Nominees for Journalist of the year
Posted Wednesday 14 November 2012
Emma Woolf (The Times)
It takes guts to admit something's wrong and to resolve to do something about it. It takes even more to do your therapy in public. Even though it's behind the Times' paywall, it's clear that Emma Woolf's blog "An apple a day" about her recovery from anorexia has helped many by articulating some complex truths about anorexia, and charting a way forward into recovery. Over a year and half of blogs, Woolf does much to explain why anorexia is so much more than just not eating, why it's not a lifestyle choice or a diet gone wrong. She puts on a stone, and even grows an inch, but it's not straightforward. It never is. And it feels more real because of that. But though Woolf is unsure how much progress she has made, one reader reassures her: "Emma, the bravery and strength you're asserting to even contemplate these questions means you have already travelled miles on the road of recovery."
Tim Samuels, Men’s Hour (BBC Radio 5 Live)
When Men's Hour started up a couple of years ago, there were a few snorts from the mainstream media that questioned whether the world needed any more insights from metrosexual men. Tim Samuels has shown that it does. The programme was billed as the radio equivalent of a bunch of guys having a knockabout session in the pub, but tellingly, the best shows broach themes that men rarely talk about over a pint. The episode tackling mental health, mindfulness and therapy was compelling radio, explaining how depression is not the opposite of happiness, how universal it is and what we can do to command a little more psychological flexibility. More importantly, it brought the subtleties of this modern day epidemic to a vast social cohort that generally tends to close its eyes to mental health problems: men.
Julia George (BBC Radio Kent)
I've listened to - and taken part in - a fair few radio call-in shows and am always in awe of the presenters who know exactly what to say to distressed callers. With a morning show that focuses regularly on mental health issues, Julia George has dealt with plenty of troubled interlocutors in her time, and never fails to find the right words, the appropriate tone, the requisite level of sensitivity and concern - where others among us might dry up completely or else burst into tears. But the sympathetic approach is never mawkish and she doesn't hold back on the questions either: I'm not sure if I'd be prepared to ask a total stranger if he had ever tried to commit suicide. For listeners with mental health problems, shows like this are a lifesaver. I've always found it a great help to hear from fellow travellers; it makes depression seem less lonely, less of a personal failing, more of a human condition thing.
Patrick Strudwick (Freelance, The Times, The Independent)
Journalists who devote chunks of expensive time to exposing wrongs are becoming rare in a media world that increasingly wants it quick and cheap. It's perhaps instructive for mainstream media that it took a dogged freelancer, Patrick Strudwick, to pursue over several years the tawdry business of mental health experts trying to change a patient's sexual orientation. Strudwick nails the absurdity of this quackery when he is urged to abstain from masturbation and take up rugby, and ultimately goes on to defeat a gay-cure therapist in court action. Modern journalism too often just reflects the world, and too rarely tries to change it. We should cherish those who dare.
Lucy Johnston and Ted Jeory (Sunday Express)
Over at the Sunday Express meanwhile, Lucy Johnston and Ted Jeory have sought to bring the full range of mental health issues to a wider, more general readership. It's great to see Middle England finally taking seriously something that has in the past often been overlooked or spoken of in whispers. The paper's Crusade for Better Mental Health has already broached the link between debt and mental illness, the growing incidence of depression among sportstars, rising rates of self harm in minors and the paucity of R&D into medication for mental illnesses. More of the same, please.
Mind wants to see everyone with a mental health problem treated with respect. So we want to see open, honest and fair portrayals of mental health in the media.
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