Politics students attend talk by journalist John Sweeney

Wednesday, 12 February, students from across all courses of the Media School at BU gathered  to listen to a talk given by the eminent author and journalist, John Sweeney.

Known most famously for his Panorama documentaries including his undercover investigation in North Korea and his investigations into The Church of Scientology, Sweeney has garnered much praise and criticism over his long career from a small time reporter in Sheffield, to one of the most hard-hitting and memorable journalists in recent years.

Sweeney immediately struck a humorous tone with his audience as he started his talk by presenting  the clip of his now legendary screaming match with  the Church of Scientology representative, Tommy Davis (it really is a must watch on Youtube), before going on to deliver an interactive and thought provoking lecture as he spoke candidly about his experiences at the Observer newspaper, covering wars and revolutions throughout the world to his more recent work in North Korea, his time with The Church of Scientology and his most recent work in Russia. He told both amusing and heart-breaking stories about the people that he has met along the way, the horrific abuses of power that he has encountered and made clear his undying passion free speech and its necessity in creating a democratic society.  His advice to budding journalists “Don’t do anything you wouldn’t want to tell your mum about.”

Following his talk, there was a lengthy question and answer session where he was asked about ethical issues, free speech and his latest projects to name but a few. Mr Sweeney stayed after the lecture to sign books and agreed to be interviewed by BU Journalism students.

Mr Sweeney has kindly bestowed two of his books to the BU Library for students to access and enjoy. Oh, and if you’re interested in his future work you may be interested to know that John Sweeney is embarking on his new venture… as a romantic novelist. Who’d have thought it?

Our thanks go out to Mr Sweeney for attending and giving one of the most memorable talks this year.

James Fuller (1st year BA Politics & Media student)

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