Monday, January 21, 2008

Ron Hunt: telling it straight

I was sad to hear of the death of Ron Hunt, the editor who defied the NUJ for six months by bringing out Kettering's Evening Telegraph on his own in the bad old days of the late seventies.

I spent a little under a year there as a district reporter, a short while after the braziers had cooled - and after the mutton-chopped one had kindly let me choose my patch.

It was a toss up between Corby, a town reborn on the back of a thriving steelworks, a union hotbed and rampaging Scots who'd followed the work south, or Rushden, a dead-on-its-feet old boot-and-shoe town where "bugger all happens outside the Lions Club AGM".

I chose the Cobblers over the Gorbals because I reckoned its sleepiness was a front for the sort of salacious exclusives I'd been flogging to the red tops on my last paper. I came away with my six-quid-a-week better contract thinking Ron must be dead chuffed to have snared such a high-flyer and wondering how long he could hang on to him before Larry Lamb or Derek Jameson finally snapped him up.

A few weeks later, my old boss rang to see how I was getting on. I left out the bits about the pensioners' bring-and-buy and the guest speaker at the Probus Club and gushed on about the mole I was cultivating deep inside Thrapston Councl.

He said Ron would be delighted. He'd rung him for a reference, said he thought I was a cocky little t**t but would have to do because the strike had put a lot of good people off and he was desperate.

I did get a few exclusives, even though my other mole at Irthlingborogh Women Against Nuclear Proliferation never delivered and did get snapped up after eight months ... by the rival freesheet.

Hey-ho, onwards and downwards ...

Friday, January 18, 2008

It must be true. It's in the papers

Wires are always getting crossed between departments. It's embarrassing when you splash on Takeover deal imminent and the City desk runs a diary piece scotching rumours. But in the terrace talk and training ground whispers that is modern-day sports reporing, it's easy for the same desk to score an own goal.

Today's Metro (Page 67) has Alan Shearer experincing Shear Heartache "with [ex-Fulham nanager Chris] Coleman set to be King Kev's No.2

Turn two pages and Coleman looks to have ruled himself out of the running and Shearer, clearly a master of his own destiny, appears far from heartbroken when he make it clear: I don't know whether I want to be a number two.

Hardly singing from the same team sheet.

Monday, January 07, 2008

The truth is out there somewhere

Regular readers will know I'm always urging rookie reporters to dump from Big Brother and watch DVDs of Lou Grant. Well, I've more essential viewing for those with the stomach for it: Jeremy Kyle.

Not because it'll harden them up to vox pops on dodgy estates but for the sheer plausibility exhibited almost daily by the most accomplished liars.

The pick of them came on Thursday when a somewhat tasty geezer whose fibs had been rumbled by a lie detector the previous week, flatly and animatedly refused to admit he'd spent the night with his mistress or tried repeatedly to phone her before the next show so they could get their stories straight to avoid further embarrassment.

He stuck to his guns, even when his pal in the audience, albeit thick as a brickie's buttie, inadvertently shopped him. And when the mistress produced her phone to reveal nine missed calls from him, he still protested his innocence and insisted everyone was "'avin a larf".

Now that’s a reality show. And one that every rookie would do well to watch once in a while, if only to reaffirm what every old hand on the news desk will tell them: people lie their pants off, sometimes ever so convincingly, whenever it suits them to do so.