Russell Cavanagh [russellcavanagh]
What is your specialty? What subjects do you deal with?
As a freelance journalist, I specialise in money issues and some travel writing. I do some print media but most stuff is online. I'm also a qualified photographer.
In which media do you presently work or have you worked?
Freelance work is published in print and online. I've also done radio work and television consultancy.
Please list a web address where where one can view an example of your work.
http://russellcavanagh.wordpress.com contains a journalism samples page with downloadable examples and hypertext links.
http://russellcavanaghphotographer.wordpress.com is my photography site.
What is "news"?
News is any story that has either topicality, conflict or human interest. Any two of these should make for a story that will be relevant or interesting to a lot of people. An article (or post) with all three would be considered "front page" material.
To you, what is objectivity?
Objectivity is what I decide it is! (Well, after exploring as many sides of a story as is reasonably possible.)
What is the best headline you have ever read?
"Super Callie played fantastic Celtic were atrocious!". This was the headline used by a newspaper when a small-town soccer team, Caledonian Thistle, unexpectedly beat the mighty Glasgow Celtic football club in a match several years ago.
What headline would you like to see printed one day in the newspaper?
"We are sorry for perpetuating the hoax of climate change"
Which paper do you buy on Sundays? Where do you read it?
Does freedom of expression end where the editorial line begins?
Columns and op-ed should challenge readers/visitors/viewers/listeners as much as possible - so long as there is sufficient fact to back up any stance taken.
"News" needs to be reported on the basis of the five Ws so that the audience is presented with uncluttered fact from which they can then form their own opinions (or decide to research the subject matter further).
In some media, vested interests of advertisers and other backers may be a factor. This can be either a help or a hinderance, depending on the type of publication and its intended audience.
Do you feel that analytical and investigative journalism is being lost?
Yes. Unfettered authoritarian propaganda and celebrity/lifestyle pap are the norm these days.
With a camera on every mobile phone, is every citizen becoming a correspondent?
Potentially. Thank goodness we have countless eye-witnesses recording and uploading injustices like, for example, police brutality at G20 summits and similar events.
How would you explain the boom of the tabloid press?
Is it going through a boom period? I don't think so.
What is your position regarding the right to privacy of famous people?
None should be available where hypocrisy is involved.
What can you teach us about the art of the interview?
Plan your questions. Sit back and listen. Encourage or tease out further any particularly interesting points. Remain courteous and warm at all times. Be prepared to sub it carefully and with integrity.
Please list well-known people you have interviewed.
Not really one for celebrity. However, Nick Clegg (Deputy Prime Minister) and Dave Morris (of the "McLibel Two") are probably reasonably well-known. Other than those, perhaps the numerous candidates standing in local and national elections.
Would you say the journalism blog is revolutionizing the profession?
Absolutely! Individuals' journalism blogs can give valuable insight into how a particular journalist thinks about his/her profession and allow for a much greater to-and-fro of information and opinion via the likes of comments on posts. Blogs about the profession itself vary in quality but are usually, if monitored widely, useful for building a sense of community for practitioners.
Will the paper press disappear?
Difficult to answer. Scotland's first purely online "newspaper" is the Caledonian Mercury - a recommended visit for anyone - and they are considering a quarterly digest of articles in print form. I don't think Kindles and other electronic readers will ever reach the same level of audience that print did in its heyday. But papers are disappearing all the time it seems - with little available or waiting to replace them.
What are your thoughts of the free papers distributed in cities?
Good idea so long as they are not merely propaganda sheets.
What is the book you would like to write?
"Lessons from history made simple"
Is there a motto or ethical principle that clarifies your decisions in moments of confusion?
"Have I gathered all the essential facts at least? Did I get names and numbers for all contacts and sources?"
What advice would you give to someone who has just left university and wishes to start in the profession?
Specialise in no more than two or three key topic areas. Ability to write clean copy is crucial. Enthusiasm for a subject is essential. Do whatever is necessary, even if not directly related to journalism, in order to further your work. Multimedia skills enhance any journalist's prospects. Think creatively to progress your career.