An invitation from the Bedale Probus Club – Chris Mason – A Life Reporting – 27th August, 2019.

The BBC political correspondent and presenter Chris Mason was to be the Guest Speaker at the Bedale Club on Wednesday August 27th talking about his career as a journalist and life at the B BC and Westminster.  The Club was gracious to invite members of our Club to be their guests to hear what promised to be a most stimulating morning.   In the event we were represented by a party of twelve.

Chris said that he was galvanised to a career in political journalism by regularly listening to the voices of the BBC reporters, narrating stories of key events in key places around the world, when he was in his late teens. Cambridge next and then his first journalist experience with BBC Newcastle. He spoke about his early experiences of BBC management , being trained to wear suitable clothing, having appropriate hair styling, and received posture and deportment.

He was brutally frank with opinions and pictures of life at Westminster, most notably contrasting the political spectrum of a decade ago with that of today.  Whereas the battles were ones of right and left, Labour and Tory, today the fractious battleground is that of Brexit, with split party affiliations and the multiple action-groups.   The atmosphere is distasteful with accusations  threats and acrimony. 

As a journalist he says that he seeks to obtain facts and opinions, to assess their veracity, to organise the unorganisable, and to present a “fair” picture to the listener/ viewer.  He dislikes the interviewee who spouts out the party view repetitively and noisily.  He likes the interview with people prepared to discuss events, to converse and seek to distinguish and equally evaluate the opposition.  His favourite such are Kenneth Clarke and William Hague.  He works in exciting times.

Chris Mason is highly articulate, speaks rapidly and emphatically.  He absorbs masses of data and sorts it out well for the listener  – too much, too fast and for too long on Wednesday – but he delivered an absorbing morning, one well received by his audience. 

John Edwards