Man catches politician in Web job

May 2, 1997

"Prime minister, aren't you, rather than Labour, the party divided on Europe?" At John Major's morning election press conference last Tuesday the media were joined by Gareth Pickering, a London Guildhall University student.

Mr Pickering, a third-year politics and history student, is one of a group of LGU students helping London News Radio with its interactive election news website.

Getting to ask the premier a direct question, and in return getting an answer he admired for its adeptness, certainly was the highlight for Mr Pickering of three weeks of steady attendance at the party press conferences: "My job has been to go to all three press conferences, then write them up for the website."

With a dissertation on European Monetary Union to complete plus three exams next term, he might have spent election time in the library.

But with the security of knowing that he is already guaranteed a good degree under LGU's credit-based system, he opted for intensive practical revision. "It has been very good for my knowledge of contemporary politics. To do the press conferences effectively I have to be on top of what is going on."

It has also given him the chance to ask broadcasters like the BBC's Robin Oakley and John Serjeant their view of current issues as well as providing experience and contacts he hopes will help towards a career in political journalism.

Since working on the website he has become a fan of the Net: "It has to be the media of the future. It gives people the chance to answer back."

Justin Fisher, an LGU lecturer who organised the attachments through LNR's James Williams, said: "It gives students practical exposure to politics. They are shown how the detail of an issue can matter, and how quickly things can happen in an election campaign. And they are also getting experience of the news media."

LNR interactive website is at: www.newsdirect973 fm.co.uk

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