My Media: Nick Jury, senior media relations officer, Church of Scotland

NICK Jury is the senior media relations officer for the Church of Scotland, which he joined in December 2008, having previously been with the Edinburgh Evening News and The Scotsman.

What are your media habits?

I’m a ‘news junkie’ and get my news mostly online or, if it is television, either from BBC News or CNN. During the week, my newspapers of choice are The Scotsman, The Herald, The Times and the Scottish Daily Mail, but of course – in my job – I have to read all of them. Then there are local newspapers here in Edinburgh, such as the Edinburgh Evening News, and when I’m through in Glasgow I always make a point of buying a copy of the Evening Times.

In my work, there are a lot of things that I have to be aware of. Everything, from farming and rural affairs – yes, the Church of Scotland is interested in those areas – to politics and world events. And everything in between. The more informed I am, the better I am at doing my job. My own, personal interest lies in crime stories having been a crime reporter in London. For some light relief, though, I always look for the quirky stories.

In the morning, I listen to BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland. That’s usually a good indicator of what the day might be like, workwise.

Who are your particular favourite journalists and why?

I like a lot of different journalists and all for different reasons. Some are just because they helped or encouraged me when I was starting out in journalism, such as Nicola Barry and Donald Ross, when I was a raw, 19 year-old in the Edinburgh Evening News newsroom on North Bridge.

People such as Annie Brown and Anna Smith really get into the heart of a story.

Then there are my journalist heroes such as Michael Nicholson, John Simpson and Sandy Gall.

Plus, there are the gresat journalists from the past, such as William Howard Russell, who covered the Crimean War and is described as the first modern war correspondent.

But probably my favourite journalist was my best friend in the business, Ian Docherty, who died four years ago. He was a BBC radio producer who worked in places such as Afghanistan, Serbia and the USA. As I wrote in his obituary, he could be a maverick and he was a genius. He was one of the most generous people, professionally and socially. Truth and objectivity were the mainstays of journalism to Ian. He had an infectious quality and confidence.

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

For nearly 25 years, the media has been my professional life – from starting out at the Edinburgh Evening News on North Bridge and working nights during the early ‘90s at Scotland on Sunday, to covering crime in London and writing features.

I think anyone who works in the industry would agree that journalism also plays an important part in your social life. Most of my friends are, or have been, journalists or writers.

So perhaps, the question should be: “To what extent has the media become an increasing or decreasing part of your life?”

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

I have a BlackBerry and it is never switched off or far away from me. I’m a slave to the flashing red light and can’t help pick it up to see what it is. I use the internet a lot. I have a personal Facebook page and a LinkedIn page for work which I use quite a lot. And now there is Twitter. I have a personal Twitter account with I think something like 500 or so followers.

A lot of my followers are obviously journalists, writers and other creative people, and others who just decided to follow me. A few months ago, I tweeted about a crime scene in Edinburgh’s West End and Ian Rankin retweeted it and within in minutes I had 80 more followers. Twitter to me is far more effective than Facebook.

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

Churches have a vital role in providing care, support and education among some of the poorest communities in every country around the world.

And every Church has something worth saying and listening to. Most churches, regardless of denomination, are involved in activities and events that will interest the local newspapers and radio and regional television.

This is particularly true when the events involve the wider community.

‘Church holds service’ is not a story, but ‘Minister preaches in supermarket aisle’ or ‘Minister speaks out for justice’ are news items that will get coverage.

Sounds easy but there is a catch: every newspaper, radio and television newsroom receives dozens of news releases daily. The trick is to make sure yours stands out and attracts the news editor’s eye. That’s where having an effective press office, knowing how the media works, comes in.

It isn’t just about whether the media understands whatever the particular sector is but how well an organisation’s press office understands the media and having a good solid relationship with it.

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

I would have the reporters out on the streets getting their stories instead of being shackled to a telephone. Journalism is about people and you don’t meet people over the telephone.