Thursday, 1 December 2011

A 'typical' week in a newsroom? Hardly.

This originally appeared in my Bath Chronicle column on November 24 after a crazy week in the office....

On Monday night, November 21, I had the pleasure of talking to the Weston Local History Society on the subject of the local and national media – past, present and future. It was, hopefully, an informative evening for everyone but there was one point when I was literally lost for words. And that was when one of the members asked me to describe ‘a typical day’ in the life of an editor or a newsroom.

The reason I couldn’t answer immediately is that I realised there is no such thing as a typical day and although we are governed by strict deadlines, what happens between the end of one week’s paper and the publication of the following weeks is totally unpredictable.

And this week has really proved the point.

I was away for a few days last week, only popping back into the office in advance of the Christmas light switch on. I therefore expected that on Monday all the talk would be about John Cleese and the Christmas extravaganza but by the time I came in again the agenda had moved and we have gone on to have a truly remarkable week in the newsroom which really reiterates why the best jobs are those where you never quite know what is going to happen next.

For a starter, we were very short staffed due to holidays and sickness. We all assured ourselves we could cope – and cope we somehow have – but what we weren’t expecting was the astonishing amount of important news stories that had flowed into the office for our small team to deal with.

As hopefully you will may seen in the paper of November 24, it was a big week locally filled with both tragedy (the story of the soldier David Boyce killed in Afghanistan and the sad story of the woman who died at a Bath petrol station) but also with triumph in the shape of the light switch on which brought the whole community together – as did the moving march through our city by the servicemen returning from the Middle East. Throw in the fact that we had some fascinating news about expansions to two of our biggest supermarkets, an RUH fire, the build up to Bath City’s big FA Cup match and so many other stories that  put the whole team on full alert and that really was a week where I can feel even more proud than usual of the small but dedicated team who do everything they can to give you the best possible newspaper, website and Twitter updates.

Of course, we can only produce the news service we do by the fantastic support we receive from you all as our readers and this gives me one of those rare chances to say thank you for that. We care passionately about our community and because you also care passionately about how your community is represented this ‘teamwork’ means we can hopefully always rise to the occasion on weeks like the one we have just seen.

I was out talking again on Friday, November 25, this time to a group of students at Kingswood School about journalism. And one of the points I  made to them is that this is a job where you never quite know what is going to happen next and that is why it is so hard to answer the question ‘what is your typical day’.

And next week? I have no idea.

No comments: