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12 October 2010

Marianne Clough - Journalist

Marianne Clough - Journalist

Marianne Clough is a journalist who trained and reported on local papers. She gained the title Yorkshire News Reporter of the Year while at the Telegraph and Argus in Bradford (with a series on forced marriages). She then took a break while her sons were small and gained a new understanding of God’s great love and his purposes for her, namely, to tell Good News.

Now, supported by radio specialists HCJB Global she runs the Bradford Media Hub, helping the church make the most of the media and the media better understand the church. Marianne is also National PR Manager for growing UK-wide debt counselling charity Christians Against Poverty.

As a child what did you want to be when you grew up?

I fancied being a spy, used to climb the apple tree at the end of the garden and peer at the neighbours with a pair of binoculars. Sorry, Mrs Sheppeck.

However my childhood heroines Lois Lane in the Superman movies and real-life BBC war reporter Kate Adie, inspired me to take up journalism, I gradually found a better path.

How did you get involved in media?

From 13 years, I wrote for school newspapers, worked on hospital radio and did work experience on a number of local papers. I was eventually hired by the Bucks Free Press in High Wycombe where I completed my training.

What is the best and worst thing of being a journalist?

Best thing: That's easy: people - as we do stranger, funnier and more wonderful things than fiction could ever tell.
Worst thing: The fear of missing something. Thankfully, though, God never misses a trick.

Tell us one of your favourite stories you have covered.

Too many bizarre and fantastic past instances to recount here. But one of my favourites was the opening of a gospel church in Bradford. The pastor - an awesome lady - was outside with her choir praising at full volume as I drew up in the car. So I asked her something daft like "What's it like then, to see this church finally open after all your years of fundraising?" and I got "PPPPPRRRRRAISSSSE THE LORRRRRRD" which was echoed by the ecstatic choir. So I scribbled that down and tried again: "What does it mean to you to see this special day?" and I got the same answer. In the end that was the quote that went in and it was pulled out for the headline too, so it all worked out. An experience I won't forget.

What has been the Journalistic highlight of the year so far?

The research and writing of a feature about Smith Wigglesworth, the "people's pastor" from Bradford. He was an illiterate plumber who saw a number of miracles take place because he believed God would do it. I found him hugely inspiring.

What would you say to anyone wanting to start a career in journalism?

Watch your ego, take correction well, be strong in who God created you to be and listen hard. After that, it's seeing opportunities and grabbing them with all you've got.

What text or biblical story inspires you in your work?

Isaiah 61 has been instrumental in showing me that none of what I am doing now is by chance; it was for his purposes. He will accomplish great things through me, however unlikely that seems at times, because of his Spirit.

Psalm 4: 6-7 is very relevant too. The psalmist asks "Who can show us any good?". I'm sure this is a cry from the heart of a lot of people who are desperate to hear there is hope. As His people we need to continually find inventive and socially acceptable ways to present an unchanging truth.

Martin Luther King Jr had a dream for society. What is yours?

That the church will see the media as part of their evangelism and understand that journalists are among the neighbours Christ tells us to love.

What would you do with a million quid?

Give it away quick before it ruled me and wrecked me.

What's the worst rejection you've ever had?

Like most journalists I've been sworn at a number of times but I see every 'no comment' as a postponed "yes".

How can journalism increase wellbeing in society over the next decade?

Regional newspapers are still very much the lifeblood of our local communities. Many radio stations and national papers cherry pick stories from the locals.

This often means that the closest contact to the reader is the local reporter themselves. My vision is for Christians to take a much more proactive role in participating and contributing to local reportage.

Tell us a joke

A bloke with hearing problems goes to the doctor who shouts to him "CAN YOU DESCRIBE THE SYMPTOMS?"
The bloke says, "Yeah, Homer is the fat yellow bloke and Marge has tall blue hair."