Ginny Dougary: tales from the war against fictional journalism
Can we believe anything we read in the press, any more? Have digital platforms and social media de-skilled journalism, degrading the value of media once and for all time?
Come along to DC1 on the evening of Friday 9 February when journalist Ginny Dougary will reveal fact and fiction behind her award-winning career writing headline-grabbing interviews with people like Madonna, Donald Trump and the BBC’s national treasure, Clare Balding.
Remember the #sagasaga and #baldingate row crowding your Twitter feed last September? At the tail end of 2017, Clare Balding, one of the BBC’s national treasures, was in the firing line after a row erupted over an interview she gave to Ginny Dougary for Saga Magazine. Dougary’s copy was filleted and altered after it was submitted and accepted by the magazine’s editor, with sugary phrases lauding Balding and puff copy for her latest children’s book added without Ginny’s knowledge. “If we’re talking about fact or fiction, this was a startling example of it,” said Ginny.
For most journalists, this is enough to make the blood boil and Ginny drew a line in the sand as she stood firm against Saga editor, Katy Bravery. Dougary is one of the great interviewers, adept at sensing tiny cues about celebrities that when published paint an intimate picture of the sort you often don’t get from polished and preened marketing blurbs on book covers and press releases. Another coup from Ginny was her interview with tech publisher and poet Felix Dennis, who confessed to murder in mid-interview.
Interviewers like Dougary, Lynn Barber, Decca Aitkenhead and Simon Hattenstone are regarded by peers as the best in their field. This work succeeds through having the confidence and chutzpah to take on, not just the stars themselves, but also besuited shark shoals of PRs, publishers and minders, all demanding copy approval.
Ginny Dougary is a founding member of Women in Journalism and, in her own words, is ‘still going strong after more than two decades.’ She made her name delivering newsworthy interviews with the great and the good for The Times and is now freelance, writing across the board from The Guardian to the Daily Mail. Outside journalism, she and her partner started the Liberty Choir project – creating choirs in prisons.