My Media Day: James Matthews, Scotland bureau chief, Sky News

JAMES Matthews is the Scotland bureau chief for Sky News, based in Edinburgh. Having graduated with a French degree from the University of Stirling in 1986, he studied radio journalism at the London College of Printing. His first job was as a news and sports reporter at Metro Radio in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne before joining Independent Radio News in London. In the early nineties, he was chief reporter at Scottish Television before joining Sky News in 1995. He was part of the Sky News team that won a BAFTA for its coverage of the terrorist attack on Glasgow Airport in 2007.

He submitted this on Wednesday, August 15.

What exactly is it you do?

I cover Scotland for Sky News. The working day starts at 0630, when I’ll check in with the newsdesk in London to discuss the stories and plan for the day. Typical treatment of a story will involve live broadcasting, a packaged report, a website article, something for the iPad app, tweeting and a piece for Sky News radio outlets. Changed days in the multimedia age.

What did your working day today or yesterday comprise?

Yesterday, we had gone to Dundee, where myself and a cameraman had a ‘pre-shoot’ – filming on a story that will be broadcast at some point in the future. We were heading back to Edinburgh when the newsdesk called and asked how far we were from Aberdeen – the Duke of Edinburgh had been admitted to the Royal Infirmary.

We headed to the hospital and, on arrival, began broadcasting using the new iphone kit that enables quality sound transmission. Our satellite truck duly arrived mid-evening, allowing for in-vision broadcasts through our main evening bulletins at 9pm and 10pm, as the Sky reinforcements travelled from down south to a story that was going to run for a few days.

How different or similar was it to your average working day?

Similar to a day on which news breaks. On a 24-hour news channel, it’s always a scramble to get the news and get it on the telly, instantly and accurately. Simultaneously, the logistics need sorted to ensure you can broadcast pictures as soon as possible. Not easy when, as in this instance, there are large distances involved.

How different or similar was it to your average working day when you started in post?

The demands are far greater in today’s multimedia age. Previously, the Sky News television channel would have been the only outlet to provide for, compared to the numerous platforms that need serviced today.

In the old days, we didn’t have a satellite truck in Scotland which, on an Aberdeen story, typically meant that we had to hire facilities from Grampian TV to feed a report to London. It made broadcasting far more difficult and expensive than it is today.

How do you see the job evolving?

More than anything else, technology will continue to change the job I do. It will become quicker and easier for me to deliver material, and for the consumer to access it. What won’t change is the priority demand of all of us in the news industry: good journalism.

What gives you most job satisfaction?

The phrase, “Sky News can reveal…”