BBC BROADCASTER Huw Edwards kept guests at The National Library of Wales company last Friday (Oct 7) as he shared his adventures that have happened over the last year and explored the future of digital news.
The excitement was very clear in the Drwm at The National Library of Wales, as the audience knew that they were a few minutes away from meeting the Bridgend-born journalist – who had a lot of stories to tell about his years in broadcasting.
The discussion was held in Welsh, and also gave those who were not Welsh speaking a chance to listen to the liv e translator through earphones.
As soon as Huw walked into the room, it immediately felt like a friend had just come to visit you for a few hours. After greeting a few people when he arrived, Huw sat down in front of the audience and was accompanied by a member of staff from The National Library.
After a short and informal introduction by the staff member, Huw stood and warmly addressed the room as he gave a brief summary of his topics for the evening. He also added that he was pleased to be back in The National Library and was delighted to see new and familiar faces.
Giving the audience a bit of a flavour of his life in broadcasting, Huw mentioned that the BBC now has over 2,000 staff members in its London Headquarters, due to all mediums coming together under one roof. This, as Huw points out, makes it even more efficient for journalists to respond and distribute stories that much quicker.
Providing a slideshow of images from his last year, Huw talked about filming the BBC documentary ‘Aberfan: The Fight for Justice’, which will be broadcast on BBC One and S4C this month.
To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Aberfan disaster on October 21, 1966, when a roaring avalanche of coal waste crashed into a school and nearby houses killing 144 people, BBC Wales will broadcast a series of programmes dedicated to the incident.
In his programme, Huw will trace the story of Aberfan’s decades-long battle for justice and the 76 days of tribunal evidence brought to life by actors through original transcripts.
When discussing this, Huw showed his complete interest in the topic and also added that he spent three weeks in July at Aberfan making the documentary.
Huw then went onto the next slide, which showed evidence of a very busy year for him as he interviewed Barack Obama regarding the EU referendum when he visited the UK earlier this year.
Comically telling the audience that a photo of the interview is enough evidence to say it happened, Huw emphasised the fact that it was an ‘unusual experience for a foreign journalist to interview the President of the United States of America’ and described Obama as a polite man.
The following slide showed Huw’s experience of reporting on the Paris attacks in 2015. The photos of Huw in front of the camera talking to world about the devastating attacks is something that will never be forgotten and is something that all of us will remember when tuning in to BBC One at that time.
The photos showed the importance of Huw’s role and the responsibility he had in delivering the news to the world, which he did so successfully.
Huw then showed another slide, which touched upon his experience in making the documentary ‘Patagonia with Huw Edwards’ on BBC One, televised in 2015. Huw described the unbelievable experience as one of the things he was most proud of in his 30 year career and that the countryside there was ‘beautiful’.
Onto the May elections, Huw then showed several images on the slide of his time broadcasting the topic and said that one of the aims was to try and create a Welsh perspective of the election.
On the nature of knowledge surrounding the subject, Huw talked about the system of the election and that the BBC offered a great service to people when it came to televising the event.
Huw also added that for months, public meetings were held about the Referendum and he also went into detail about the BBC guidelines for journalists and broadcasters.
Huw then went onto briefly talk about his experience in covering the news when Theresa May took up her residency at 10 Downing Street in July earlier this year.
Pointing to the photo on the slideshow of him standing in front of the camera at Downing Street that very day, Huw said that within the space of 14 hours, there was a new Prime Minister as well as a new government.
He further explained that it was a very long day for a journalist and that it was an exciting experience, a day that anyone will always remember.
The audience were then treated to a five minute clip of a 1970s Welsh news programme, which Huw showed to demonstrate what inspired him to branch into journalism, describing the production quality as ‘clean and presentable’.
This then linked to one of the topics that Huw wanted to address to the audience that evening, which was the current position of Wales within the media.
Emphasising that the BBC have a role in producing Welsh news even more so than S4C in recent times, Huw stated that we are in need of a national service when it comes to Wales.
Discussing the timetable alteration for broadcasting, Huw said that this affected the audience greatly- adding that it is important to show your audience that you respect them and that it is important to be loyal to them.
