When I mixed up ‘deprivation’ with ‘depravity’ – and my other top tales

I’ve twice interviewed the Prime Minister, challenged computer whizzes to scam me and hurriedly grabbed quotes from physicist Professor Brian Cox in a school car park.

I’ve chased a miracle chicken around a garden with Mini Cheddars to get the right photograph, researched the appearance of mystery skeletons and their links to a ‘big cat’ on the prowl and covered an alleged ghost sighting on a bus aptly called the ‘Pulse’.

I’ve confronted angry builders outside planning meetings, exclusively broke news of a prominent politician’s fraud  case and watched in horror as all hell broke loose when a gang of thugs convicted for stabbing a young man kicked off big style as they were jailed.

And then there’s the hardcore political stuff, from important development plans to bumper pay rises for council chief executives and the impact of government loopholes holding back delivery of much-needed affordable housing.

That’s just a few of the thousands of articles I’ve penned during my five years in local journalism. The examples don’t even scratch the surface.

It’s why one of the most common questions us journalists get – ‘What’s your favourite story’ – is such a tough one to answer.

Add into the mix the late nights suffered at the hands of my young child and it’s even harder to recall the classics.

Despite this, I’ve racked my brains to come up with a few top tales. You weren’t expecting just one, were you?

Worst cock-up: Ok, let’s get the ugly out of the way first. Worst moment has to be in my first few weeks, when a councillor at a meeting was talking about Shoreham’s deprivation. When reviewing my shorthand, I saw it as ‘depravity’…a rather different concept! Sadly, this slipped through the net!


Bizarre: Hinted at above but ‘ghost sighting on bus’ was an unexpected moment. Click here for the story. Most understandably thought the chap was mad – but spookily we had a reader later write in to say his late mother had died (I believe on a local bus) and wore similar clothing to the description. Spooky!

Rewarding: Speaking to people after their loved ones have died can be a tough job. Telling the stories of those we’ve lost, though, is a privilege. When I interviewed the family of Worthing doctor, Sunny Lingam, I was heartened to learn how much comfort they got from reading my piece. Years later, I coincidentally crossed paths with Sunny’s son, who I hadn’t spoken to for my piece – and he remembered the tribute!



Top for nerves: I have to admit that interviewing the Prime Minister (David Cameron, at the time) for the first time was a nerve-racking few minutes. Not so much meeting the man himself but the responsibility of getting it right, particularly as it was related to the Shoreham Airshow crash. It later transpired that the local council leader and MP had been in the room. I hadn’t even clocked them!

Top intro: Well, when your MP hits the headlines for the time he spends in the bath, it would be rude not to have a bit of fun, right?


Important: Joking aside, we play a really important role in holding people to account. When I heard initial discussions about a council chief executive’s salary were to be held behind closed doors, I challenged it. I wasn’t successful that year and was duly asked to leave the meeting – but a year later the proceedings were fully public. Hooray!




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