PREVIEW: Opportunity knocks for Peter Sissons

For Peter Sissons, reporter and anchor for the BBC, ITV and Channel 4, it’s always been about taking the opportunity.

Hence the title of his memoirs, When One Door Closes.

His point is that it’s what you do next that counts.

“Writing the memoirs was good fun,” Peter says.

“I enjoyed doing it even if it was a bit spasmodic, writing furiously and then putting it aside for a while, but it got done!

“I didn’t have a diary except that I had kept my engagement diaries.

“It’s amazing how memory deceives you.

“You would swear that things happened in a certain order, and then you Google it and you realise that they didn’t.

“Memory can be quite flawed.

“I find that memory can also be quite selective.

“I look at recordings of myself doing stuff in the past, and I think ‘When or where on earth did I do that!’

“But my career had a particular path which is what I write about in the book.

“It was a series of opportunities that I grabbed as one door closes, occasionally very painfully.

“But I was fortunate in the sense that I never saw it as a setback.”

Pressure

“The principles don’t change, but the pressure that the modern journalists are under can give very little time for reflection, very little time for fact-checking.

“The speed of communication, virtually 24 hours a day, means that you just have to bang the stuff out.

“And the fact is that a lot of them are working without the sort of back-up in the office that used to exist.

“But there are some terrific reporters around still.

“The BBC’s reputation is really worldwide depending on a tremendous inner corps of world-class correspondents who are still at the top of their game.

“People have so many more sources of news available to them now, through the electronic media. And I think we just also live in a much more complex age.”

Which is where Peter sees the role of newspapers holding strong.

“It is all so complex that people are going to want other sources to get the details,” he said.

Newspapers can’t possibly compete with TV in terms of speed, Peter believes. But the great hope for newspapers is in the detail.

Peter Sissons in conversation with John Coldstream, St John’s Chapel, Chichester, Sunday, July 8, 6pm.