On St. George’s Day I posted my first of now 72 episodes of a series of interviews with people with amazing stories. The first was semi-retired political journalist, William Graham, now living in Rostrevor where he annually organises the Rostrevor Literary Festival and writes for Belfast Telegraph, was formerly the political correspondent for the Irish News and wrote for the L.A. Times. During his interview with me, he shared his experiences as a journalist working through The Troubles, keeping the presses going even when the newspaper had been bombed. He is quoted by Senator George Mitchell (1999) in his book Making Peace: The Inside Story of the Making of the Good Friday Agreement. William’s journey into journalism started shortly before the start of The Troubles in Northern Ireland, when he dropped out of college and had to find work. Journalism was his choice.
A second journalist, Rowan Hand, I had worked with over 30 years ago, when I was freelancing at the BBC in Belfast as an assistant film editor working on current affairs. Rowan, had been in the merchant navy, seen the world and made his way into television. He continued as a broadcaster up until quite recently, submitting reports to RTE’s Nationwide magazine programme and continues to write a weekly column for the Newry Democrat. Prior to this, he had also taught students in media production at Newry Institute of Further & Higher Education. A few years after he left, I found myself taking the reins as the college transitioned into the Southern Regional College in 2007. We met again on his radio show, and then on a television show for Destination Newry. He regularly invited me as his guest to talk about the work I was doing as a film maker. So my YouTube interview reversed the chairs and we got to talk about his book ‘Caritas Et Amor’ and the work he does with the homeless in Dublin. (If you have any spare coats, Rowan would be pleased to take them off your hands and they’ll go to a good home).
Twelve years ago, as part of Southern Regional College, I was fortunate to be part of an exchange to Sandhills Community College in North Carolina. The opportunity had been organised by Denise Baker, who wanted to see if two groups could just communicate through postcards. The material generated was then collected and turned into an exhibition opening in Sandhills Community College and then later brought over to Newry. I produced a short documentary of the event and screened my low-budget feature film, Fiddler’s Walk to a North Carolina audience. Denise’s interviews on my YouTube channel start next Saturday, where she talks about he father, himself a sports journalist.
Working with many ex-BBC producers, I was keen to develop new documentary projects. With a growing interest in traditional Irish music, I made connections with Chris Moser in Georgia. We have been developing a project which had first been worked on by Tony McAuley, Tommy Sands and Chris. I got involved about four years back. Though the process has taken some time, we are steadily making progress and I interviewed Chris through Google Hangout, where he talks about the changes he has seen in broadcast journalism and the impact the current political landscape how brought to bear on the shaping of news and current affairs.
My last guest was Bernard Conlon, who had spent the last 33 years based in Brussels witnessing the changes from the European Economic Community to the European Union, which seemed to happen in the background out of mind to most Europeans until the immigration crisis of more recent years.
Though out the series of interviews there have been common themes about politics, AI, automation of jobs and a world full of uncertainties. However, we are reminded that we are always in a period of uncertainty and have to push through. A sentiment that I am pursuing in attempting to upload a video a day. What these interviews will hopefully achieve is a record of ordinary people’s opinions during a time of historical change. So we are at number 72, not far off the first 100 videos. I hope you enjoy watching them? Let me know what you think in the comments after each video and you can help shape future episodes.