Juggling life as a journalist and a parent is a really tough one, with both demanding not only bags of time but being pretty intense.
Both are among the best jobs in the world and I wouldn’t change anything. But it’s fair to say that the nature of my blog will sometimes highlight how tricky it is to balance the two.
A role requiring long hours, rather than the security of a normal 9-5 job, is clearly not the cheese to the crackers of being Mum or Dad.
So by its nature, my blog might sometimes risk painting journalism in a worse light than the reality.
While it’s not easy, I wanted to redress the balance and point out some of the great opportunities my colleagues and I had been lucky enough to experience because of our roles. Considering this is merely the life of a local reporter, we’re not doing too badly!
When I was at school, I was certainly looked upon by some as a bit odd. While being detention free over five years might have had something to do with it, I also got a fair bit of stick for playing golf. It was seen as an old man’s sport, not something a teenager should be doing.
Well, years later, my weirdness paid off. Up until recently, I was the only serious golfer in my office. When press trips came up, offering jaw-dropping tours of top courses around the world, I was first in line.
I’ve been to Majorca, testing out courses of the rich and famous, including one owned by a member of the Porsche family, of supercar fame. We were told that when he visited, he took out a specially-designed golf buggy which looked like a mini Porsche! The other course was reportedly graced by the likes of tennis ace Rafael Nadal and ex-New York mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Later, I was lucky enough to visit Morocco, which included an incredible whistle-stop tour of the famous souks of Marrakech and Dkemma el-Fnaa central square. Way too many cobras lounging around for my liking but the rest was fascinating.
Others I know have been as far as the United States, Portugal and played other top courses closer to home in the UK, many of which they may never have visited if they had not been reporters.
National paper links
In 2016, our newspaper group acquired the ‘i’ newspaper, former stablemate of the Independent. The paper was still in its relative infancy but carried clout of being one of the country’s national newspapers.
While not taken up by me, other reporters have signed up to do travel writing for ‘i’, trips which have ranged from railway journeys across Europe, jet-setting to New York and the Caribbean and skiing. As someone who struggles in hot weather, the latter probably would have appealed most to me, although risk of breaking my back was a deal breaker!
And despite swerving the travel writing, our association with the ‘i’ has resulted in me being part of our nationwide investigative journalism unit. This enabled me to take part in major stories which graced the front pages of our national paper, an amazing feeling.
I’ll bring you a behind-the-scenes look at how the unit works in a future blog.
Closer to home
Being a journalist allows you to do things which you might never consider trying. Local news is a varied and often random beast and the best thing about it is you don’t know what’s going to hit you next.
They might not sound as glamorous as rocking up to Barbados with Speedos in tow but I can recall giving everything from croquet to rowing a go. I even once gave beekeeping a bash, having to dress up in the full-blown outfit while our cameraman, without such protection, briefly became the most paranoid man in the area as he leapt out of the way of buzzing critters.
One of our reporters even tried out bell ringing this week and came back with the type of facts you’d see in the guest publications round of Have I Got News For You.
I’ve been on ride-alongs with all the emergency services. I saw paramedics deal with the most harrowing of situations, including the battle to save a man’s feet after they were cut to shreds by his lawnmower. I pretended to be a firefighter by cutting up a car to rescue a ‘trapped patient’ (I took so long, the casualty got out themselves and buggered off for a cuppa!). Every visit gave me the deepest respect for these everyday heroes who dealt with everything they faced like it was water off a duck’s back.
There is so much to mention but I hope this gives you a flavour of some of the awesome experiences I’ve had.
I’d love my fellow journalists to let me know some of their highlights, too.