Twin peaks: David Banks vs #hyperlocal (whatever that is)

I was in Wrexham today, at an event hosted by NUJ Training Wales; Glyndwr University, Wrexham; and the Centre for Community Journalism, Cardiff. It was given fascinatingly by David Banks. And it ran as planned, which was as follows:

This session is aimed at journalists (working for either mainstream or hyperlocal news services) and bloggers. It will look at the latest developments in the law concerning reporting of the courts, examining the particular issues they might have in this area.

Thanks to our partners for this event, the Centre for Community Journalism at Cardiff University and Glyndwr University’s School of Media, Arts and Design we can offer this session free of charge to all journalists, bloggers and contributors to hyperlocal news services attending.

Topics to be covered include:

  • Getting information from the courts – lists, verdicts and other information, either in person, online, or by phone
  • Overview of hyperlocal/blogging the courts – examples of best practice
  • Gaining access to the courts – what facilities are you entitled to?
  • How to handle obstructive courts and court staff
  • Introduction to the law and the courts, including:
  • Contempt of Court – latest development and prosecutions
  • Reporting inquests, update to the law
  • The latest edition of the Judicial Studies Board guidelines – what they say and how they help those who report proceedings
  • Reporting family courts – moves to greater openness
  • Tribunals and inquiries – update on latest developments
  • How to write to a judge, or make a challenge in court

It kinda looks dry, doesn’t it? And mostly, it could’ve been. But in the event, this event was dry in one respect only: David Banks’ broadly chomping wit. I’ve never seen anyone give the PowerPoint version of chalk and talk for just under three hours, and never, but never, lose the attention of the audience.

He doesn’t just know his stuff, he knows how to transmit the information in the most useful bite-sized gobbets of gloriously engaging content you could possibly hope for.

He breaks all the training rules I’ve ever argued existed, even as he’s teaching us precisely not to break the law.

And, for goodness sake, we’re talking about media law; not one PowerPoint but three or four; an audience which preferred more to listen and absorb than ask and intervene; and a fairly dreary early afternoon’s weather which whilst promising more rain, delivered a wonderful coda of thought for everyone who attended the session.

As I walked back to the station, I reflected on the post-session informalities. I managed to expound my fairly primitive – but now developing – theories on my own experiences since January of this year to some local hyperlocal notables who know much more about business, practice and applied theory than I ever will.

However much I develop my stuff.

As I tweeted shortly before getting the train back to Chester:


And that’s a pretty damn good philosophy to live by, I think, in the absence of greater resilience on my part.

It just remains for me to say a huge thanks to NUJ Training Wales, Glyndwr University, @C4CJ; those who attended and who, knowing what they’re doing, generously share it with people like myself; and finally – of course – to David Banks himself: for showing how useful and clever it is to be self-effacingly assertive in a field and practice as pitfalled as court reporting.

As someone observed right at the end: “Now what we need is exactly the same course, but for reporting councils and local authorities …”

WDYT dearest CWaC? Fancy sponsoring a course on local scrutiny for the burgeoning hyperlocal communities in Chester?!


I didn’t think so!


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