My Media: Martin Osler, director of comms, etc, General Teaching Council for Scotland

MARTIN Osler is director of Communications, Digital Development and HR at the General Teaching Council for Scotland, which is understood to be world’s first independent self-regulating body for teaching.

It is based in Edinburgh and regulates over 72,000 teachers.

What are your media habits?

I began my career at the East Lothian Courier which, at the time, had the world’s second-oldest operating printing press.

I think the oldest was at the Kilmarnock Standard or it might have been the Dunfermline Press.

Sadly, my thirst for print journalism has waned, quenched instead by online news.

I listen to BBC Radio Scotland and BBC Radio 4 on the drive into work, which gives me the top lines of what I need to know.

At work, I peruse Twitter, which is always first for breaking news and provides some useful and entertaining depth to some of those top lines.

I always keep an eye on BBC News online too.

I miss reading the detail and comment behind the stories but, sadly, I don’t have the time and, to be brutally honest, there are not many newspapers I would choose to read these days.

Any particular favourite journalists and why?

Scotland has some terrific journalists and it’s a pity there are limited outlets for them to express their talents.

I am a big supporter of a proper national news broadcast for Scotland that will allow people like James Cook of the BBC to cover, in-depth UK, Europe and world stories of substance. I worked with James on the Radio Forth news team and he is easily one of the most talented journalists I have come across.

The news team at Times Education Supplement Scotland is good to work with as it has in-depth subject knowledge and tries to write balanced pieces. Andy Denholm, who is education correspondent at The Herald, is someone I rate hugely.

Sport is a big part of my life but, these days, it involves watching rather than playing. I think Sky’s Jeff Stelling is a national treasure and Rob MacLean is an asset BBC Scotland should use more often.

To what extent has media become an increasing or decreasing part of your professional life?

GTC Scotland used to receive a couple of media enquiries a day. Now it is not unusual to go a week without receiving an enquiries.

The Scotsman used to dedicate two pages to education on a Wednesday and The Herald likewise; Times Education Supplement Scotland had a standalone Scottish paper.

Now BBC Scotland does not have a dedicated education correspondent, which beggars belief given the stake every citizen has in teaching and teachers.

Sure, there are financial pressures we all face but when the media turns its back on a key part of our society and economy then it is little wonder people have fewer reasons to engage with it.

To what extent is New Media (websites, social networking etc) part of your media world?

GTC Scotland runs three websites, one corporate, one for students and early years teachers, and one for education news and features.

We are also responsible for developing some Scottish Government projects, like a National E-Portfolio for teachers, which are online.

We are active on Twitter which I think has limited impact depending on the number of followers and their activity; it can also attract less constructive debate at times which needs to be managed carefully.

I would say 90 per cent of our communication with teachers is direct through our websites, e-newsletters and social media.

The need to communicate through the mainstream media is diminishing as organisations have accessible and cost-effective tools to do it themselves. For any communications professional these days, a strong understanding of digital is key to a successful career.

How would you rate the media understanding, and coverage, of your sector?

I’ve ranted about the demise of dedicated education coverage. It is surprising to me, because, every day, the education world is a source of fascinating, informative, controversial and heart-warming stories.

Most of the coverage of education that appears is balanced and many correspondents take a personal interest in what is going on, often because they have children at school.

Some newspapers like to focus on tales about teachers struck off the register and that is understandable but not when it becomes dangerously ill-informed hyperbole.

As we are talking teaching, I would give media understanding a strong seven out of ten.

If you were an editor (newspaper, television, etc. state which) for a day, what would you do?

I would reinstate an education page! I would also stop ‘booting’ the public sector, given that a healthy majority of my potential readership work in it.

I would brief my best journalist on the juicy stories I’ve ‘kept in my back pocket’ over the years and see what trouble we could cause… which probably undermines everything I’ve said about the media and makes the point that, once a journalist…