NEW ENGLAND MANAGER?: Gareth Southgate to interview for top national football job this Monday


VIJAY SHAH via PA Sports and ESPN FC

Current caretaker England football team manager and former international star Gareth Southgate has said he will undergo an interview for the manager’s job this Monday, ESPN FC reported via PA Sports yesterday.

Southgate has been the interim manager after previous incumbent Sam Allardyce was expelled from the role last September after becoming embroiled in a corruption scandal concerning players, their agents and FIFA. According to the FA (Football Association, the governing body of English football) chief executive Martin Glenn, Southgate has said he wants to make the role permanent and the two will hold further talks on the matter at the start of next week, ESPN reports.



Before taking over from the disgraced Allardyce, Southgate was head of the England under-21s side. He quickly assumed managerial position after Allardyce was caught on camera telling an undercover reporter from the Daily Telegraph newspaper ‘controversial comments’ about overriding FIFA rules concerning player purchases.

So far, Southgate has shown some promise in the role. In addition to his many years of experience at the top end of English football, Southgate has now overseen two wins and two draws of the four matches under his guidance.

It is not known if anyone else is also been interviewed for the manager’s post. Glenn refused to be drawn into naming other candidates, citing confidentiality in the FA’s interviewing processes. He only went as far as saying that Southgate was one of their stronger choices.

He added: “Not just [because] the facts of the last four games have shown a lot of signs of encouragement but the fact he’s worked in the FA for the last couple of years.

”He’s run the Under-21s well, he understands how the international set-up works so we’re going to be having discussions with him in the coming weeks to really understand what his learnings are, what his ambition for the England team is and really, really understand that well and then we’ll take a considered view.”

Gareth Southgate was born in Watford, a commuter town north of London in 1970 and began his playing career at London side Crystal Palace as a central midfielder. His prowess on the pitch soon led him to captain the side and saw them win the 1993/1994 First Division cup. He later transferred to Aston Villa before eventually becoming manager of Middlesbrough in 2006, after joining them five years earlier. He also made appearances internationally starting with Euro 1996, the 1998 World Cup and then again at Euro 2000. In 2013 he began his first national position as head of the youth side for England.

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“Gareth Southgate’s interview for England job set for Monday – reports” – PA Sport via ESPN FC Global (18 November 2016)
“Gareth Southgate” – Wikipedia/Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.
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POST-BREXIT SCOTLAND: First minister may sign off separate trade deal with EU



As the UK decides what to do next after the life-changing EU referendum in June which saw the country vote largely to leave the European Union, and the nation is facing a rocky political climate coupled with a weak pound, there are concerns about whether the UK will still be able to maintain access to the European single market.

In a sign of the complexity of the situation, and with EU leaders hitting back hard at the UK’s pick-and-choose approach to negotiations, the First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, has hinted that her country may go it alone in seeking a separate trade deal with the Continent, the BBC reports.



Around 62 per cent of eligible Scottish voters were in favour of Remain, and in the aftermath of the highly divisive referendum, some members of Sturgeon’s Scottish National Party pushed for another plebiscite on Scotland quitting the UK and rejoining Europe. In a recent interview with the BBC, the First Minister said that she believed a deal could be struck which will preserve Scotland’s own access to the single market, saving the country millions of pounds in tariffs and other fees for importing European goods.

Speaking on videolink with the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, Sturgeon said that Brexit should not come in the way of Scotland establishing its own and separate trade deal that will not be affected by the rest of the union’s departure from the EU.

“I think that is possible,” she said.

Sturgeon also added that her government are examining the technicalities of a separate trade deal and mentioned We will publish proposals over the next few weeks.”

In recent days, EU leaders have warned the UK that continued access to the single market is dependent on it continuing to allow free movement of EU citizens. Concerns over the UK being a magnet to EU arrivals was one of the issues vocalised by supporters of Leave.

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“Nicola Sturgeon: Scotland may seek separate EU trade deal” – BBC News – UK – Scotland – Scotland politics (16 October 2016)
“Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland” – First Minister of Scotland, Flickr (29 November 2014)

TRUMP: British actor lays into US presidential candidate



As the presidential campaign in the United States heats up with only a month left to go before elections on the 8th November 2016, a well-loved voice from the other side of the Pond has made a few choice words about the controversial Republican candidate Donald Trump, the UK’s ITV News service reported yesterday.

