Bath time and breaking news: It’s just another day in the life of the EDP editor
PUBLISHED: 13:28 22 January 2019
There’s no such thing as a dull week in local journalism, it’s why I’m always happy to recommend it as a trade to young people looking for an interesting profession to work in.
But these last seven days have been something else as we’ve had the world’s media camped in our backyard desperate to find an exclusive angle to Prince Philip’s A149 prang.
Our national media colleagues clearly know the Royals sell papers, drive web traffic and bring in television viewers otherwise they would not have gone to the lengths we’ve seen over the last few days.
Such is the depth of audience information we the media have at our fingertips in the modern world, decisions like these are not based on assumptions, but evidence gained from newspapers sales figures and up-to-the-minute digital audience statistics.
In our own newsroom, for instance, we use what is called the ‘dashboard’ to determine what our digital audience might be interested in. It might then help us to decide to write more about that subject.
Some of this informs what we put in the newspapers, but that said it’s not the be all and end all because audience demographics differ and of course were always looking to surprise people with stories and issues they have never previously read about or heard of.
As editor, a story like the Duke’s crash presents all sorts of challenges and issues to think about. It all started when we received an anonymous phone call last Thursday afternoon to tell us about the crash.
We’d actually already given the accident some early coverage online as part of our ongoing traffic coverage, though at that point we had no inkling as to who was involved.
King’s Lynn chief reporter Chris Bishop was instantly sent to the scene, managing to grab what turned out to be one of only a handful of images of the Duke’s damaged car.
Clearly at this point we wouldn’t simply publish and be damned however, verification is vital and while all our evidence suggested this was a major story about to break - we weren’t quite ready to go live on the website.
I’ll never forget the amusing conversation over the phone with a friend and colleague at ITV Anglia as we both tried to find out what the other knew about the story, without giving away too much at the same time.
It was during this phone call Kensington confirmed the Duke was involved and the conversation was quickly ended as we scrambled to speak to our respective teams.
The next few hours is a bit of a blur and I must give a thank you to my lovely mother who was patiently inside my house looking after my two children, while I spent 30 minutes in the car making sure we were doing everything we needed to do.
At this point I was attempting to deal with the live breaking story for our websites, handling various calls from the world’s media who wanted our photos and then trying to decide what we would do in the EDP the next day as deadline quickly loomed.
To further complicate matters, I’d released my mother to go home and was now trying to safely get the children in and out of the bath while the phone rang off the hook. I promise no children were harmed in the making of the story as eventually their mum arrived home and took them to safety!
Of course, once day one was signed off the story didn’t stop there and it’s fair to say we’ve seen something of a media frenzy since as outlets, admittedly ourselves included, tried to find an angle no other media has.
That said, one thing our national colleagues don’t have to worry about to the same level as ourselves, is local reputation and I always make it clear to my team this is vital to uphold and that we would never step over the mark on a story - no matter how big we think the exclusive might be.