Some people believe journalists live hugely glamourous lives, getting free clothes, tickets to all the latest events and bylines on the cover of Vanity Fair every day. I guess it’s like that in the films (see How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days, The Devil Wears Prada etc), but in real life, not so much. Here’s a little taste of reality, with some pictures of life as a news editor of a weekly paper in London.
The diary for the week includes a visit to a school to talk about a project my company has launched – I may be a grown woman, but speaking in front of teenagers still terrifies me. Meanwhile, reporters cover court on both Thursday and Friday, and usually come back with some decent stories, which readers love.
A meeting between news editors and photographers in the afternoon gives both sides a chance to air any problems or issues – both sides have plenty.
Sometimes life on a weekly is glamourous (rarely though), and you get to go to the launch of London Fashion Weekend and get a goodie bag – never underestimate the pull of free stuff for journalists. It’s just a pity there were no pens in the bag.
Plans for the week’s paper start off largely blank, and get filled with ads as we go, so trying to anticipate how much space I’ll have for stories is often a guessing game – one that I succeed at only 50 per cent of the time. By the way – ROP=run of paper.
A visit to the local MP’s office always results in some interesting stories. Thursdays and Fridays are a good chance for me to get out of the office and get writing, as after the weekend I’m chained to the desk trying to meet deadlines. Seeing one of our local MPs is also a chance to see her office cat, which is always asleep whenever I visit. Must be a Friday afternoon thing – I know plenty of journalists who wish they had the same luxury.
A colleague on a sister paper makes a heated point about old style telephones and 999. I believed her, and you’ve got to admire her conviction, even if a quick search on Google shows she was wrong.
It’s rare, but we do manage to escape the office for lunch at times. When the day is getting stressful, Turkish food is the only thing that helps. There’s really no need to see the menu though, a lahmacun (Turkish pizza) is always the way to go.
I’ve yet to go to a film premiere, but I do get plenty of screeners for films I’ve never heard of that I watch at weekends so I can write reviews on them for our what’s on guide and for this blog. Surprisingly, this one – Welcome to the Riley’s – was actually quite good.
Monday mornings, ahead of rapidly looming deadlines, I like to try and ease into the day with breakfast (healthy hot water with lemon, unhealthy pain au chocolat) and a magazine. I believe this issue of Time is about a month old, so I’m playing catch up. And unlike Warren Buffet, optimistic is not how I usually start my week.
Much of Monday is spent putting together the front of the book, reading reporters’ copy and placing it on pages. It’s a task that can be frustrating due to the system we use, which always seems to go on the blink just as the paper is at the most crucial point. CTRL+S is the most important computer command in my life, and one I use constantly.
Once the paper has gone to press on Tuesday afternoon, the week starts again. And usually with some meetings that involve me doing some waiting, and staring at my feet.
A quote about books to finish the week off. If we’re applying this to newspapers, then local newspapers unfortunately probably fall in the first half of the quote.