Last month the Journalism Society was delighted to welcome Jon Sopel, BBC North America Editor, who spoke to an audience of Eton and partner school pupils about his life in broadcasting and his coverage of Trump’s time in power.
Mr Sopel hosts the BBC podcast Americast alongside Emily Maitlis and Anthony Zurcher. Whilst the programme initially focused on the 2020 United States presidential election, it has continued to explore the period of transition, the second impeachment trial, and the state of US politics today. His latest book, UnPresidented, is a memoir of ‘politics, pandemics and the race that Trumped all’.
The audience was invited to submit questions in advance, and it was clear many were fascinated to hear Mr Sopel’s experience of American politics during the during COVID-19 pandemic, and the radical changes proposed by the Biden administration. He explained the new focus on consistent and widespread testing having experienced it himself, ‘I’ve been tested three times this week…and I’ll get COVID tested three more times next week!’
There was also an interest in hearing about challenges the BBC are current facing, particularly a world where traditional news sources are competing with social media and there is an ever-present challenge of appealing to a younger audience. Mr Sopel’s inside track on developments in US politics, enabled by his access to the White House through the press pass which he ‘guards more than anything else’, is surely helping to fulfil the demand of news about America!