Monday, 31 October 2016


There is an old adage in television. NEVER work with children or animals. However,  an incident this week proved that sometimes you can work with them. It also proved something I've always believed: Compassion in journalism is not a crime.

It all started on Friday night, when a herring gull appeared on the steps of 200 Grays Inn Road. Like the gull, I've sat there many times. A lot of people would have probably just walked right past, letting the bird do it's own thing, Or more selfish people may have said that seagulls, pigeons etc are vermin and not even cared.

But one person did care.  Alastair Stewart. As most Twitter users will know, he is no stranger to animals, he grew up with horses and encouraged his family to love them too. He has horses, donkeys, a dog, cats, chickens. he near enough owns a zoo! So even though what happened is not surprising, it still deserves praise.

This particular night, he left ITN, assuming he was just going to have a quick cigarette break and then get back to work. Something he has probably done a thousand times, without a second thought other than possibly "I really should give up smoking".

However, this time was completely different. There on the steps was the gull, sat completely still, very quiet and not exactly looking happy.  Some of Alastair's colleagues were also worried.

They took the trouble to be concerned for the bird, call the RSPCA, and finally get the bird to a place where it could be properly looked after.

As an animal lover myself, I have nothing but praise for Alastair and his colleagues. Alastair's attitude towards another living creature was exemplary and it says a lot about the kind of person he is. Any animal that in future ends up living with the Stewarts' couldn't have better owners. I don't know what happened to the gull, but I do know that - thanks to Alastair - it is a little happier at least.

And that's the amazing thing. In journalism you can be confronted by the most dangerous situations or the most beautiful things, and you never know what is around the corner. Journalism isn't always about bad news, sometimes events can have a good ending as this one did.

Martyn Lewis - a veritable advocate of good news - would be very pleased!