Why I love the return to newsroom normality

It was pitch black as I left home this morning.

If the writer Alistair MacLean was still churning out the novels, one of his characters would undoubtedly have called the conditions “as dark as the Earl of Hell’s waistcoat.”

As I drove through Somerset, the road threw up messy gunk, with heavy rain a prospect for later in the day.

And yet, there was a vague song in my heart.

Granted, I’ve just booked two holidays.

But I also love the return to normality that this week brings, even if summer seems a very long way off.

Last week there was an air of mild desperation in one of the newsrooms I visit regularly, as the well of stories began to run dry.

Fast forward a few days, and in that same newsroom yesterday there was a palpable sense of energy, purpose and good humour.

One of the titles based there had four potential splashes, all of which needed to be used, and all of which were doing well online.

After days of skeleton staffing, suddenly there seemed a real risk that we could run out of desks.

It’s great to see people beginning to engage with their communities again, as councils, Parliaments and schools spring into action for a new year.

But let’s think for a minute what got most newsrooms through Christmas and the New Year.

If I’m not much mistaken, it would have been careful planning, creativity, story development – and a willingness to experiment.

So, as official sources get back to work and on-a-plate stories tempt us once more, let’s not lose that festive spirit.

In fact, let’s remember the wise words of veteran editor Bill Bradshaw, whose death is reported today.

This is what one of his colleagues said about him:

He was a big people person, preferring to escape the comfort zone of his office to meet outside.

One of his maxims was ‘where there’s people there’s news’.

People and planning.

They’re not a bad recipe for better content in 2016.

Happy New Year.


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