Jon Henley writes for the Guardian, his writing is a craft in itself, he is a notebook and shorthand man not a blackberry/iphone/google journalist. He is also a passionate advocate for the crafts and trades and I would love to share some of his choice pieces of writing. I first met him when he started a series called disappearing acts in 2010. It covered all manner of things form how to make a split cane fishing rod to a besom broom to a saddle he even did an article on a certain wooden bowl turner
What sets Jon’s writing apart is that he has a deep interest in these things and genuine passion for the people. He understands and values the graft, the long years of dedication that are needed to master these skills and he writes about it beautifully. Many of the disappearing acts also have audio slide shows which are worth watching. When Jon came to Sheffield I took him to visit Trevor Ablett pocket knife maker, that made a wonderful article and the slideshow is well worth a watch.
I have not seen it but several folk have told me about the TV program “Benefits Street” Jon wrote a lovely article charting the history of the street from when it was first built to the present day recording the people that lived there and the trades they worked in, a wonderful piece of social history which shows a picture so much more complex than the simplistic view TV tends to put across, read it here.
In 2010 Jon came to the launch of the Heritage Crafts Association at the V&A and wrote a wonderful double page article in the Guardian’s G2 supplement all about how important traditional crafts are and why they should be valued.
He is a lovely man and great writer, I am so glad he is out there. Serious journalistic writing itself is a craft under threat as physical paper sales decline and no one has yet discovered how to monetise online news. The result is journalists become harvesters and editors of crowd sourced stories, blogs and social media become the source, its quick, cheap and current but I will miss the quality of Jon’s writing once this generation of journalists have gone.