Liz Falkingham

3.10.03

Thursdays always start with the editorial planning meeting, which all the section editors and chief subs attend.

Having only recently taken over the editor’s chair at Farmers Guardian, I’m still finding my feet. Ideas that woke me in the small hours are hastily added to the Any Other Business section and, inevitably, what is supposed to be an hour’s meeting runs on and on.

What brings it up short is an 11.30am appointment with the accountant, the adult equivalent of double maths for me, not to mention a cold, hard reality check as a recent transfer from the “budget, what budget?” reporters’ department.

The afternoon is taken up with interviewing potential community correspondents for our new northern network. Successfully piloted in the South West, we are now rolling the networks out elsewhere, giving a welcome “grass roots” feel to a national newspaper.

24.10.03

Accompany one of the display advertising people to a meeting in Peterborough arranging a media partnership deal. These are increasingly important ways of developing good relationships with key advertisers, so I remind myself before I go in not to swear, spit on the carpet, or generally behave badly.

On the way home I call in at an old college friend’s house – he and his father run a small mixed unit in Lincolnshire and do some contracting.

Unfortunately, as it was an unannounced visit, he’s away working and his wife tells me that, these days, that means mainly building and landscaping, not farming. Another sign of the times.

25.10.03

Visit the new, highly successful Countryside Live event on the Great Yorkshire showground, Harrogate – partly work, partly family day out. An old friend has been arm-twisted into looking after my 18-month old son, Henry, while I attend a meat industry awards luncheon.

On returning an hour later, said friend is looking noticeably frazzled and greets me with “he can run” and the confession that he had never had sole charge of a small child before.

We visit the cattle lines and then exit via the tractor display. Twenty minutes later, now screaming child is dragged from a giant John Deere tractor, fingers having to be unpeeled from the steering wheel. His father is a farmer – it’s genetic obviously.

27.10.03

In Somerset for a lunch meeting with the South West community correspondents, none of whom I’ve met before.

The network was set up to help us pick up on local events, which ordinarily would not register on news desk’s radar.

The correspondents are ordinary people trying their hand at journalism and photography and as such there have been some adjustments to be made on both sides.

Nonetheless, Farmers Guardian readers have responded very well to the mix of local news and views on the South West edition pages – as national and regional papers move away from in-depth rural coverage, it gives us an opportunity to expand readership. Sales are up more than 20 per cent in the South West for us, so it is definitely working.

28.10.03

Inconveniently, our political editor’s wife has her baby on time, leaving us ringing round freelances to cover a last-minute Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs announcement in London. First babies are supposed to be late, wails the deputy news editor.

Having been out of the office for two days, there is a backlog of work to be done and it’s late when I finally leave.

I am furious to discover several people have engaged in mass shunt on the M6, as if a 65-mile commute was not bad enough. See that one is a BMW and immediately feel better.

Tractors cause tears: a John Deere is enough make any child cry

29.10.03

Press day, always frenetic, but it gets off to a good start with the announcement that the front-page lead has arrived already.

As it’s Hallowe’en Night on the day we come out, there are the usual pumpkin pictures scattered through the newspaper. Jokes about the printers “running out of orange ink” or renaming ourselves Pumpkin Weekly are not deigned worthy of response.

Sterling work all round means an unusually early finish of 6.30pm and the chance to go to the gym – or enjoy a nice bottle of wine.

Tough call.

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