Who better to give lectures to journalism students than Alastair Campbell?

 

Now, if I were the sort of lazy, formulaically minded, indeed "garbagic" journalist that Alastair Campbell so understandably despises, this article would be very easy to compose. It would go something like this:

"Alastair Campbell teaching journalism to students? Oh, that's like putting Dracula in charge of the blood transfusion service. Or making Tony Blair a Middle East peace envoy… The man who gave us the dodgy dossier? Maybe he can tell the students how to make up stuff about chemical weapons… 45 minute warning… sexing up… conspiracies… Dr David Kelly… blood on his hands… Tony Bliar… you couldn't make it up… who does this man think he is… time will tell… I think we should be told…"

Actually, I think Campbell will have some fascinating insights about journalism, which, presumably, is why he has been asked to be a visiting professor at Cambridge University, and why he is in almost constant demand across all media outlets whenever yet another scandal hits my trade. I think he would be able to shed some interesting light on how hacks – and I include editors and the like as well as reporters – can be so pressured into getting stories, so desperate in such a competitive environment, that any moral compunction they may have felt about hacking into somebody else's phone would be abandoned for fear of losing their job.

As Campbell himself has written about mental illness and alcoholism – both more commonplace in journalism than we writers like to imagine – he can talk better than most about how intense the stress can become.

He might also say some interesting things about why journalists can so easily see conspiracies where none exist, suspecting always that governments and companies are so well co-ordinated that apparently disconnected events are in fact some sort of devious "media plan". Was the media's seemingly unrelenting hostility to him just New Labour's turn to experience what every party and government experience – that the media's job is simply to question whoever happens to be in power, an institutionalised, but benign, "bias" against those in charge?

Campbell saw plenty from his vantage point in Downing Street. He lived through the transition from a more orderly media world of established newspapers, a few broadcasters and no web, to the chaotic, unsleeping, ever-hungry and chaotic environment of Twitter, Buzzfeed, rolling news and the most virulent, unregulated, scurrilous, vile, racist and mendacious "blogs" that now proliferate. (Just take a look at some of the "comments" about Chuka Umunna or Diane Abbott on blogsites to see what I mean). In these sorts of conditions, what constitutes journalism, or "spin" for that matter, in any case?

I hope, too, that Campbell will be free and open with his "case studies", elaborating where necessary on what he has so far revealed in his published diaries: about why he invited himself onto Channel 4 News to defend himself over the Gilligan/Kelly affair, when his boss, the Prime Minister, might have preferred he did not do so? About what it was like to become "The Story". And the trivia too; why The Sun got the exclusive story about Cherie Blair's pregnancy, rather than the Mirror.

I didn't turn up to that many lectures when I was at college, but I think Professor Campbell's will be deservedly well-attended.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
Sport
Floyd Mayweather will relinquish his five world titles after beating Manny Pacquiao
boxing
Arts and Entertainment
tvGame of Thrones season 5 ep 4, review - WARNING: contains major spoiliers!
News
Tottenham legend Jimmy Greaves has defended fans use of the word 'Yid'
people
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Life and Style
Google celebrates Bartolomeo Cristofori's 360th birthday
techGoogle Doodle to the rescue
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Ashdown Group: Database Executive - Leading Events Marketing Company - London

£23000 - £25000 per annum + 25 days holidays & pension: Ashdown Group: Databas...

Recruitment Genius: Publishing Assistant

£14000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has arisen for a...

Guru Careers: Graduate Account Executive / Digital Account Executive

£20k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Graduate Digital Account Exec ...

Guru Careers: Print Project Manager

Competitive (DOE): Guru Careers: A Print Project Manager is needed to join one...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living