Actor and voiceover artist Brian Blessed, famed for his distinctive booming vocals, rounded on the billionaire during a video interview with the ITV channel, in which he described Trump as a ‘total, complete utter moron’ in what ITV News described as an ‘extraordinary outburst’. 


Blessed has long been a feature of British television screens, renowned as much for his imposing chestnut brown beard as for his voice. He was born in Mexborough, Yorkshire in 1936 and first appeared in the programme Z-Cars in 1962 and has made a living appearing both behind the screen and on stage, as well as doing voiceovers and bit roles for television adverts.

In the interview, the actor told ITV how he could not understand how a nation that has produced so many brilliant minds now has a large part of its electorate backing a man whom he felt was ‘gormless’ and ‘tasteless’. Blessed also personally addressed Donald Trump in the interview, picking on his blonde toupee-like hairstyle by saying that the candidate should ‘get a haircut and scram’. Blessed also saidAmerica’s full of such brilliant people – brilliant professors, brilliant scientists but you have an appalling, gormless, tasteless, individual like Trump, who really [fart sound] is that, isn’t he?”

“An appalling creature.”

“What they hell are they doing with him? He’s a total, complete utter moron.”

Blessed made the comments shortly after he collected an OBE (Order of the British Empire) royal honour for services to the arts and charity in a Birthday Honours ceremony presided over by Queen Elizabeth II at her residence Windsor Castle. He is a patron of the Hopefield Animal Sanctuary and of PHASE (Practical Help Achieving Self Empowerment) which is a network of NGOs and charities working to improve the lives of people in remote parts of Nepal.

Currently in the US presidential race, both Trump and Democrat candidate Hillary Clinton are neck-and-neck, and hotel magnate Trump has repeatedly found himself in hot water over a series of disparaging and racial comments, including selling off welfare services, proposing a wall separating his country and Mexico to keep out illegal immigrants and banning all Muslims from settling in America. The US elections are been keenly followed in the UK with most people aware of the main issues and contenders and hours of news time on British television dedicated to the election coverage.

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” ‘He’s a total, complete utter moron’ Brian Blessed delivers his damning verdict on Donald Trump” – ITV News (7 October 2016)
“Brian Blessed” – Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.
“Toy Fair – Brian Blessed” – Hot Grill, Flickr (28 January 2009)



INTERVIEWING: What to do…and what not to do (Part 2)

Today we bring you the second part of the first article on journalism advice for the fledging reporter. Last Sunday we covered the dos and don’ts of preparing for and carrying out an interview, including the all-important requirements to behave professionally and support the journalistic ethics of impartiality and accuracy.

These articles are based largely on notes distributed by a lecturer during newswriting and reporting seminars I attended over ten years ago on my journey into this exciting, fulfilling and noble career path. One of the most enduring memories I have of this lecturer, Mr. Geere, was on one occasion when he told us about having a ‘nose for news’. He admitted to us that every morning while commuting to work, he would strike up a conversation with a complete stranger/fellow traveller. Although some of us students started giving each other worried and perplexed looks upon hearing our lecturer’s little confession, it did sort of make sense to me. As a journalist, you will often speak to many kinds of people, from many backgrounds. Each with their own story or perspective to narrate. It certainly must have made his journeys a tad more interesting than just sitting there staring at tube adverts for car insurance. 

Mr. Geere taught us for one semester and module. Eventually he left the University of Westminster to pursue a job as an editor working for a newspaper in Trinidad and Tobago.

Taking notes

* When noting down direct quotes from your interviewee, distinguish them visually from the rest of your jottings. You can do that by using circles around the sentence, quotation marks, stars or underlining. Taking down notes on one side of the paper sheet or pad can actually help you rearrange the material in fitting into a viable story structure.

 * Pay attention and listen carefully. Do not waste time noting down unimportant or irrelevant details. You may be able to use them to add background or flavour to the story but do not forget that you may have a word count to worry about.

* As mentioned in Part One, be careful with the spellings of names and titles. It would be a headache to have to call back to just re-confirm a spelling or job function, or even worse, end up getting it wrong when your article goes out in public.

* Get direct quotes, especially on the major points of the interview/agenda.

