Josie MacRae - Deputy editor of Five News

25.08.05

It’s August, it’s silly season. But today bucks the trend. Our list
of potential stories looks promising. Police are reconstructing the
final moments before schoolboy Rory Blackhall disappeared, and the
parents of desperately ill baby Charlotte Wyatt are back in court
fighting for the right to have her resuscitated.

Next up it’s a conference call with Chris Shaw, our commissioning
editor at Five. We discuss a big, exclusive interview, including what
the best lines are, when we should run it and how we might promote it.

The afternoon is ideas time at our weekly planning meeting.

Anyone
who can spare the time comes along, from producers to our vision mixer,
to Lara Lewington our weather presenter. There are some great ideas for
stories we can chase.

In keeping with tradition, a big tray of doughnuts sits on the table. For some reason, it seems to help stimulate the ideas.

The
editor is off on holiday from today, so we run through some of the
challenges for the next few weeks. There’s plenty to keep us busy.

26.08.05

OK, so now the August “no news” feeling is back. Most of the TV
industry has headed to Edinburgh for the conference and it seems as if
everybody else has headed off for the Bank Holiday weekend. News is a
funny thing. Most of the time it takes people at work to make it
happen. The roads are empty and the Sky canteen is almost deserted.
Even the lunch options are limited. I take it that’s because the best
chefs have also taken the day off.

Putting food aside, my day begins with a drama. All of our picture feeds are being recorded in the wrong format.

Fortunately, the issue’s resolved before our 11.30am news bulletin.

The
programme goes well, except for two of those things you can never plan
for. Firstly, we have a baby girl in the studio who starts bawling
while Helen Fospero is reading the headlines. Incredibly, her mum
manages to stop her just as the programme gets underway. Then another
guest develops a terrible stutter as soon as she’s in front of the
camera.

Helen manages to wrap up the interview as soon as possible.

Live telly is never, ever dull!

After
the 5.30pm show, I grab my case and head for Heathrow to join everyone
else at the Edinburgh Festival. By the time our director and I reach
our hotel at 11pm on Friday night, the Five autumn launch is winding up.

We
meet the news team at a rather smart restaurant, where they proceed to
dance wildly around our table. Hopefully no one will recognise or
remember the moves of one of our senior correspondents!

27.08.05

Edinburgh TV Festival. Today is a blur of sessions, meeting people,
eating and drinking. We run into Kirsty Young at the temporary Soho
House. The champagne is flowing and the world is fine.

28.08.05

The world is not so fine this morning.

29.08.05

Back at work today, a beautiful, warm, sunny Bank Holiday Monday. But the silly season comes to an abrupt halt.

Hurricane Katrina is threatening wide scale destruction in New
Orleans. We have a strong lead story with amazing pictures and the news
of this dominates our bulletins. Other news pales in comparison, but a
couple of Lloyd’s TSB branches are opening for the first time ever on a
Bank Holiday. We feel for the staff and decide to do a story about the
misery of working on Bank Holidays.

30.08.05

The day begins inauspiciously. I manage to set my alarm for 6pm
instead of 6am. So I scramble out of bed late, skip breakfast (which is
never a good start) and dash into work.

I look at the papers before the morning meeting when we choose the
stories we’re chasing. Hurricane Katrina is our top story on the
5.30pm. As the afternoon goes on, more and more pictures come in
showing the devastation. Beyond that, we have a strong mix of crime,
consumer advice and human stories, all done with the approachable,
viewer-friendly touch that Five News viewers love.

31.08.05

A crazy day. Too much to do. Not enough hours to do it.

We send one of our producers off to the US to cover the aftermath of
Hurricane Katrina. She leaves wearing summer clothing – I hope she has
some boots in her bag.

Our correspondent Catherine Jacob flies
back from New York with an exclusive story of a family’s battle to save
their two seriously ill children and her report is incredibly moving.

Our
press queen Lou Plank comes in to discuss how we can best place the
story in the newspapers, which will hopefully help them raise money to
pay for treatment and travel.

The day ends with every television
journalist’s nightmare – technical problems. We have amazing technology
but sometimes the simplest things trip us up. Today an edit suite is
out of action and really causes problems but we deal with it… and
hopefully the viewers are none the wiser. As I said, it’s never dull in
telly news… even in August.

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