A week in the life of Building

Monday, 16 July and Tuesday, 17 July

Construction is higher than ever on the national news agenda at the moment. So much of mainstream news coverage is of interest to our readers – 100,000 managers who work across the sector. This week saw the demise of Metronet, the private-sector company upgrading the London Underground, fears of new cost overruns on the Olympics and the housing crisis.

Though these stories give us plenty to get our teeth into, it can also be frustrating for weekly journalists like us when the storyline changes on a daily, often hourly basis. We break stories and new developments on the web several times a day, but it can be tricky trying to get a running story to look fresh when Building lands on desks on Friday after we’ve gone to press on Wednesday.

The on-going saga of Metronet was a case in point. Naturally, we’ve been following its fortunes pretty closely. On Monday and Tuesday, as we put pages away, Metronet was on its deathbed, but still fighting for survival. By early Wednesday, our last press day, it was all over. The race was on to get a fresh angle and we focused on how the work might now get done, and by whom. It also forced me to bin the crack-of-dawn leader I’d written before a breakfast seminar that morning – and write a fresh one once I got to my desk before the 2pm deadline.

Wednesday, 18 July

Normally I wouldn’t get out on Wednesday morning, but the seminar was on social housing, which we’re writing about much more these days. I knew the audience would be packed with essential contacts, and it was certainly time worth spent.

The week wouldn’t be complete without an update on the Olympics. It’s the Posh and Becks story of our world. You can guarantee any story we run on 2012 always gets the biggest hits on the Building website (though, mind you, our health and safety blunders section, where readers send in pictures of workers doing daft things on site, runs a close second).

The Olympics is such a massive source of work for people in the sector – and a massive source of tensions. The Olympic Delivery Authority wants superstar architects on board, but is struggling to find the contractors to build them for the price on the table. We’re in the biggest building boom for a generation and contractors can pick and choose. What we’re doing is looking for a heads-up on who’s landed what contract and get there ahead of our rivals. Lunch with a contact on Monday produces some valuable leads.

It always feels a bit of a relief on Wednesday when we’ve got the book to press – and we wait to see what our rivals have come up with on the following day. The next couple of days are usually spent out and about and on other bits of the job – awards, conferences and supplements, plus thinking about next week’s cover and features. We’ve recently launched a networking club for new professionals in the sector, too, and on a meeting on Thursday we plan the next couple of club events in London and Glasgow.

There’s a few other internal meetings in the diary, a few interviews – we’re recruiting at the moment for a couple of jobs – and another batch of mid-year staff appraisals. We’re normally deluged with invites for events, but coming up to August the construction industry takes flight to the sun and things calm down a bit. We drop one issue in the month – so we’re all off ourselves on a two-day jaunt to Barcelona – our treat for winning the company’s team of the month award recently.

There’s a few interesting things in the in-box for the autumn, including an invite to speak at a Tory conference fringe event – on housing – and I’m asked to give a talk to journalists at City University on integrating web and print, which we’re doing relatively successfully. I gave a similar talk last week to a group of tutors at an event organised by the Periodical Training Council.

I cancel dinner with a close contact on Wednesday because my 12-year-old son tells me on Tuesday he’s in a concert – which for weeks he’d be telling me he didn’t have to attend. I’ve already missed a few things at his school so thought I’d better show he has a mother and duck out of the dinner. But I get a call on Wednesday lunchtime saying he didn’t have to attend afterall. Remain calmish… and manage to catch up with my other half for dinner instead.

Thursday, 19 July

I’m able to get away on Thursday to go to my two daughters’ summer concert – and for once I’m on time for a 6.30pm start and don’t incur the wrath of my nine-year-old.

Friday, 20 July

Get up on Friday feeling reasonably in control until I discover our 16-week-old Labrador has ransacked my handbag, gnawed my Blackberry and swallowed the sim card.

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