WITH a name like The Ferret it’s no surprise that a new take on investigative journalism is already getting up the trouser legs of the establishment.

Launched just last year as an online outlet for investigations, The Ferret has published a range of ground-breaking stories that have since been taken up by the mainstream media. It has also been shortlisted for a British Journalism award.

As a non-profit co-operative focused on public interest stories and innovative story-telling, The Ferret is blazing a trail for a new kind of independent media in Scotland.

Now it is collaborating with Strathclyde University to stage its first ever conference.

Billed as an essential event for anyone who wants to find out more about how good public interest stories are made, how power can be held to account and what can be done to build a better media in the future, the conference is to be held on April 23 at Strathclyde University.

Some of the most respected names in journalism have been booked as guest speakers but there as there are a limited number of spaces it is best to book soon to be guaranteed a place.


SPEAKERS include Nicole Kleeman, creative director of Firecrest Films, a Glasgow-based production company which has made more than 30 films for broadcast across the UK and beyond, covering everything from nuclear safety to important consumer issues. Firecrest’s output includes high-profile films for BBC Panorama and Channel 4 Dispatches.

Award-winning freelance journalist Rob Edwards, who specialises in environmental issues, will also speak at the conference. Edwards, who has more than 30 years experience in journalism, is chairman of The Ferret, environment editor of the Sunday Herald, a correspondent for The Guardian and has co-authored three books about nuclear power and has produced radio and television programmes.

He likes muckraking and will explain how he does it, with a focus on using Freedom of Information legislation to unearth exclusives.


THE Big Debate of the conference will be on press regulation and press freedom.

It will be chaired by Dr Sallyanne Duncan, director of Strathclyde University’s MLitt Digital Journalism degree and researcher on the topics of ethical reporting and media representation of trauma, mental health, bereavement and suicide.

Jonathan Heawood, chief executive officer of Impress, is a speaker at the debate. Impress is a new independent press regulator that aims to become the first body to gain formal recognition from the Press Recognition Panel. In his first foray north of the border, Heawood will outline the difference the new regulator plans to make on the media landscape.

The Ferret is considering adopting Impress as its independent regulator and this event will be a chance for members and non-members to explore what this might mean.

In addition Nik Williams, of Scottish Pen, will be outlining its new campaign to reform defamation law in Scotland in its role as a defender of freedom of expression and freedom of the press. The Ferret is a media partner of the campaign.

The debate will also include journalist and editor Kevin McKenna, who currently writes for the National, the Guardian, the Observer and the Herald as well as running PR business The Word Agency.

Further speakers are to be confirmed for this debate and will be added shortly. There will be plenty of time for delegates to put questions to the speakers and debate the issues raised.


IN addition there will be a screening of Transit Zone, a 32-minute documentary on life in the Calais refugee camps. Award-winning documentary filmmaker Frederik Subei spent three months in the camp at Calais to get to know the residents and their everyday lives. The screening will be followed by a panel discussion about the film and how to affect change for social justice through the media, chaired by Ferret director Peter Geoghegan.

Policy and communications expert Lisa Mackenzie will also be present. She is policy and public affairs advisor to the Howard League for Penal Reform in Scotland and has worked for the UK Commission for Racial Equality, the Scottish Parliament and Scotland’s Futures Forum. She is a reader director of The Ferret.

Writer and performer Siana Bangura is another guest panellist. She is currently co-producing a crowdfunded documentary, 1500 and Counting, about deaths in police custody – inspired by the recent death of Sheku Bayoh in Fife. She is a writer, activist and performer, and has worked with numerous broadcast, print and online outlets, from the Guardian to Buzzfeed and Metro.

As part of the ticket price, people attending the conference will receive a free discount code giving three months’ free subscription to The Ferret. Profits made from ticket sales will be put towards a ‘mini’ Ferret investigation – and the audience will have the chance to vote on what it should be. The conference will be held on April 23 from 10am to 4.30pm at the Confucius Room in the Lord Hope Building at the University of Strathclyde.

For more information go to http://bit.ly/TheFerretSpringConference