Insight

Reporters must be nimble, fast, and above all balanced... but that last one's a real problem for me

UTV's Mark McFadden.
UTV correspondent Mark McFadden tries to find the balance in life

Journalists always watch their step. One wrong move can lead to trouble, and in this era of instant news and social media it can lead to instant embarrassment. I’ve had more than 50 years of trying to inject some balance into my life. So far, I’ve failed miserably. I’m an adult, a married man, the father of three grown-up kids. But to my eternal shame I cannot ride a bike. As a child I couldn’t even stay on a trike.

People often describe some mundane skill and say, “Of course you can remember how to do it. It’s like riding a bicycle.”

Every time I hear that remark I die a little inside. My wife says I'm naturally gifted - but only when it comes to clumsiness. Yes, it’s true that I broke my leg just days before flying off on holiday (she had to carry the luggage and I came home sun-tanned apart from one plaster-cast leg). It’s also true that I set myself on fire in a church. I was blissfully unaware that I was too close to some candles until a man started beating out the flames on my back. And yes, I once stumbled against the big red ‘Stop’ button beside a department store escalator. I beat a hasty red-faced retreat as shoppers came hurtling down towards me.

I even fell down the same spiral staircase twice in one day. I can't walk in a straight line. And the chances of joining the circus as a tightrope walker are less than zero. So, if you feel my journalism sometimes strays a little off-line, if you consider my reports a tad unbalanced, then have a little compassion. Being perfectly balanced isn’t as easy as it looks.


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