Huw then added that S4C launched a 9pm news slot in recent times and, as a result, the audience numbers have increased greatly.
This then allowed Huw to introduce the topic of the future of digital news. Before going any further, he greatly stressed that despite the fact that the digital era is slowly dominating the ways that people receive news (online and mobile apps), it does not mean that the days of television are over. They are far from over, in fact.
Following this, a slide of statistics was shown regarding audience viewing figures for a variety of channels.
A very interesting slide showed that BBC News at 10pm had 25,000 viewers, ITV News at 10pm had 90,000 viewers, ITV News at 6pm had two million viewers, ITV Wales Today at 6.30pm had 270,000 viewers and S4C News at 9pm had 25,000 viewers.
Seeing the figures written in black and white on a big slideshow really hits home as to how many people tune in to watch the news, as well as showing that television is definitely one of the main mediums people turn to in order to receive news.
Huw mentioned that it is also important to know how competitive news in print are in comparison to online news, such as the Western Mail selling 19,910 in 2015 compared to two million people reading the news on Wales Online.
With 85% of papers being produced in England, Huw stated that the era of receiving news online is growing every day and that 58% of the population depend on the BBC for news.
Huw added that he cannot emphasise enough the continuous growth of the media online, calling it remarkable and to put it into perspective, a total of 15 million people kept up to date with the referendum online.
From this, Huw went onto the next slide that showed more audience statistics but, this time, it showed the various social media sites that people tend to use to share and receive news.
Focussing on Facebook, Huw told the audience that we will no doubt see an even greater presence of the social media platform in years to come, stating that the amount of people using it has increased from 7% to 12% in recent years.
The audience then learned that the BBC Facebook platform has grown from 17% in 2014 to 29% in popularity. During the referendum, the BBC had 45 million people online following the event – a record amount the BBC have had in the space of many years.
Huw then went on to say that, regarding the topics that were popular in 2016, the BBC Breakfast EU Referendum result special programme and the BBC 6pm News slot in January featuring the news of David Bowie’s death were the most watched.
Some of the most popular stories that people read about online throughout 2016 were Alan Rickman’s death and the Paris attacks. Huw also added that the two main topics people mentioned online this year was the EU immigration at 38% and the EU referendum at 40%. Foreign Affairs was the topic least talked about, having a result of 10%.
Huw concluded his presentation by reassuring the audience on Friday evening that the BBC is are still very much present on television and that is the important thing.
The BBC competes with all other broadcasting channels every day of the week and it is the BBC’s duty to provide the Welsh audience with a good service of national broadcasting.
After the discussion, the audience had an opportunity to take part in a Q and A session.
The questions focussed on the role of a journalist during the Referendum, further information on what inspired Huw to have a career within journalism and the advantages to digital media.
Regarding the topic of digital media, Huw said that both the public and journalists have the advantage to receive news rapidly. Accepting that there needs to be more sources and platforms for young people, Huw added that micro news is a healthy thing and that the decision of what is the most reliable source to receive information from is up to the readers.
Addressing the lack and scarcity of sources for the Welsh population, Huw went on to say that in order to expand, people need to take advantage of the online sources that are available.
Huw concluded the evening by telling the audience that what gives him hope is the fact that people have knowledge regarding the ways news can be accessed, be it through online sources or television.
After the discussion, Huw was able to speak to The Herald on how successful he felt the evening was as a whole: “By being here, I just wanted to give to people a sense of what I’ve been doing over the last year because it’s been quite varied. It’s also not often that I get a chance to do an evening in Welsh. I don’t often get that opportunity, so that was enjoyable for me.
“I also wanted to explain a little about where Welsh news is heading, because it’s at quite a challenging place at the moment. I also wanted to say something about audiences, not just in Wales, but across the UK because it’s very competitive now and what we’re seeing with Facebook and other sources of news is that it’s getting incredibly competitive continuously.”
Huw continued by saying: “Newspapers these days have to diversify and produce content online, otherwise there is no future. Tonight was to give people a flavour of how that works.
