I am passionate about good communication and its role in creating community. If I feel I have widened and deepened understanding through my work as a journalist, I am very happy indeed.
In more than 20 years’ employment with the Birmingham Post, I have worked as a senior news reporter, feature writer, columnist, women’s editor and special correspondent. Being able to turn my hand to any subject is part of my professional expertise.
“I have been interviewed a few times and I hope you don’t mind me saying, that I have never had an interview in which a journalist has so accurately heard, understood and shared what I have offered. I am writing to share my thanks and to acknowledge the quality of your work – and on such a tight deadline.” (Sebastian Parsons, chair Biodynamic Agriculture Assocation)
Most of my work for the Birmingham Post has been based around interviews. The simple pleasure of having an idea, meeting someone and then writing it up is one of which I never tire. As celebrity interviewer I have met Betty Boothroyd, when she was Speaker of the House of Commons, Moazzam Begg, who was held in Guantanamo Bay for three years without charge, and the then Aston Villa manager Ron Atkinson, who agreed to talk to me for more than hour without mentioning the f-word – football.
“Thank you more than words can say for your article on Bhai Sahib Bhai Mohinder Singh Ji. You described how tears rolled down his cheeks as you talked. They rolled down mine too as I read.” (Letter from a reader)
But what I enjoy most is winning the trust of those who have never come across a journalist before and who tell me their stories, often at great personal cost. I remember the Vietnamese father who built a little boat and set sail on the South China Sea holding his baby aloft in a plea for mercy. I am still touched by the young woman who fled a violent marriage in Iran and arrived in Birmingham in the back of a lorry. I will not forget the mother who was woken in the night by police saying her daughter had been murdered in her bed.
In 2005 I was runner-up for the Commission for Racial Equality‘s Race in the Media award for my “outstanding contribution” to race relations through my journalism.
“I just wanted to thank you for the wonderful Martin Bell interview. I laughed so much and so did my assistant – once she’d got over her initial horror!” (Letter from Caroline Sanderson, when she was head of publicity at Penguin Books)
I am also a commentator. I have been a columnist for the Birmingham Post and Third Way magazine and contributed to the The Independent, The Guardian and The Church Times where the brief was to take a religious slant on the issues of the day. I have had first-person articles published in the You magazine of The Mail on Sunday, The Independent on Sunday, Slimmer magazine and numerous other publications.
“I have just opened my November issue of Third Way. Imagine my delight when I saw that Jo Ind is back. Oh joy, oh rapture!” (Letter from a reader)