Sunderland University lecturer stands up for city after writing for new book on Brexit

Lee Hall University of Sunderlands Head of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies.
Lee Hall University of Sunderlands Head of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies.

A Sunderland University lecturer has joined journalism greats in penning a chapter in a new book that looks at the impact of the media on Brexit and the election of Donald Trump.

The University of Sunderland’s Head of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies, Lee Hall, has written a chapter in new book titled Brexit, Trump And The Media - which includes contributions from some of the top names from the world of media, including Jon Snow, Nick Robinson and Raymond Snoddy.

The Sunderland Echo front page in response to the New York Times article.

The Sunderland Echo front page in response to the New York Times article.

In his chapter, Mr Hall looks at the global perceptions of Sunderland following last year’s EU Referendum.

The Wearside academic considers how Sunderland is actively pushing back from its media portrayal of Brexit’s divided Britain, with its bid to become the UK’s City Of Culture in 2021.

In his chapter of the book, Lee uses quotes from some of the region’s influential voices, such as Sunderland Echo Managing Editor Gavin Foster, who cares passionately about a city he believes offers much more than socially deprived portrayal that was painted by the likes of the New York Times last year after the Brexit vote.

City leaders and Echo readers have slammed The New York Times for a stinging outdated portayal of Sunderland in the post-Brexit article.

Reporter Kimiko De Freytas-Tamura visited Sunderland in the wake of the UK-wide vote to leave the EU - and painted a biased, patronising and grossly distorted picture of the city.

Lee also spoke to the Daily Mirror’s Associate Editor Kevin Maguire, from South Shields, for the book.

Lee said: “Sunderland’s result was not the decisive moment of an extraordinary night.

“Nor was the margin of victory especially high – 80 areas of the country voted more strongly to exit the EU.

“But its status as a Brexit city – and a perceived decision to fire a bazooka into its foot at point blank range – was making headlines.”

More than a year on and Sunderland is now pushing to become City of Culture and has regenerated areas such as Keel Square and the impending opening of the New Wear Crossing bridge.

A city in the process of rejuvenation is something Lee explores in the book, commenting that ‘post-Brexit Sunderland is looking to boost its industry, address perceptions of the city and turn around its fortunes’ with its Sunderland 2021 bid.

The chapter also includes comments from the Sunderland 2021 director, Rebecca Ball, who acknowledges there are challenges, but is confident the city is capable of “stepping out from the perceived shadow of a great industrial past”.

Lee himself is passionate about the city, and the University of Sunderland.

He heads up a team in the David Puttnam Media Centre that has seen a similar transformation in recent years.