“I also thought that the questions that were asked were interesting because people are engaged and when we have had such a busy year, with the referendum and elections, for example, people are interested in how the media works. The media plays such an important part in these things.
Huw added: “The talk was very enjoyable, but it wasn’t for me to enjoy but for the people to enjoy. It was a good chance to meet and speak to people in the audience who watch BBC news regularly because they can give us some feedback, and feedback is always good, whatever the view.”
Ysgol Gynradd Ciliau Parc to close temporarily due to a further COVID-19 case
YSGOL GYNRADD CILIAU PARC, Ciliau Aeron will be closed temporarily as a further COVID-19 case is confirmed. Two Contact Groups out of three have now been affected by positive cases and therefore, due to lack of staffing, the whole school will close for a period of time.
Pupils in the affected Contact Groups has been asked to self-isolate for 14 days due to being close contacts of a confirmed COVID-19 case at the school. These pupils and staff must remain at home for 14 days to reduce the possible spread of the virus to family, friends and the wider community. All parents have been contacted by the School.
The Council urges all parents to refer their children for a test if they develop any of the symptoms, which are:
- a high temperature
- a new continuous cough
- a loss or change to sense of smell or taste.
Parents should also be aware of other symptoms early on, such as headaches, tiredness and general aches and pains usually associated with the flu.
You can apply for a test online https://gov.wales/apply-coronavirus-covid-19-test or by phoning 119.
No further details will be provided regarding this matter.
Hundreds sign petition against Ceredigion parking charges
HUNDREDS of local residents have signed a petition against plans to reintroduce charges at some Ceredigion Council car parks.
Ceredigion Liberal Democrats started the campaign on Friday, which attracted over 400 signatures in less than 24 hours, in response to an outcry from businesses and residents across the county.
Ceredigion County Council announced plans this week to move immediately to a cashless charge system from 1st December at 13 car parks in Aberaeron, Aberystwyth, Cardigan and Lampeter. Cashless charging will follow in March for another 3 car parks, including at New Quay.
The petition can be signed at www.ceredigionlibdems.org.uk/parking.
Cllr Elaine Evans, Liberal Democrat Councillor for Cardigan Rhyd-y-fuwch, said:
“I am absolutely gutted that the charges are being reinstated in Cardigan, especially so close to Christmas.
“This year more than any other, times have been extremely difficult for traders and residents in Cardigan. So many of us are worried about the detrimental effect parking charges will have on a town that already has a safe zone implemented.
“We need to keep parking free throughout the pandemic. If we don’t, I worry how much of our town will survive.”
Cadan ap Tomos, Welsh Liberal Democrat Senedd candidate for Ceredigion, added:
“So many local businesses are struggling to keep afloat during this pandemic, and need all the help they can get. That’s what makes this decision by the Plaid Cymru/Independent Council so baffling.
“I’m particularly worried that by going cashless, a great many people who have no bank card to pay with will be shut out of visiting our town centres.
“The fact that hundreds of people have backed our campaign in less than a day should show just what a bad decision this is for our communities.”
Vaccine roll-out ‘within days’
THE FIRST COVID-19 vaccine has been given the go-ahead and the roll-out across Wales will start within a matter of days, the Chief Medical Officer announced on Tuesday, December 2.
The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has now authorised the first vaccine as safe and effective on the basis of detailed independent expert review of evidence from large scale clinical trials.
The Pfizer Biontech vaccine has become the first to receive MHRA clearance in the UK and 40 million doses of the vaccine will shortly be available for delivery across the UK, with Wales getting its allocation based on population.
The effects of the vaccine may not be seen nationally for many months and the advice on keeping Wales safe remains the same for everyone; keep contacts with other people to a minimum, keep a 2 metre distance from others, wash hands regularly, wear a face covering where required and avoid touching surfaces others have touched, wherever possible.
Approval from the MHRA is the first step of Wales’ roll-out plan, which has seen preparations on-going since May. There are still a number of stages which need to happen before the vaccine reaches those in highest need and is ready for use, but this process is expected to happen over the next week.
