Grey Cardigan: Extract from the May column

I USED to love election nights. You’d pick your top boys (and girls), let them have a lie-in on Thursday morning and then despatch them to town halls far and wide for the count.

The planning was brilliant; a real buzz. You’d know from the returning officers what time a result was expected, you’d have snappers in place to capture the tears and jeers, and then it was off to those columns of 6pt, where the real info really mattered. It was proper journalism that actually served our readers.

I remember when we first got colour on the press and used a PA map of the country, dropping in the appropriate red, blue or orange into the constituencies as the results came in. We were banging out editions every two or three hours to keep things updated, finally collapsing into a semi-pissed heap at about 2pm on Friday, the night’s exertions being fuelled by the odd case or two of bubbly. And then it was off to The Shivering Whippet for a liquid de-brief. It was brilliant stuff; the reason we came into this trade in the first place.

So what did we do this week? We have one edition. It goes to press at 10pm, just as the polling stations close. Despite pleas for an extension, so we could at least stand a chance of getting the results of exit polls into print, it’s no go. Thursday night you see; loads of weeklies to get off the press. The Evening Beast? What’s that?

To be honest, it’s gut-wrenching. This is what we do; this is why we are here. Yet on one of the most important news days of the year, we’re unable to bring even the most basic information to our dwindling band of readers. It’s an utter disgrace. And I feel totally emasculated because I can’t do anything about it.

(PS: It should be noted that many regional newspapers fared rather better than the Beast. See the gallery here.)

This is just an extract from the column. For the full Monty, you’ll have to subscribe to the dead tree version. See the very generous offers elsewhere on the site.

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