Comment: Great journalism can change the world for the better

Award-winning journalist Nicola Barry who has died after a long illness in Edinburgh
Award-winning journalist Nicola Barry who has died after a long illness in Edinburgh
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the best journalists can change the world.

We’re not talking necessarily about Watergate here, or MPs getting their moats cleaned out on expenses, or the phone hacking scandal - all of which were uncovered by hacks.

The changes which they can bring about are often much more modest in scale and ambition, but we should never underestmiate the impact that their work can have - both for better and for worse - on the lives of those they touch.

Often the power comes from the simple telling of a story - the impact coming from telling it in a uniquely vivid and engaging way. That story might be desperately sad, or uplifting, or both at the same time. That was certainly the case in former Evening News journalist Nicola Barry’s writing about her mum’s alcoholism and the terrible toll which it took on her own life.

What shone through was her love and empathy. No one will ever know how many people were inspired to make a change in their own life after reading some of Nicola’s brilliant prose, but it was impossible to read her brutally honest, forgiving account without coming away with a much deeper understanding of alcoholism and how it works.

There are many other examples of how exceptional journalism can motivate and inspire both from within the pages of this newspaper and website and others across Scotland and further afield.

It has been our privilege in recent months to tell the stories of some of the remarkable people who have passed through Maggie’s Centre at the Western General. We are enormously grateful for the way many of you have responded to these by making donations to the centre’s Build A Brick appeal.

If a journalists job is to recount stories, then the best do that in a way holds up a mirror to it readers and helps them recognise something that did not see before.