Published on February 28, 2013 | by Harriet Sokmensuer0
Sky’s the limit for LCC graduate Martin BruntIn a journalism career spanning more than 30 years, Martin Brunt has covered some of the most groundbreaking stories to occur at home and abroad.
These included being the first to report that the 7/7 bombings had been confirmed as a terrorist attack and the death of the Queen Mother.
ALN met the Sky News chief crime reporter outside his second home, the Old Bailey.
With only 20 minutes to spare, he did his best to cover more than 20 years in the industry.
Starting out his career where every journalist once dreamed to be; Fleet Street, Brunt left all of that in 1989 for the unheard of 24-hour rolling TV news station Sky.
Joining the revolution
Today, 56 year old Brunt can’t remember why he gave all of that up; four days in the office, company car, eight weeks off – but it must have been something good.
Perhaps it was the revolutionary approach to the news – at the time, 24-hour news did not exist in the UK – but whatever it was, Brunt took the job and joined the revolution.
“I was able to make all my mistakes while nobody was watching. I was pretty awful to begin with.” Martin Brunt
His first job after graduating from LCC with a degree in Periodical Journalism was an editorial position at the magazine Power Laundry and Cleaning News.
“I learned all about the wonderful world of dry cleaning and laundry machines, it was as fascinating as it sounds,” he jokes. “But it was a job.” When a new position opened up at another magazine in the same building Brunt went for it.
From there he worked his way up, all the way to Fleet Street as chief reporter of The Sunday Mirror.
But when he was asked to join Sky News he took a leap of faith and went live. Today Brunt seems to warm to the camera but it wasn’t always that way for the low-key crime reporter.
The new 24-hour news cycle
When he first went on camera he had little to no practice and neither did anybody else.
Luckily for him, since 24-hour rolling news was unheard of, no one was really paying attention.
“I was able to make all my mistakes – and there were lots of them – while nobody was watching. I was pretty awful to begin with,” Brunt jokes.
Looking back at Sky in the beginning Brunt describes it as chaotic and revolutionary. “We were the new kids on the block,” he says.
But now he and the rest of his colleagues are fighting for their jobs against newcomers who are tech-savvy with thumbs at the ready.
“I enjoy the most instant news breaking. I get a story, jump in front of my camera and within a few seconds I am delivering it in front of thousands of people live. That’s the most thrilling thing. And that’s something Sky pioneered.”
When Brunt began working, newspapers were using typewriters chained to the desk with carbon sheets to make multiple copies.
It wasn’t until he was on Fleet Street that Brunt noticed the introduction of computers to the press. Brunt has also seen the change in London from the mid ’70s to today.
When he moved to the city to study at university he lived in student halls in Battersea and says that London was extraordinary; coming out of the ’60s, London was a hub for musicians, artists and fashion lovers.
“It was a huge and exciting creative environment that opened my eyes having come from a very rural background,” says Brunt.
“I get a story, jump in front of my camera and within a few seconds I am delivering it in front of thousands of people live.” Martin Brunt
One thing that was lost when technology stepped in is one of Brunt’s most treasured skill; shorthand.
Used by secretaries and reporters before voice recorders were invented in the 1980s, shorthand is a writing method that uses symbolic characters.
Even with the invention of the dictaphone, Brunt relies on his shorthand while in court. This ability to embrace the new wave of technology while maintaining original journalistic skills is what keeps Brunt on top.
Along with the other famous stories he has broken while working for Sky, Brunt also covered the Kuwait War and has travelled around the world for his job.
However none of this fazes Brunt; even when he won Broadcast Journalist of the Year 2008, Brunt was humble: He said he never worried about awards until he won one and was “left quite chuffed”.
As for advice to aspiring journalism students: “Don’t do a journalism course.”
Brunt explains his downright blunt statement, “I think the thousands of kids who were encouraged to do journalism courses in the last 20 years were wrongly encouraged because there are so few jobs in our business.”
After explaining the overflow of applications Sky receives for jobs Brunt goes back to giving advice. “You have to eat dirt because one day it will pay off. Just be realistic,” he finishes.
London College of Communication
While Brunt has broken top news stories and won notable awards, he doesn’t like to define himself as just a journalist. This approach is something he believes he learned from his lectures at LCC, then known as London College of Printing.
“We had some inspiring lecturers who were very funny. One of them was a folk singer and the other was very inspiring, he wrote about beer.” Brunt says. “They weren’t just dull journalists, they had other lives.”
In his free time Brunt is a guitar aficionado, having played for nearly four decades, and while most of his time has been focused on his career he hopes to one day master it.
Brunt is also an avid crime novel reader and highly recommends his personal favourite Elmore Leanord.
“Who doesn’t want to listen to stories of bodies being chopped up?” Martin Brunt
His interest in crime novels partially credits his title as Sky News chief crime reporter although in truth it is a much simpler explanation. “I did the first Gulf War and then the Bosnian War, I didn’t want to do that anymore [risking his life] it’s stupid.”
The crime reporter at the time was leaving and Brunt was looking for a UK-based job with a bit of travelling so decided to narrow his focus to crime. That is when he realised the key to being a successful journalist, to specialise.
And just when you think Brunt has made his career crime because of a free opportunity he slips in, “Besides, who doesn’t want to listen to stories of bodies being chopped up?”
As for future plans, Brunt reveals he hopes to travel with his family. Brunt tells the ALN photographer, who’s from Chicago: “That is my next holiday destination.”
“Make sure to steer clear of South Chicago,” warns the photographer.
“I’ve actually been told that’s where I belong.” Brunt jokes as he heads back into the Old Bailey to pick up another story.