death of a president

History teaches us many things. Not least how we have responded in times of crisis.

by Will Mapplebeck

"The Lincoln continues to slow down. Its interior is a place of horror. The last bullet has torn through John Kennedy's cerebellum, the lower part of his brain. 

" first there is no blood. And then, in the very next instant there is nothing but blood...Gobs of blood as thick as a man's hand are soaking the floor of the back seat..."

I recently read The Death of a President, William Manchester's brilliant unflinching account of the events leading up to and the aftermath of the assassination of John F Kennedy in November 1963.

You can see the Wikipedia entry about the book here.

Everything is in here, from the paintings on the wall of the hotel room where Kennedy spent his last night alive to the layout of the emergency room the president lay in at Parkland Memorial Hospital as doctors tried vainly to save his life. 

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read all about it - a story from before the smartphone

There's a generation of people now who have never bought a newspaper. Ever. And even for those of us who have it's more an occasional, old skool treat for a train trip or a day sat away from screens. So it's good to be reminded of the sway they once had, and, in some areas, still do...

by GUEST EDITOR Will Mapplebeck

My first job in journalism was with the Westmorland Gazette in Kendal in the Lake District.

God, I was bored. I sometimes joke that I was there for almost three years and absolutely nothing happened.

There was one murder.

It was my week off and I missed it.

New Labour was elected, Princess Diana died, the IRA blew up half of Manchester city centre. There was a palpable sense that Britain could be on the cusp of big change.

But not in Kendal or its picturesque patch which still resembled what George Orwell was talking about when he described 'old maids cycling to Holy Communion through the morning mist'.

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speech writing and 'the vision thing'

So, what happens when you need to write a speech? For someone else? And your words can help win the day... or lose it? Here are some tips.

by Will Mapplebeck

It's 1987 and then vice president George H.W Bush is starting to think about the possibility of taking over from Ronald Reagan as the occupant of the White House. 

There's an election to get through, but most analysts agree he's a shoo-in for the big job.

Only one problem, he's not sure what his presidency might look like.

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lessons from 'house of cards'

There's lessons on the re-make of the political thriller House of Cards. Not just that if you live tweet a row with your boss you'll become an online hero.

"Power is a lot like real estate. It's all about location, location, location. The closer you are to the source, the higher your property value." - Frank Underwood.


What's so different about Netflix's House of Cards?


After all, it has everything we'd come to expect from a hit US drama - high production values, a razor sharp script and a Hollywood actor (Kevin Spacey) in the lead role.


But this one is different and it has a relevance for the world many of us work and communicate in every day.


Difference one is how the show has reached our screens. House of Cards, a remake of the BBC original, is made and broadcast by Netflix, a subscription based video-on-demand website.


Netflix is the first content carrier that has gone from simply buying up and broadcasting other people's programmes, to making its own.

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doing a newcastle: on balancing voices

Right across the public sector there are tough budget decisions being made. Some will make more noise than others but how do you give a voice to ordinairy people alongside the voice of a powerful lobby?

by Will Mapplebeck

In November, Newcastle City Council launched a consultation on its 2013-16 budget.

Like other local authorities across England we found ourselves faced with some awful choices to balance the books.

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it’s a great time to do what we do

by Will Mapplebeck

This is a great time to be in communications, a brilliant time to be doing the jobs we do.   

I'll explain why in a minute, but before I go on I don't want to downplay what a tough time many of us have been through.     

In hard times, communications is often the first thing to go, viewed as an expensive luxury next to the real job of providing vital services to vulnerable people. 

That means many of us have seen our jobs under threat, our roles reviewed and our working practices change. Before I did this job at Newcastle, I was on a temporary contract which sometimes rolled over month-by-month, so I know all about uncertainty. 

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