Thursday, 27 January 2011

Embarassing Mistakes

A tale of an embarrassing encounter with an ITN News reader.  When I worked for ITN we had the most marvelous canteen, it is where the Channel 4 News comes from now.  There was, everyday, freshly made sandwiches with at least three different types of roast, three main meals a vegetarian option, salads and a pudding area that would include things like spotted dick and treacle tart .. and all subsidised.

In the morning they served breakfast, from fruit salad to the full English everything was available.  You had to make your own toast though, with one of those machines you get in hotels.  Well the machine was always breaking down, and on this particular day I was getting toast for the whole breakfast team, so I was annoyed to see it was broken.

Luckily someone from the kitchen was standing by the machine,  I remember saying to him.  "What's wrong with it now?" He replied "I think it must be the motor as it's heating up but the chain drive isn't going round." I said "Well its about time someone fixed it, isn't it?" I glared at him and he gave me an odd look back.

It wasn't until a few days later that I saw the guy from the canteen again, this time reading the ITV morning news - it was Phil Gayle.  I had assumed, by the colour of his skin that he was a canteen worker, at that time in the nineties the only ethnic faces around at ITN were cleaners or canteen workers, things have changed for the better.  He must have thought I was a complete idiot speaking to him like that, well I was an idiot for assuming something that wasn't true.

That was a good practical lesson for me in journalism - that you shouldn't assume something to be true. For instance maybe the police have arrested someone for murder who seems a little odd, never married and was an interfering landlord.  It doesn't give you the right to name him, prejudice a case and prevent the justice system from doing its job properly.


jonnie said...

Excellent point, though everyone deserves the same respect.

Krizanovich said...

Made me laugh - you're the last person who would ever treat someone shabbily. But we've all been there. Glad you tweeted this.