24 hours in British Journalism: A day in the life of the UK's news-makers

On 8 February, Press Gazette and former Take-a-Break editor John Dale launched a unique project aiming to capture a narrative of one 24-hour news cycle.

In total, Dale received more than 60,000 words from journalists, including contributions from editors, reporters, war correspondents, feature writers, columnists, agony aunts, fashion gurus, showbiz writers, broadcasters, paparazzi, trainees and unemployed hacks.

The result was an unprecedented insight into the role and the dimensions of the news industry across Britain and Ireland.

The responses were entertaining, enlightening and intriguing – and are published here online for the first time.

Dale’s two-part feature for Press Gazette – A Day in the Life of British Journalism – published in March and April 2012 later spawned a book called 24 Hours in Journalism, after he found that he had much more material than could be used in the magazine.

24 Hours in Journalism runs to 85,000 words and is available now on Amazon.

“What struck me most was the dedication,” said Dale. “It went way beyond the normal call of duty. Necks were risked, lives put on the line, meals snatched, crafty fags sneaked. These sacrifices were made often for modest money, and all with one goal in mind.”

Part two of the feature will be published on the Press Gazette website next week.

Walthamstow, London: Dawn is 90 minutes away. Outside, it’s dark and freezing.

Inside, behind the drawn curtains, showbiz writer Nick Mcgrath is awake, being poked with a plastic dinosaur by his small son, and wondering if this is the best way to prepare for the day. He’s due to interview TOWIE’S
Lydia Bright and Masterchef’s Gregg Wallace.

Surrey: Freelance Natalie Dye (below), wakes up as her husband leaves for an early swim. She thinks back to the 90s. Then she’d have been flying home on the red-eye scribbling a Hollywood profile. Now she’s ghost-writing columns while being a mum.

Back to sleep.

Natalie Dye

Herts: Susan Watts wakes up pleased about last night’s Newsnight special. She is science editor. It showed a woman having her breast implants replaced.

The unlikely duo of Katie Price, self-publicist, and Naomi Wolf, feminist, accused the minister Anne Milton of lying.

Lashkar Gah, Afghanistan: Midmorning. A Merlin helicopter slips out of a blue sky over Task Force Helmand HQ, bringing back Lt-Col Gordon Mackenzie, ex-Reuters (below). He has just delivered BBC
correspondent Quentin Sommerville to the front line.

As he joins the Afghan National Army, Sommerville learns that two homemade bombs have already gone off. He gets in a British armoured vehicle, safer than the Afghan ones. They move forward in choking
dust.

Tunbridge Wells, Kent: Afghanistan is keeping Sharon Marris awake after two weeks in Helmand for the Kent and Sussex Courier. She says: “Despite the dust, the blisters on my heels, the bruises on my
hips from body armour that is not really shaped for the female figure, the dry hands, assorted scratches and general stresses and frustrations of working in a war zone, I still want to be there – doing that.

"But, as my boss reminds me, there’s no need in Northcliffe for a war correspondent. So that’s another reason I’m lying awake – trying to find a way to prove him wrong.”

Someone else not sleeping is Farrah Storr, editor of Women’s Health, launching today. So excited, she’s been up since 4.30am. She watches a Simple Suppers DVD, does hand weights and salivates over a ‘tea-time mackerel’.

Forget exercising to music, she thinks, work out to your favourite foodie show instead.

While UK journalists splutter into action, international correspondents check their clocks and synchronise. The UK’s a big market.

Peter Bowes, BBC’s Los Angeles reporter, has just recorded an interview with Good Morning Scotland about gay marriage and a school sex abuse scandal. Now he’s at his five-acre ranch where he runs and swims and keeps goats and a llama, somewhat different from his early career in County Durham.

He’s got another big day tomorrow, at Universal Studios. Hollywood is buzzing over the impending Grammy Awards. Hordes of paparazzi photographers are divvying up their targets. There’s massive money to be made.
It’s not just Hollywood enjoying the sun.

Reuters correspondent Graham Holliday sits down at a eucalyptus dining table on the patio of his home in Kigali, Rwanda. He is surrounded by papaya and avocado trees as sunbirds steal pollen from the flowers. He scans emails, RSS Reader and Twitter on a battered iPhone. Not much going on.

North London: Editor Rebecca Fleming is waking up worried. Husband, three kids but she’s thinking about a picture she’s putting on the front cover of Take a Break. Should she pixellate it? Deadline today.

Melbourne: Teatime and Dame Elisabeth Murdoch has been enjoying her 103rd birthday at Cruden Farm, the Murdoch family home. Now, in a flowered shirt and pink jacket, she is being taken to the Melbourne Recital
Centre for a concert in her honour.

She is with grandchildren Elisabeth and Lachlan but a notable absentee is her son, Rupert. He’s got a load on his mind: News Corp’s quarterly results in New York, and a raft of phone-hacking settlements in London. James is absent too.

London: The big cheeses of Fleet Street are readying themselves for another daily battle in their war without end. Two days ago Paul Dacre, editor-in-chief of the Daily Mail, gave evidence to the Leveson inquiry. Now, to his annoyance and others’ glee, he is being recalled over actor Hugh Grant. Dacre, who spends his week nights at his flat behind Harrods, hates the spotlight.

The alarm wakes up Louise Chunn, editor of Psychologies magazine, above. Down to sitting room for 20 minutes of yoga mixed with Pilates following pages torn out of YOU magazine.

Helps with stiffness from computer.

Helmand 06:40: IED bomb explodes in a black eruption 150m from Sommerville’s Husky vehicle. No casualties.

South Africa: Travel writer Meera Dettani is emailing while breakfasting outdoors at the Umkhumbi Lodge. Normally she works looking across North London rooftops. Now she’s next to cages containing boa constrictors.

Instead of listening to Radio 4, it’s birdsong and cicadas.

Next: 7-8am

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