The Editor's Letter: Convening power, imposter syndrome and anti-social media - James Mitchinson
I want to start just by thanking The Yorkshire Post for bringing us together today to have this conversation: you know, we are so lucky to have, here in Yorkshire, such a force for good.
The Yorkshire Post is precious and I sometimes fear we take it for granted.
Martin Jenkins | Strategy Director, Zenith – addressing The Yorkshire Post’s annual Climate Summit
Since being invited to edit The Yorkshire Post in late 2015, the one thing that has always struck me about it has been its ability to bring people together. People who care about the region; about Yorkshire’s communities and about one another. And bring people together for various good causes: this week we have filled the auditorium at the Royal Armouries at The Yorkshire Post’s Climate Summit (please do email me to get involved in next year’s event because if any one of our myriad events really matters, it’s this one!) where business leaders talked about the strides they are making towards carbon neutrality. Experts spoke about what more needs to be done. We heard how Zenith (a vehicle leasing company) had driven down its carbon footprint right across its business, through technology and innovation, to the point where it can see the solution on its horizon. We also heard how Bradford has cleaned up the city’s air, reducing hospital admissions through respiratory illness, improving people’s life chances from the moment they are born. So much energy and passion was in that room and, you know what? The grand old lady - with your support - that is The Yorkshire Post did that.
Then, on Wednesday, I had the genuine honour of being amongst some of the county’s very best businesses as The Yorkshire Post once again used its pulling power to bring together entrepreneurial brilliance at our annual Excellence in Business Awards. I say the county’s very best, but some of the businesses in that conference suite at Headingley Stadium were global leaders in their sector - Yorkshire, quite literally conquering the world! It is difficult to tell you how it makes me feel to be amongst those people (I’ll tell you more about why later on in this newsletter) but it sure does inspire me to hear their stories - some told through tears and cracked voices as their elated emotions came flushing through - of how humble dreams and difficult beginnings turn into incredible life-affirming journeys, be that in making bionic hands that change people’s lives around the world or running a sweet shop that makes people smile. And, do you know what? Yup! The grand old lady - with your support - that is The Yorkshire Post did that.
I did say I would tell you more about the way I feel amongst brilliant people: nervous; a bit vulnerable; a fraud. It wasn’t until someone introduced me to the concept of so-called Imposter Syndrome that I realised why my voice trembled when addressing large groups; why I shake slightly on stage; why I say no to so many TV broadcast opportunities.
Despite trying, I cannot rationalise the reasons why it follows me around, and heaven knows I am far from the worst-affected person by this modest affliction, but it’s there, and it came out to play just last week - for all the right reasons, it has to be said - when I was invited to Halifax’s awe-inspiring Piece Hall to speak to the county’s Lieutenancy by one of the region’s most admired people, the Lord-Lieutenant for West Yorkshire, Ed Anderson.
Even in Ed’s company - and he’ll hate me for saying this - you are aware that this is a chap who has run some of the country’s most complex airports; guided banking institutions - Yorkshire Building Society - through the financial crisis; chaired more boards than I’ve had hot dinners - as we say ‘round here - but in the Lieutenancy he is among scores of quite exceptional people - from paediatric clinicians to modern slavery campaigners; self-made bright-lights of business to tireless charity workers. If you are not familiar with the Lieutenancy, seek it out because I can assure it is an unsung force for good that is passionate about fairness, equal opportunities and authentic representation.
All of that said, as I spoke to the room, I was put at ease by the indefatigable Jon Hammond DL, who walked those attending through my career and my personality, flushing out the things that I care about and asking why it is that, with the help of my incredible team, we have moved The Yorkshire Post away from right versus left, and have chosen now to steer it using the co-ordinates of right versus wrong.
And that is because we, as a team, are united in our steadfast commitment to making all of Yorkshire a better place - and no-one should be left behind!
I couldn’t sleep last night. I’d gone to bed seeing the violence erupt in Dublin following a quite evil knife attack which left several people - including children - seriously wounded. Before I get onto what I think kept me awake, let me be clear: the perpetrator must feel the full force of the law for their unspeakable acts. Full stop.
So, what was it that kept me awake? Well, I had been formulating this newsletter in my head all week. I wanted to showcase some of the good things, today, that The Yorkshire Post does. Because, you know, we’re in a fight in the local press. A fight to survive.
If The Yorkshire Post is to continue bringing people together, for the betterment of the region; if it is to continue celebrating amazing people and all of their achievements; if it is going to give the voiceless a voice then we need your support.
We need thousands more subscribers from the county’s 5.2m people to say - we appreciate what The Yorkshire Post does and what it stands for and I want to be part of it. In fact, I am going to back it. We need businesses to take out corporate subscriptions, a heavily discounted way - email [email protected] - of buying multiple subscriptions to gift to your teams - think of it as an early Christmas present and one that will help your teams to feel part of the county conversation - so that they can turn to trusted, meaningful journalism that tries its utmost to nourish the region.
The truth is, I suppose, what kept me awake was the way a small cabal of right-wing hatemongers was able to publish with impunity - on so-called social media - rabble-rousing dog-whistles steeped in racial prejudice that whipped up a hate-filled mob in no time at all, which then went on the rampage in its own city - something a responsible, community-led and community-minded publication like this one would not dream of doing.
I hated the juxtaposition. I hate that it is growing and local journalism is struggling. I hate that that stuff is called media at all, let alone ‘social’ media and I hate that they are monetising hate whilst the good guys fight for survival.
So. What kept me awake? Well, I want to leave you on a positive note - it’s Friday, afterall, and the sun is shining - so I will say this: what kept me awake was the hope that you will read this and you will back us. For as my old mother and father say to me: you’ll miss us when we’re gone, lad!
They’re right, you know.
Editor | The Yorkshire Post
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