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Writer, editor and publisher Chuck Grieve – pictured here picking up the IoIC award for National Grid’s commemorative book Unprecedented in 2014 – shares his thoughts on writing, internal comms and news the world over in the latest in our IoIC People series.

Summarise your work in one sentence.

I talk to people and write their stories. Mostly.

What was the most valuable thing you learned from your first job?

How to write lean copy and edit text down to the bones. And not to take it personally when someone gives your copy a hard edit.

When did you make the move into comms?

If by comms you mean what I think you mean (smoke and mirrors), I’ve avoided moving into it my entire career. There’s no mystery about communication although some people would have us think otherwise. I started in newspapers 45 years ago so that suggests I’ve been in comms that long. Corporate clients entered my professional life in the 1990s.

What aspect of your work are you most passionate about?

All of it. I love good writing.

What do you see as the key qualities of writing for internal audiences?

Same as writing for external audiences: truth and accuracy. That gives you credibility. Without credibility, you’re finished.

As well as writing and editing projects, you also work as a publisher. What sort of books?

Mainly memoir – the extraordinary stories of ordinary people. It started with a book about my grandmother’s emigration in the winter of 1908 from England to Canada and just evolved. I’ve met some fascinating people and heard some great stories. I do it because it's worthwhile. Maybe one day it will make a little money too.

Describe a project you’ve been particularly proud of.

Too many to pick just one... subbing a junior colleague’s story into an award winner – twice – was satisfying.

What are the biggest changes you’ve seen over the course of your career?

The decay in the quality of thought among journalists and commentators – so much noise, so little substance. And news presented as entertainment – soap opera with real characters – is just plain wrong. In my opinion.

You’ve worked in a number of countries. Give us an example of an overseas job or project.

The UK is ‘overseas’ for me – I’m Canadian. But Britain stacks up pretty well in most respects alongside places in Europe, the Gulf and Far East where I’ve worked, although as we all know it’s not perfect. In the Gulf, newspaper hacks had to be careful self-censors or they’d be on the next plane out – or worse. In the Far East, it was always difficult getting people to talk to you because they feared repercussions. Sometimes I think the UK press’s cavalier attitude to people’s lives could use a little of that fear, real or just perceived.

What’s your favourite book of all time.

I haven’t written it yet.
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