RSS FeedFacebookSearch
Gary Younge

Guardian staff hit the phones.
Photograph: Sophia Evans for the Guardian
'Oh, hello: I was hoping you'd be Owen Jones'

As seasonal rituals go, the annual Guardian Christmas charity telethon is rapidly becoming one of my favourites. Journalists staff the phones, surrounded by mince pies, mulled wine and nibbles, and readers call in with their contributions.

To your left is Simon Jenkins asking: “Is that Visa or Mastercard?” To your right is Polly Toynbee inquiring: “Could I have your postcode?”. And throughout the day, the journalists-cum-telephonists veer off script, with very English gems like: “What’s the weather like up there?” “Any nice plans for the weekend?” and “Got all your shopping done?”

Having been in America for 12 years, I have only done the telethon twice. And while being in the office on a Saturday is generally not my idea of fun, my experience last weekend proved the appeal is definitely an exception.

First of all there’s the generosity. In 2015, the Guardian asked readers to donate to refugees, and raised a record-breaking £2.5m. This year, with our appeal for child refugees, we look set to beat that total. To hear from hundreds of readers who want to give what they can is not just heartwarming; it makes you proud to think you’re part of a community that cares about the things you think are important.

One caller asked how little he could contribute.

“I think it goes down to a pound,” I told him.

“Well I’ve got £1.34 in my account,” he said. “I’m unemployed and I don’t have much so I’d like to donate £1.33.”

“Are you sure?” I asked. “Sounds like you could use it.”

“No, it’s OK,” he said. “I’ve got my baccy and my beer and I live with my parents. I’m just sorry I can’t give more.”

Second, there’s the contact. As journalists, we don’t really have much contact with our readers. Indeed, beyond providing an alternative funding model for our journalism, membership is about deepening that relationship. The telethon provides an intensive, immersive experience of engaging with random readers for a few minutes at a time. Those off-script moments – talking about Corbyn, Trump, refugees, The Long Read – gives a real sense of how invested many people are in what we do and what we mean to them.

I wouldn’t want to overstate that point. But like people in most jobs journalists are all trying to get through the day – and so it’s easy to lose sense of what influence our news organisations might bring to bear, or the difference we might make in offering news and views that people don’t find elsewhere.

And finally, it is humbling. Sometimes you pick up the phone and someone says, “Oh I love your work. Thank you for doing what you do.” More often they say: “Oh, I was hoping I’d get Owen Jones. Can you put me on hold?”

© Gary Younge. All Rights reserved, site built with tlc
Stranger in a Strange Land – Encounters in the Disunited States
book review
'It often takes an outsider to look inside. This is especially true of the United States.'
 follow on twitter
RT @thebookseller: "This particular anthology is important to me because it focuses on people, places and issues that have in the past been…
RT @FaberBooks: Dispatches from the Diaspora is available to pre-order, with signed copies available to pre-order from @NewhamBookshop now:…
RT @FaberBooks: Dispatches from the Diaspora: From Nelson Mandela to Black Lives Matter. A powerful, career-spanning collection of @garyyo
RT @DurrutiRising: Huge mobilisations against the cops in #Athens tonight after a 16 year old Roma boy was shot through the head yesterday.…
A couple months ago I conducted a fascinating public interview with RMT leader @MickLynch4AGS .about everything fro…
RT @SRTRC_England: An exciting new role as head of #humanresources at #ShowRacismtheRedCard Please RT. #educatorsjobs @MichaelRosenYes @gar
“We didn’t ask for Lady Hussey to resign. But, really, the monarchy must do better on race.” Wanting the monarchy t…
RT @mikewhoatv: Riz Ahmed nails it…“where are you really from?”
RT @HertsSid: Lady Susan Hussey at Buckingham Palace be like
RT @ilfoglio_it: "Il razzismo c’è ovunque, l’antisemitismo pure, così come le persone mentalmente fragili o gli estremisti politici. Ma sol…
© Gary Younge. All Rights reserved, site built with tlc
Where to buy cellcept Bepreve price per pill Using jardiance and janumet together Buy zetia online with free samples What do i need to buy cellcept Mobic 15 mg price Generic lipitor cost Cheap propranolol 100 canada Where to buy trandate online Flonase nasal spray price walmart