Category: News

How simple storytelling techniques can make you a better writer

I’m running a new online course, starting in January.

This guest blog post for Journalism.co.uk explains some of the techniques and insider tips I will share from some 20 years of freelancing.

Here’s a sample from the text:

People love to read about people.

Keep that idea in mind as you structure your draft, whether a feature, client copy or a press release, and you will build empathy with your readers.

Fail to grasp that, however, and the reader will simply scroll on.

Read the full post here.

And sign up for the Storytelling and Engagement Techniques Masterclass.

How to spend a weekend on the Herefordshire Cider Circuit

National Apple Day had cider fans celebrating this week.

I joined in the spirit of the autumnal event with a short UK break in Herefordshire, following a newly launched Cider Circuit [pictured above] of orchards and producers.

It was great to be on assignment and having a change of scene in a safe, socially distanced way before new lockdowns loom.

Here’s a flavour of the feature:

Cider has been part of Herefordshire’s rural heritage since medieval times with local cider first exported to London in the 17th century as a fashionable alternative to wine.

In recent years, the cider market has been dominated by big brands, mass production and the rise of fruit-flavoured ciders

But a new generation of cider makers is now taking over, moving away from the cloudy-scrumpy-and-sandals image in favour of a premium product.

Read the full article in the i newspaper here.

Imagine: what’s happening in Liverpool to mark John Lennon’s 80th birthday

This week would have been John Lennon’s 80th birthday. His home city of Liverpool is marking the anniversary with a series of events and exhibitions this week and beyond in memory of its favourite son.

Beatles tourism is hugely important to the city, generating £82m and created nearly 2,500 jobs, according to a 2016 report by the University of Liverpool.

The events starting this week include:
  • Sgt. Pepper Way, a new photographic exhibition of unseen Lennon images at the Beatles Story Museum by the New York-based photographer Bob Deutsch
  • a one-off Magical Mystery walking tour of places associated with the Beatles, starting from the Albert Dock and ending at The Cavern Club for live acoustic music
  • Strawberry Field, the former Salvation Army children’s home where the young Lennon played in the garden while living nearby, will be unveiled as the new home of the famous piano that John Lennon used to compose and record the song Imagine. The piano will be on loan to Strawberry Field courtesy of the estate of the late George Michael.
  • the retrospective of photography by Linda McCartney at the Walker Art Gallery, featuring candid images of the Fab Four, has been extended until January next year
Liverpool was subsequently placed under tier-three restrictions and my follow-up feature was published by Telegraph Travel. Read Postcard from Liverpool: ‘We’re facing a long, dark winter of cancellations ahead’.
Read the latest restrictions in Liverpool here.

Why my op-ed travel feature seemed to touch a nerve with dog owners

It has recorded 191 comments by the time I write this.

Some supportive, some hostile. Many are knee-jerk reactions and include some venting of personal bias.

But I’ve enjoyed reading them all.

After all, it’s great as a writer to have a dialogue with readers — even if they are insulting you.

What did surprise me, however, was one of my regular travel features that has never attracted animated such debate.

I’d clearly touched a nerve.

So it is that my op-ed feature for Telegraph Travel, playing up a pantomime take on the way some dog owners will sneer at young children while letting their pets run amuck, will probably be my most read story of the year.

Here’s a sample:

The thing that grates most of all for me, personally, is not the dogs — many are well behaved and offer valuable companionship — but the vitriol that some dog owners heap upon families who dare to take small children out for lunch.

The hysterical hypocrisy of dog owners can be quite staggering, sneering at kids while taking the high-handed view that waiters and fellow diners should all pander to every whim of their prized, pampered pooch.

Read the full feature here and join the debate. All comments are welcome — no, really.