* Do not spend all of your precious time just looking at the source and your notepad. Have a look around, and take in your surroundings. Especially when writing features, the surroundings can add context and atmosphere to the story. This also applies to the physical appearance of the source themselves. Do you notice any particular garments or jewellery they are wearing? Any interesting features or objects in the interview location?. If you find something noteworthy, then scribble down your impressions.

Effect of reinterviewing first source
Effect of reinterviewing first source (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Concentrate on what you are seeing and hearing

Once the interview is concluded and you and your source have parted ways, take a look at your notes. Review them and supplement them with any additional information you may have not noted down before, as well as any thoughts or ideas that come to your head as you review. The best time to do this is as soon as possible after the interview in your car, hotel room or wherever. The interview will still be fresh in your mind and that is the best time to recollect everything. Then arrange your notes in order of importance.

It is unnecessary to write in complete sentences unless you are preserving a direct quote. It is far better to write your notes in bullet points or maybe diagrams if you find that helps you.

Write down all specific information that you cannot trust to retain in memory. These include objective details like ages, names, addresses. statistics and sums of money. Try to get biographical information where needed and search the net or a clippings library for newspaper clips and other previously published articles which can offer further information on a person’s or organisation’s background.

Even here, accuracy should not be forgotten. If need be, conduct a follow-up call to double-check any unclear information. Do not be afraid or feel you are being a nuisance by doing so. It is better to be safe than sorry.

Exciting writing is fuelled by exciting anecdotes, so a good interviewer is always listening out for them. It is those stories and soundbites that are the spice that brings out the flavour in a solid piece of copy. A really sharp interviewer will also be an incredibly observant one, listening out for clues to experiences from the source that could lead the way to a good anecdote. He or she will pounce on those clues and direct the source to “give me an example” or “tell me about a time when that actually happened”.

Finding anecdotes

An anecdote is simply a small story, told in conversations as a means of relaying experiences in a person’s life. They are often used to entertain the listeners. In a journalistic context, an anecdote is a smaller story that nests itself within the body of the main story, which is the article you are writing. Often, an anecdote will illustrate something about the interviewee, such as his or her loyalty, bravery, persistence or some other quality that can add to developing the human context and background in your article. A good anecdote can really bring a story alive for the reader and will possibly hold their interest instead of flipping the page…or clicking another link.

Karma Foley Interview
Karma Foley Interview (Photo credit: kino-eye)

Watch your subject

Keep an eye out for non-verbal (unspoken) forms of communication, known in the industry as ‘non-verbals’. As humans, a lot of what we say does not come out as sounds from our lips. We often let our faces and hands do the talking. Pay attention to your source’s facial gestures, hand movements, tone of voice. Non-verbals also include things such as the clothes worn by the subject, their jewellery, their tics and seating position. Indeed, about seventy per cent of the interviewee’s total communication may well be non-verbal. So, to tell the complete story, you must give the reader the complete story. Remember, you are there in person with the source, not the reader. So you want to write the story in a way that the reader can feel that they are there in the room with you. Observation can really bring your story…and the subject of your story…to life!.

Study the environment

One of the perks of being a journalist is you are not chained to a desk or site all day. There usually is a lot of travel involved and you get to see many different environments and places. Journalism is very much about being observant and possessing a bloodhound like sense of curiosity. Indeed this is why American journalists are often nicknamed ‘newshounds’. When in surroundings unfamiliar in preparation for your interview, take a look around. Things like bulletin boards, desk items, pictures on the wall, file cabinets can all offer ideas that are gold dust for a well-told story. Even things as mundane and seemingly uneventful as how sunlight streams into the room can add that all-important contextual flavour. However keep in mind how these things relate to the interviewee or story subject. Avoid using description purely for the sake of description. Telling us that the interviewee uses a particular brand of washing-up liquid is pointless unless we can relate it to an aspect of the interviewee themselves. It is also helpful to add at this stage that while there is nothing wrong with visually observing things, it is not a good idea to rifle through your interviewee’s belongings or open up their drawers looking for story material. Keep hands to self. You can always ask the interviewee about objects in the room that will add that ‘zing’ to the story. They may even let you handle them for yourself.

Hopefully this article will help you strengthen your interviewing skills and make you into a stronger reporter. You can find Part 1 in the related articles section below this part. Next week, we will cover the nitty-gritty in organising a news story. Watch this space.

