Fergus Walsh

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Fergus Walsh
Born Fergus Walsh
1961
Leicester, Leicestershire, England
Occupation Journalist

Fergus Walsh (born 1961 in Leicester, Leicestershire[1]) has been the BBC's medical correspondent since 2006. He has won several awards for medical journalism, and has been commended for his work in making important health topics more understandable to the public.

Family background[edit]

Walsh was brought up in Buckinghamshire by his Irish parents, who emigrated in the 1950s. His father, Michael,[2] and mother, Ita, are deceased.

Education[edit]

He attended the Royal Grammar School in High Wycombe, and obtained an English literature degree from the Leeds University in 1983. Walsh completed a post-graduate course in Broadcast Journalism at University College Falmouth, in Cornwall.[3] He has said that until beginning the course he had 'no burning ambition' to become a journalist, but that afterwards he 'Couldn't wait to be a reporter'.

Career[edit]

Walsh worked as a freelance journalist during the 1980s, in Oxford, Nottingham, Norfolk and Bristol and (for one day) Derby. His first BBC post, from 1984, was as a radio reporter on home and legal affairs. He has said that what attracted him to the role was 'the immediacy of radio…discovering and reporting on events as they happen'. His first national report was for Radio 4 News, covering a mass trespass by members of CND.[4] In 1990, he moved to television and worked briefly as political, diplomatic and education correspondent.

Current role[edit]

Walsh has been the BBC's medical Correspondent since 2006. He appears mainly on the BBC's 6.00pm and 10.00pm News and across the News Channel. He can also be heard on BBC Radio 4's Today programme and BBC Radio 5 Live.

Non-presenting work[edit]

In June 2007, he was one of a number of medical journalists who gave evidence to Parliamentas part of the scrutiny of the Human Tissue and Embryos Bill. Much of his evidence related to the degree of public acceptance of activities such as gender-selection of children, and gene therapy.[5] In 2009, he started a blog called Fergus on Flu, which examined the H1N1 swine flu pandemic. Also in 2009, Walsh appeared as himself, in 'A Short Stay in Switzerland', a 90-minute BBC TV dramatisation of the events leading up to the death by assisted suicide of Dr Anne Turner.

From June 2010 until May 2011 his blog was known as ‘Fergus's Medical Files’,[6] before its current incarnation, which states that it has a particular focus on research and ethical issues.[7]

In late 2010, he presented an appeal on behalf of LEPRA, a charity which seeks to prevent and treat Lymphatic Filariasis.[8]

Journalistic philosophy[edit]

When describing how he approached stories on sometimes sensitive topics, Walsh argued that 'To avoid scaring people, the script is crucial – it has to be balanced. I want to look back, six months from now, and not cringe at our stories'. He has also said that in general, 'You have to keep a certain emotional distance from the events in front of you; otherwise it would be impossible to report objectively. You can care deeply about whom or what you are covering, but you must not let your feelings cloud your judgement or prevent you from being an independent observer. On controversial topics, you have to play devil's advocate and ask people direct and often difficult questions'.[9]

Awards[edit]

He has won five broadcasting awards from the Medical Journalists' Association.[4] In December 2009, he received an honorary degree, a Doctorate of Civil Law (DCL) from Newcastle University. His citation stated that Walsh 'has done more than any other journalist to facilitate public comprehension of the most challenging health issues of our times.'[4]

Personal life[edit]

Walsh has a son and two daughters. His wife, a former GP, works in the pharmaceutical industry.[4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ The Donor, News and information for blood donors, Cover story about Fergus Walsh, Summer 2011, page 4
  2. ^ Daniel Martin (15 May 2010). "Father of BBC health correspondent died after fall from balcony in hospital accused of neglect". Daily Mail online. Retrieved 3 May 2011. 
  3. ^ "Multimedia Broadcast Journalism MA". University College Falmouth. Retrieved 3 May 2011. 
  4. ^ a b c d "Honorary Degree Citation for Fergus Walsh" (PDF). University College Falmouth. Retrieved 1 May 2011. 
  5. ^ Joint Committee on the Human Tissue and Embryos (Draft) Bill, Session 2006–2007, Evidence, retrieved 1 May 11 [1]
  6. ^ "Ferguss Medical Files". BBC. 12 May 2011. Retrieved 15 April 2015. 
  7. ^ Fergus Walsh. "Fergus Walsh, medical correspondent". BBC. Retrieved 15 April 2015. 
  8. ^ Fergus Walsh. "Fergus Walsh tells us why he supports lepra in their fight against lf". LEPRA. Retrieved 1 May 2011. 
  9. ^ Fergus Walsh (25 January 2009). "How Julie brought back memories of a brave woman whose story I told". The Observer. Retrieved 1 May 2011. 

External links[edit]