SOMETIMES it can feel as though Salisbury has had more than its fair share of news this year. If the Skripal Poisoning wasn’t headlines enough, this last week saw a failed attempt to steal the Magna Carta at Salisbury Cathedral.

I would say you couldn’t make it up, but in fact crime writer John Creasey did precisely that: six days earlier, spookily enough, as part of the Literary Festival walk, we read an extract from his novel The Theft of Magna Carta in Salisbury Cathedral.

One person who knows all about the news is broadcaster Jeremy Thompson, who was in town last week to speak at the Salisbury Literary Political Dining Club. Over five decades as a journalist, Thompson has worked for the BBC, ITN and Sky News: his autobiography, Breaking News, is a fascinating look back on his career, and I was lucky enough to catch up with him to discuss it.

Thompson began his career as a local newspaper journalist, before moving on to radio and then television.

His big break came working for Look North, where he reported on the unfolding Yorkshire Ripper case in the late 1970s. From there, he switched to ITN to become first their sports correspondent and then running their Asia bureau. It was here where he had his biggest regret as a journalist: flying out of China on the day of the Tiananmen Square Massacre (after six weeks straight reporting there).

Thompson, however, had a ringside seat at plenty of other key moments in modern history, from Kosovo to Rwanda, both Gulf Wars to Obama’s inauguration. But it is his time in South Africa that he remembers most fondly, from Nelson Mandela’s release through to the end of apartheid and the ANC sweeping to power.

The way the news is reported has been transformed over Thompson’s time: from stuffing a pile of coins into a call box to phone his copy in to broadcasting via an iPhone on the 2015 Paris terror attacks. That shift in technology has led to an increased pace in reporting, but that immediacy can also undermine – there is a pressure to report straightaway, rather than spending the time doing the groundwork first.

Social media, too, presents both advantages and challenges.

Thompson explained the old journalistic adage of needing three sources before running with a piece of information: on social media, unsourced stories can quickly become picked up, leading to pressure on traditional media to report them. It is this dilution, Thompson argues, that has allowed for the phenomenon of fake news to grow. The result, he says, is a fight for the very heart of journalism, and a need for credible and trusted news like never before.