Scribblers, Scandal Mongers & Social Reformers
Guided by an award-winning journalist, this walk explores the changing relationships between the people, the press, politicians and royalty. We look at some of the pioneers of journalism and the stories they told and how authorities have tried and often failed to control what is reported. After the gongs, Sandy leads with royalty. She examines how the media's relationship with royalty has ebbed and flowed, using the Buckingham Palace balcony appearances as a motif. How the tradition started. Why it became a focal point for public appearances. Sandy ranges across the abdication crisis, the Princess Diana "crisis", the death of a king, how the media-monarchy relationship has moved from only reporting what was agreed (usually very little) to a position where almost anything was fair game, etc. Sandy draws on her own reporting experience to show how the "pool" and rota system works.
The next phase of the walk looks at war reporting. How the appetite for information during the English civil war and the turbulent years that followed, drove the development of newspapers. How conflict has been a driving force for innovation through the centuries. The first embedded journalist puts in an appearance. Let alone that "reporter" Winston Churchill – how his Boer War experiences made him sympathetic to radio pioneers like Ed Murrow, who wanted to report live from Trafalgar Square during the Blitz.
The "programme" ends with an in-depth report on protest and parliament. Sandy brings things bang-up-to-date by looking at how individuals and groups are using social media techniques to increase the power of protests outside parliament, the which is a tantalisingly modern echo of the early days of the "London Mob" outside the old Palace of Westminster. It's tale that ranges from William Caxton, the father of printing in this country (appropriately enough he's buried right here) to Charles Dickens (he honed his writing skills as a parliamentary reporter). We'll get the low down on College Green – we'll be standing right there. We'll get across Parliament's struggles with the press. We'll meet – indeed "doorstep" them – two key figures in the history of British journalism: Lord Reith, first Director-General of the BBC (more than anybody else he made it what it is); and the founder of investigative reporter (let's keep his name a secret until we're on his doorstep).
And as for guide Sandy – best possible guide for this walk. Award-winning reporter. Fellow of the Radio Academy. Professionally qualified Westminster Guide. And not just any old "Westminster Guide." To use the American term, she was Phi Beta Kappa in her year. Came first! Added the Guide of the Year Award to her trophy case. "London Walks guides do it best" (old English saying).
To go on the Scribblers, Scandal Mongers & Social Reformers walk meet Sandy just outside the Green Park exit of Green Park Tube 10:45a.m this Saturday.
A London Walk costs £10 – £8 concession. To join a London Walk, simply meet your guide at the designated tube station at the appointed time. Details of all London Walks can be found at www.walks.com.