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Breaking news: How the AJ reports on architecture

The AJ’s not listening to your voicemail: we get our stories directly from you, says Christine Murray

In the wake of the News of the World phone-hacking scandal, more than a few disparaging comments have been made to me about journalists. Like the fall-out from Michael Gove’s architect smear campaign, the Murdoch debacle has similarly painted our profession with a tainted brush.

In response, I would like to assure readers that our news headlines are not the result of subterfuge, hacking, spying, baiting or switching. Indeed, the old-fashioned art of journalism practised at the AJ is hardly headline news: it relies on industry relationships built on trust, established over time.

News editor Richard Waite, reporter Merlin Fulcher and the rest of the AJ team have contacts among clients, government, planners, RIBA insiders, consultants, project managers, think tanks, PRs and architects. We regularly chat with practices about their current workload and projects in the pipeline when visiting their buildings, judging awards such as the BCIA, or at cultural events. The news desk keeps a continuous eye on major schemes such as the Olympic Park, reporting on developments. Waite is also based up north for half the week, which keeps him in touch with the world outside London.

Architects, clients or PRs will often get in touch regarding competition wins, projects that have won planning, or newly completed buildings. Stories about lost projects, redundancies, in-fighting or bankruptcies are more sensitive. Typically, an architect or other insider will drop us a line, sometimes anonymously. We always seek confirmation from multiple sources before going to print, and contact the practice in question to provide them with the right to reply.

For every story in the magazine or posted online, there are hundreds that don’t stack up, or that we choose not to print because they contain no value beyond sensationalism. We have a duty as a journal of record to report on shifts and changes in the profession. We try to ensure all our coverage offers real value, from who’s-doing-what, to policy changes, to the state of the market.

If you have any questions about our news coverage, please write in.

3DReid student prize

For the first time in its six-year history, the shortlisted students for the 3DReid student prize, run in association with the AJ, were asked to make live presentations of their projects to the judges, me included. We expected the students to be nervous, but instead found them accomplished presenters, engagingly summing up their projects and expertly fielding questions.

Before you think it, the best presenter on the day didn’t win, but the team with the most developed idea (Liverpool University’s David Devereau and Elifira The). In fact, the presentations made it easier to distinguish the best project from those with more seductive visualisations. And the students benefited from feedback by the judges and networking after the event (one even brought their CV). The President’s Medals should take note: instead of squinting at student graphics in a darkened Portland Place room, they should let the students speak.

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