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April 18, 2024

Times Radio’s Darryl Morris: ADHD is ‘perfect for journalism’

Presenter found his niche when school radio station was set up.

By Dominic Ponsford

Times Radio journalist Darryl Morris was diagnosed with ADHD as a child. He began his radio career at the BBC in 2006 as a production assistant on Radio Manchester, worked as a presenter at Bauer Media for six years and joined Times Radio in 2018.

He said although ADHD is a disability, he does not feel disabled. It leads to him being “distracted”, but he said: “There’s another way to describe being distracted, which is curious.”

He added: “All of the best stories I’ve come across have been when I have been distracted because I should have been doing something else.”

Morris spoke to Press Gazette as we published research into the prevalence of neurodiversity among those working in news media. An interview with Morris features in the latest Press Gazette podcast.

Asked about perceptions of ADHD in the media, including suggestions that it is over-diagnosed, he said: “The notion that ADHD doesn’t exist at all, which is something that you still see printed in newspapers and championed by commentators, is not true. We can say conclusively, objectively, that isn’t true. It is clinically proven.

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“I have a medical condition. I have a lack of blood flow to my frontal cortex, which means that I have a dopamine deficiency compared with some people who are neurotypical.”

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Morris said he has “nothing qualifications-wise” and described his time at school as “restless”. The turning point for him was when his school set up a radio station.

“That changed my life. I found my niche and I found my stride,” he said.

“Suddenly all of those qualities that were destructive in my life, like being distracted, aka curious, being able to articulate myself verbally so much better than I could in writing, all of those things suddenly became my best asset.”

ADHD can create ‘powerful potent combination’ of characteristics for journalists

In terms of his current working life, Morris said he relies heavily on his calendar, on Google docs and the notes section of his phone.

“I’m brilliant at coming up with ideas. I’m less good at getting through the sort of trudge, through the process of bringing them about and making them happen and that kind of thing. And so I have a lot of scaffolding in my life.”

He said that as well as being easily distracted, his condition can also lead to “hyper-focus”.

“It’s almost like you enter a tunnel. And I try and tap into it as often as I can. You often come out the other end of it feeling absolutely drained. But in that period, in that moment of being in a tunnel, your hyper-focus kicks in and you will do the very best work that you have ever done. You will do work better, richer, more detailed than lots of those who are, I think, neurotypical.

“So there’s a really powerful potent combination, which is being distracted, aka curious, stumbling across something during those moments of distraction, which triggers a hyper-focus and then working so damn hard on that thing that it becomes something very, very special. And that is perfect for journalism.”

For all the benefits ADHD brings, Morris said he would not wish this condition (which can be hereditary) on his as yet unborn child.

“There are still battles you have every single day with your own brain. But knowing that it’s happening, knowing what’s going on in your brain, understanding that you’re not stupid, you’re not an idiot, you’re not necessarily even that deficient, helps. It is just the way that your brain is wired and there are things that you can do to help you survive and thrive.”

More from Press Gazette on neurodiversity in the media:

Email pged@pressgazette.co.uk to point out mistakes, provide story tips or send in a letter for publication on our "Letters Page" blog

Select and enter your email address Weekly insight into the big strategic issues affecting the future of the news industry. Essential reading for media leaders every Thursday. Your morning brew of news about the world of news from Press Gazette and elsewhere in the media. Sent at around 10am UK time. Our weekly does of strategic insight about the future of news media aimed at US readers. A fortnightly update from the front-line of news and advertising. Aimed at marketers and those involved in the advertising industry.
  • Business owner/co-owner
  • CEO
  • COO
  • CFO
  • CTO
  • Chairperson
  • Non-Exec Director
  • Other C-Suite
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  • President/Partner
  • Senior Executive/SVP or Corporate VP or equivalent
  • Director or equivalent
  • Group or Senior Manager
  • Head of Department/Function
  • Manager
  • Non-manager
  • Retired
  • Other
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how Progressive Media Investments may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
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