These stages include:
- The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) finalising and publishing their guidance for the whole of the UK
- Finalising training materials for staff and patient information leaflets
- Training of experienced immunisers for this particular vaccine
- Final legal frameworks to allow registered health professionals to administer the vaccine to patients need to be authorised by each Health Board in Wales.
- The vaccine – which needs to be administered in 2 doses – will initially be prioritised and available for those aged 80 and over, care home staff and residents and those working within health and social care.
Pfizer Biontech vaccine needs to be stored at ultra-low temperatures. These centres have already been decided by Health Boards and are in the process of being stood-up.
As further supplies become available and additional vaccines receive MHRA approval, a staged approach will see other groups be offered the vaccine, based on risk of serious complications and deaths.
Individuals in the priority groups for a COVID-19 vaccine will receive an invitation from their employer or health board providing information about the COVID-19 vaccines, telling them where to go and what to do on the day of their appointment.
People are urged to wait to be invited, which will happen through NHS systems. Please do not ask your pharmacist or GP.
There are plans in place for people who are housebound and for care homes to be vaccinated as soon as safely possible, with the approved vaccine being safely taken to them using a mobile service, once cleared for this purpose.
The development process for coronavirus vaccines has been as stringent as any other but the process in the face of the pandemic has been sped up by prompt, world-wide funding and a reduction in paperwork. The length of the trials have not been shortened, and the usual safety measures remain in place.
The vaccine will not be mandatory and people will be able to choose whether they take up the vaccine or not. Information will be provided to people before vaccination to reassure them about patient safety and robust consent processes will be in place.
The Chief Medical Officer for Wales, Dr Frank Atherton, said: “It is fantastic to finally say that the first COVID-19 vaccine has been given the green light. We know now that we have a safe and effective vaccine for use across the UK – this is the positive news I and so many across the country have been waiting for.
“All our NHS organisations across Wales have embraced the challenge presented to them and are at the advanced stages of planning for the arrival of a vaccine. We have tested distribution and storage arrangements to ensure we can get vaccine safely to every part of Wales.
“There’s still a few stages we need to work through but once all these safeguards are in place, vaccination can begin. There will only be relatively small amounts of the vaccine at first, those who have been advised as most needing the vaccine first, through approved delivery mechanisms. A full announcement around the timetable for roll-out in Wales will follow in the next few days.”
The First Minister, Mark Drakeford, said: “Today’s news is a small glimmer of light at the end of what has been a long and dark tunnel.
“We know some people within our communities are much more at risk than others from the serious complications of COVID-19, which is why the new vaccine is being prioritised to protect them first.
“Whilst these first doses are given at fixed sites and occupational settings, and to protect our NHS and social care services, we must all continue to do our bit to prevent the spread of coronavirus: regular hand washing, social distancing, and wearing a face covering where required to protect yourself and others.”
Andrew RT Davies MS – the Shadow Minister for Health said: “This is positive news in the battle against Covid but, as ever, the devil is in the detail of delivery.
“And so, today the Health Minister must today address a number of vital issues including:
- The ability of NHS Wales to start the vaccination process and when this will happen
- How many doses will be available to Wales in the first tranche and how they will be distributed
- Who the first recipients will be
- How, when other vaccines become available, NHS Wales will cope with the different procedures
“It will also require a strong public health campaign around take up of the vaccine.
“The people of Wales need this information to give them some confidence in how the programme will be handled here.”
Mr Davies’ remarks allude to one substantial issue regarding the vaccine’s distribution.
Both Wales and Scotland have a higher proportion of their respective populations in vulnerable groups. However, thus far, the UK Government has targeted Covid support on a per-head basis and not by need.
Vice-chair of the COVID-19 Vaccine Programme Board, Richard Roberts from Public Health Wales, said: “It is a significant achievement that only 9 months after WHO announced the global pandemic that we now have the first safe and effective vaccine available for use in Wales, and other vaccines to follow.
“Everyone has been preparing for months to deliver the COVID-19 vaccine programme, and it is very exciting that we will be able to begin, once the final steps have been put in place so that the programme can be delivered safely.”
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