Daily Telegraph visit
By John Morgan, Skandia Investment Group
A group of some 10 members of the CIPR Corporate and Financial Group took the opportunity to take the trip down to Telegraph Media Group headquarters in Victoria and quickly got straight down to business by standing in on the day's first Daily Telegraph news conference.
Deputy Editor Benedict Brogan chaired the conference which began as it finished - a rapid transit through the news list of one of the UK's most popular broadsheets - starting with home news, running through foreign and on to sport and then fashion. The best way to replicate the experience would be to read aloud the headlines of any day's Daily Telegraph and get through the lot in 30 minutes - that's going it some. In real life that's done by the relevant desk heads pouring through lists of stories and interrupted only occasionally with some insightful comments or questioning from the chair.
There were distinct echoes of my previous career as a journalist and a weird flashback to my first ever visit to the Telegraph in Fleet Street 30 years ago as a young graduate looking for my first job in journalism where I recall hearing the legendary Bill Deedes' distinctive guffawing voice reverberating around the office and through the open door to where I was being grilled by his deputy. I never did meet the great man nor get a start on the 'Daily Tel' but that distinctive 'voice' lives with me.
A lot has changed at the modern day Telegraph. Mobile phones, the internet and i-Pads are just three developments over each of the last three decades which have all been fused together to provide the modern print plus digital experience for journalist and reader alike that is now the Daily, and Sunday, Telegraph.
That side of the business was well explained by Business Editor Damian Reece who gave us a real 'off the record' insight into the workings of the paper - and his role in particular.
Yes, the journalists of today's Telegraph are driven by the scoop, "That's still the culture," said Damian. Nothing fundamental had changed and the proof of how that news-driven culture permeates the Telegraph is there for everyone to see, just reading through the volume of news coverage on any one day.
The web is a great journalistic tool for research but it has become an even more important e-commerce tool for newspaper groups and the Telegraph is now at the forefront of developments. Initial efforts to establish a credible web presence in 1995 were slow (but then the Telegraph was not dissimilar to the rest of British industry in embracing e-commerce at that time). That all changed a half dozen years ago when the group embraced the web and set themselves on a path which has recently led to the introduction of an app for i-Pads and an audience of some 33 million unique users. Amazingly perhaps two thirds of those hits are coming from overseas readers.
A very large part of that success is down to the approach taken by the editorial teams on the Telegraph - always looking for the scoop, quality not quantity, a web-first approach. Stories are written with an eye to optimising search - just to ensure that our Google meanderings end up at the Telegraph's website rather than the website of any other competing news operation. Having a decent headline therefore remains a priority even in the digital age, though web optimisation injects certain new rules.
So, for those members who were able to visit the Telegraph, the general consensus was that it was an insightful look at the very heart of the paper's operation and a great privilege.
From a personal perspective, I came away with the feeling that quality news reporting continues to thrive. I put that down to the rigorous application of first principles of journalism and the steely application of modern technology - to reach an even wider audience.
No surprise then that it was this newspaper that broke the biggest story in modern political history - one which shook to the core our faith in our parliamentarians.