“I’ve never done anything like this before but I have had a mentor and I know how valuable that was for me, so I wanted to try and do the same for someone else.”
– Lucy Manning
Although the previous post was a slightly satirical sideswipe – a letting off of steam, if you like – there lay within a serious point.
The world was introduced to Dee Coles by someone who could be described as ‘a serious journalist’.
At that time Manning was the UK Editor of ITV/ITN News; she had previously been Political Editor of same and had also contributed extensively to Channel 4 News. This was not a provincial scribe on a barely-read ‘paper, scrabbling for time and resources.
(Given ITN’s deal with The Telegraph, Manning’s ITV “exclusive” would also appear there the very same day – again, as an “exclusive”.)
Manning’s upbringing – expensively privately schooled leading somewhat predictably to Oxbridge – ought to have given her the very, very basic tools necessary to be a journalist. It would also be nice to think that having a lawyer as a parent might help establish some basic belief in the telling of the truth – nice but perhaps foolish.
It was whilst at Oxford University that Manning won the Philip Geddes Memorial Prize, “awarded to the most promising student journalist”. The award is exclusively available to students of that university. Despite the quite humble sum involved it would surely do one’s career no harm at all.
“The Philip Geddes Prize gave me my first mention in a national newspaper… … But more importantly it gave me something significant to put on my CV. It told all the newspapers and TV programmes that I wrote begging letters to that maybe I was someone to look at.” – Lucy Manning
The prize is “made on the condition that the money must be used for a media project or for expenses needed to support an internship in the media.” If it were a sound, it would be that of a door opening. In 1995…
Incidentally, Manning has also established her own prize – exclusively for pupils of the exclusive school she attended – and has mentored the next generation of storytellers:
“My mentor is ITV’s Home Affairs Editor Lucy Manning. For me, the best thing about the mentoring has been getting the opportunity and time to talk to someone as experienced and successful as Lucy. We discuss all sorts of things about journalism and go through practical ways to improve.” – Holly Wallis, BBC journalist
Yet am I alone in thinking that the entire journalistic schtick could be reduced to ‘check details, establish facts’? And to, of course, be truthful.
We shall return to Manning’s ascendance to the BBC – to this day still surrounded by mystery & intrigue though undoubtedly facilitated by her Savile “exclusives”.
But first, hark! Is that the sound of stork wings flapping over Walthamstow?