Meet the Mediators
In the lead up to Above The Noise, Journalist Si Cunningham interviewed high-profile figures who’ve been at the heart of the city’s most infamous stories. In the interviews, Bradfordians from the worlds of politics, religion, policing and journalism discuss their relationships with the national media, and how they’ve often found themselves acting as the city’s “mediators” during difficult times.
The political leader: Baroness Margaret Eaton
Baroness Eaton was the Leader of Bradford Council between 2000 and 2006. As the city’s political leader at the time of the 2001 disturbances, Baroness Eaton found herself thrust into the international spotlight when the world’s media turned its attention to Bradford. In her interview for Above The Noise, Baroness Eaton talks about efforts to promote Bradford’s image in spite of negative press attention.
“The view of Bradford from those who do not know it first hand is coloured by a range of clichés and negative media stereotypes, many of which are anachronistic and often caricatured…”
The community activist: Paul Meszaros
Community leader Paul Meszaros is a Bradford-based regional organiser for Hope Not Hate and completed a forensic analysis of national far-right activity in the aftermath of the 2001 disturbances. In his interview, Paul talks about the potential harm that “pigeonholing” different sections of the community can do, and he urges the national media to use restraint when reporting on often complex and deeply nuanced matters.
“I think there are a lot of lazy assumptions made by some of the national media. They think, ‘We’re doing a story about race, so we’ll just go to Bradford…'”
Retired Inspector Martin Baines has been at the forefront of community policing since his days as a Manningham beat bobby in the 1980s. Martin was appointed as Bradford’s first race relations officer from 1996 and was often the first point of contact for national media looking to produce stories about the city’s social challenges. In Martin’s interview, he talks about his pioneering proactive work with Bradford’s local South Asian publications and media outlets.
“I had national media calling me on a weekly basis saying they wanted to do a new story about Bradford, but they were never interested in any of the positive work we were doing.”
The local journalist: Richard Horsman
As the former news editor of Bradford’s main radio station (then Pennine Radio, now Pulse 1), Richard Horsman was often the first on scene during several high-profile incidents in the city from the 1990s onwards. Richard talks about the national media’s obsession with Bradford, and how many local journalists have a much deeper sense of responsibility for the communities they serve.
“I recall a film crew from one national broadcaster calling me up once to ask where they could find some urban dereliction in Bradford. They’d been driving around for some time and couldn’t find anything.”
The religious leader: Ishtiaq Ahmed
Ishtiaq Ahmed is a well-respected leader in Bradford who pioneered community development work for the local authority in the 1980s and became a key figurehead for the Bradford Council for Mosques. Ishtiaq describes his experiences at the heart of some of Bradford’s most iconic community-led campaigns and talks about the role of peaceful civic activism and its portrayal in the media.
“In Bradford we are like a family… we quarrel, we have differences… but when a family is threatened from the outside, that’s when it comes together, and that’s the spirit of Bradford.”