake news / social media followings affected the public? It confuses people! There was quite a lot of confusion surrounding the Irving case; and that’s how it works with an event that people try so hard to cover up (The Holocaust), as it is becoming increasingly difficult to evidence past events.
Sanchia Berg finished her talk with the pertinent point that “We better understand who we are by how we got here”
Esme - senior Prefect