And now for something completely different...
Cutting loose and (with much ignorance) heading for a new life off the grid in Portugal
I just wanted to share with everyone that I’ve left the BBC, and that my new life with my wonderful wife Ana will be based in Portugal. It’s 24 years since I joined the BBC in Newcastle. It's an institution that I’m hugely proud to have worked for and that has given me such adventure and excitement, taught me so much, and given me the chance to tell stories from all corners of the world.
After a year at the amazing John S Knight (JSK) Fellowship at Stanford I am looking forward to taking on new challenges, and far from leaving journalism behind I hope to continue telling stories in challenging and adventurous ways. I will continue to explore Augmented Reality and VR, help a new generation of journalists to develop, and do my bit to try and tackle what is one of the biggest threats in our era: the “infodemic” of mis- and dis-information. Unsourced stories on our social feeds is muddling minds and giving space for populist leaders to bend the truth. I’d like to help people spot fake from fact, so that for every piece of information we share, we all ask: “is this true?” and “what’s the source?” before hitting send.
I want to continue to fight for fair, balanced and accurate public service journalism. I want to help people understand that labelling highly respected media as “fake news” is a deliberate and cynical attempt to undermine one of the great pillars of democracy and we must beware.
While I work out how to do all that, Ana and I have our hands full in a beautiful part of south-western Portugal. We bought a little off the grid farm we’re calling Vale das Estrelas (Valley of the Stars) and we hope to develop an eco-tourist lodge to help our friends and friends of friends around the world discover rural Alentejo – its history, its beauty, its magnificent Atlantic coastline…and its wines. After decades on the road it’s time for us to build a home and a life that isn’t packed up into a container every few years, but yet one that still allows us to meet interesting people from all over the world.
This is a quite a life change for us, we are taking a big leap of faith and we are working really hard to succeed…the first hurdle is getting the funding and then it gets even crazier…but the best stories are always the ones where you don’t know how it’s going to turn out!
So, we need your help to make this work: your advice, words of wisdom, experience, skills, and most of all your encouragement for this exciting next chapter. Please follow my blogposts here
Our Facebook page is Vale das Estrelas - lovely stay in wild and beautiful Alentejo Check us out on Instagram @vale_das_estrelas
And let us know if you’d like to be involved as we build a website, write the occasional newsletter or blogpost, and maybe even make this mad journey all into a podcast.