“INTERVIEWING: What to do…and what not to do” – Alan Geere, BAMS Newswriting and Reporting, University of Westminster (November 2003) class handout/information sheet.
“File:HUMINT-Interview-Set1v1.png” – ‘Hcberkowitz’, Wikimedia Commons (2 November 2007) LINK
“Karma Foley Interview” – David Tamés, Flickr (23 December 2005) LINK
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INTERVIEWING: What to do…and what not to do (Part 1)

Today I bring you the first in a series of articles on newswriting and reporting. These articles tie in with the Half-Eaten Mind’s objective to provide high-quality journalism and writing in general as well as its secondary aim as a means of education. They are based on handouts from a taught module on newswriting and reporting that I studied in late 2003 as part of my university degree in journalism and media studies. I had recently discovered the original handouts and have decided to digitally retype them for your reading pleasure, along with my own further commentary. The handouts were originally produced by lecturer Alan Geere at the University of Westminster’s School of Media, Art and Design in November 2003. All credit for the original information goes to him. The first part of the very first article is out today.

The series will be of particular use to people wishing to pursue journalism as a career, but who have no idea exactly what working as a ‘roving reporter’ entails. Also, it is hoped that the articles will also prove useful in an educational context for new journalism students at news schools or universities.

Journalism Notebook
Journalism Notebook (Photo credit: planeta)


For the vast majority of journalists, the most important means of obtaining information for their news story is by conducting an interview with a source. This is a dialogue between two people involving questions from the journalist being replied with answers from the source (the interviewee). Interviews are essential for obtaining facts, figures and comments that may not be easily found from official outlets or for certain types of reporting, such as crime beats or B2B journalism. Sources, apart from imparting valuable information to flesh out a reporter’s story, also can offer informational tidbits and quotes that can help ‘spice up’ an article and give it a more human and relational angle for the news consumer. Indeed in some cases, interviews may be the only way to get a suitable angle on a flashing news story and valuable or secret sources have been the make-or-break for many an exclusive scoop.

When conducting an interview, the best thing to do is act naturally. Do not feel stressed or feel you have to behave in a restrictive and stiff manner (unless the situation demands it). An interview does not need to take place in a formal atmosphere. Many interviewees are more than happy to be spoken to at their home or in a casual setting like a park or coffee shop. It is not a test of any sort, but simply a talk with someone about a specific topic. Think of your forthcoming interview as being only slightly different to a chat with your best friend about your favourite singer, football team or any other subject you are interested in. The key difference however, is that instead of merely hearing, the reporter is both listening and writing down what the source says, or using recording equipment to make a reproduction of the source’s conversation with said reporter. The important thing to remember at this stage, is that as a reporter, you are expected to remain impartial, so keep your opinions to yourself.

Preparing for the interview

Before setting out to meet up with your source, carry out some research first, both on the source (if they are a public figure) as well as the topic/s you will be speaking to them about. You want to show the source that you are in the know or at least have been thoroughly debriefed about the news subject. Think of what questions you intend to ask. So for example, if you are about to interview a person who sells furs and is agitated by animals rights activists, it might be interesting to find out if he or she owns a dog or cat. Likewise if you are interviewing an animal rights activist to get the other side of the story, you might ask them what life experiences influenced them to join the movement.

Make doubly sure you have your questions ready, either in written form or mentally noted down. Do not expect your news source to tell you voluntarily what you want to know. The whole point of having set questions ready and running is that they give structure to the interview as well as helping you organise your thoughts. Not only that, but having a good set of questions will get you all the information and quotes you will need to build up your news story once you return to the newsdesk or classroom.

Just like a job interview, you should show up properly dressed. Remember you are representing the news organisation you are working for, and a sloppy dress sense reflects badly on you, your employer and journalists in general. Taking care in what you wear and how you wear it also shows you have respect for the source.

An interview for television.
An interview for television. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Conducting the interview

* Introduce yourself and the publication you work for. An official press card or identity card issued by your employer will help you negotiate security personnel or concerned relatives when visiting homes, offices or public venues.

