Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Beaten up and left for dead: When the newsman is the news

IT'S NEVER easy featuring your own staff in the paper.

If they’ve run a marathon, lost eight stone or jumped out of a plane for charity we’ll probably find a home for them in the back of the book.

But what if they’ve been beaten up in the street and left for dead?

What if they were rescued by sharp-eyed CCTV operators who spotted the assault and alerted the police?

And what if the assailant was jailed for four years for what the judge called a “disgraceful incident”?

My honourable deputy editor, Paul Dent-Jones, had no qualms about what we should do with his own agonising and deeply disturbing story.
Run it on the front page.

We posed the same questions we would if it had been any other innocent bystander, not one of our top journalists:
  • Do we have CCTV pictures of the incident?
  • Have we got an interview with the victim?
  • Are there pictures of both victim and attacker?
  • Do we have the full court story?

Yes to all of the above, so page one here we come.
Paul even wrote a poignant first person piece about his harrowing experience and explained to his tearful wife why we had to run it.
He wrote: “Perhaps I could have asked my editor to overlook this story…”
To be honest, if he had, I’m not sure what I would have said.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Latest News: Editor Is Journalist Shock

MOST EDITORS - and I can think of a few honourable exceptions - started in journalism doing all the things we love best.
Reporting, writing, taking pictures, writing headlines and drawing pages are the building blocks of the newspaper game and we love 'em all.
But just as you get quite good at that someone comes along and tells you that you might also be quite good at recruitment, budgeting, going to meetings, making pearls from swine and sometimes cleaning the toilets.
So, off you go to the door marked 'Editor' and suddenly all that fun journalism seems from a different world.

Here, in no particular order as Dermot would say, are some of the things I've done this week.
  • Helped set up meeting with Union reps about pensions
  • Dealt with aftermath of over-exuberant office Christmas party
  • Held an inquiry into company car usage.
  • Hired three staff, said no thanks to another three
  • Handled three angry readers, two upset MPs and a pigeon in a station tree (that's a story for another day).
Don't get me wrong, I love it all, especially making things happen when not much is happening but I am also determined to keep my journalistic hand in.
This week I've also written a panto review (Oh yes I have!), penned a trenchant comment and taken the front page picture for this week's Essex Chronicle (see above) complete with photo credit. My mum would be proud.
So, editors, wherever you've got to remember where you've come from and keep doing what you used to do.