* Look your subject in the eye. This may be hard for the more shy among us, but it shows you are interested in the source and what he or she has to say. Not maintaining eye contact can make you seem shifty and if the source is from a highly sensitive context, i.e. a crime informant or victim of a robbery, for example, it can make them uncomfortable. Do not fall into the trap of being so busy taking notes that all the source remembers from the interview are your flying fingers and the crown of your head. Some people may get nervous at the sight of seeing their every word written down. You can easily commit some things to memory, or to ensure accuracy, use a voice recorder. If you do use such a recorder, be sure to get the source’s permission first, and be prepared to press pause if the subject wants to say something ‘off the record’.

* Often, the first question you will be asking is the subject’s name and how to spell it. Even if you know the name and seen it spelled somewhere already, double-check as it could still be wrong. This is especially important for people with names from cultures other than your own. Even if it is a common name in your country, still double-check, as the person may use a spelling variation of their name, i.e. ‘Jon’ rather than ‘John’; ‘Suniel’ rather than ‘Sunil’, ‘Mhairi’ rather than ‘Mary’. Getting the spelling wrong can be the fastest way to lose credibility in the source’s eyes.

* Make sure to pronounce the source’s name correctly and use their first name from time to time. It helps put them at ease, shows that you care about what they have to say, and makes for a friendlier conversation and ultimately, more material for your story.

 * Not only should you double-check spellings of names, but also those of any company or town names, and any key historical dates. Do not ever be afraid to ask what you might fear is a silly question. It is better to look a bit clueless as so to speak, than get an important name, fact or date horribly wrong.

* Begin the interview with easy sociable questions to relax the interviewee. Many interviewees do not often find themselves speaking to the media as a regular course of their lives and may be somewhat at unease at what is an unfamiliar experience for them. It is your job to make them feel more comfortable. Save the tough questions for later. Steer clear of questions that appear to have predetermined or ‘closed’ answers i.e. ‘yes or no’ questions. The interviewee will not be able to express themselves fully and you risk the interview becoming a tick-box situation. You will not get any good quotes that way. Also remember to keep your questioning as impartial as possible. Do not let your opinions or biases determine the focus of your questioning.

* Ask open-ended questions that invite a lengthy answer and encourage the interviewee to speak their heart out and give healthy anecdotes and juicy quotes or opinions. For example “How did you react?” or “Why do you think that happened?“. While at the same time paying attention to what your source says, be sure to make a note of the juicier quotes and anecdotes.

* Do not ask negative questions. So avoid things like “No news, yet?“. You do not want to make it easy for the subject to just say ‘No’.

* Let the interviewee be aware that you know who they are, which is where your earlier research comes in useful. It shows you have done your homework and it saves time being wasted by the interviewee having to explain who they are, what their company does etc. This is called ‘priming’ the interviewee. So for example, it might go like this: “Mr. Jones, I understand you appeared in a movie about the takeover by people under 30. Do you believe this could actually happen?“. Other advantages of priming include helping set a context and angle for the interview, which will in turn help you select an angle for the news story. It also makes for a more fruitful and fun interviewing session.

* Accept all proffered facts and data given by the source professionally. Do not quibble, argue (even if you know the information to be inaccurate) or express shock/disappointment. Remember, your opinions on the source or who they represent are strictly private. Accept what the source tells you on the face of it.

* Do not make any promise to the source that you will promise to write or say remarks in a certain way. This will affect your journalistic impartiality. At the same time though, please respect the source’s request if they wish for certain comments to be ‘off the record’ to avoid causing offence or breaching any written/unwritten rules of confidentiality.

* Do not promise to let your source read the story before it goes live or published

* Leave the door open for another talk or follow-up interview. Many sources can have a long shelf-life in terms of newsworthiness as certain news stories are long-running and constantly evolving, such as the civil war in Syria or Anglo-Argentine tensions over the Falklands/Malvinas. Ask your contact if they would mind if you made contact later personally face-to-face or through a follow-up phone call. Obtain a phone number or Skype/IM ID for further discussions if you need to clarify any facts or gather further information.

Part Two of “INTERVIEWING: What to do…and what not to do” will be live next weekend.

“INTERVIEWING: What to do…and what not to do” – Alan Geere, BAMS Newswriting and Reporting, University of Westminster (November 2003) class handout/information sheet.
“File:Interview.jpg” – Dennis Mojado via Kkkdc, Wikimedia Commons (22 August 2006) LINK
“Journalism Notebook” – Ron Mader, Flickr (25 June 2012) LINK
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