Monday is the busiest day of the week for me as we go to press. I finished last week with most of the news done. However, a new story has arrived in my inbox today, which means that two of the pages have to be redesigned and re-written. The last-minute modifications are eased by the fact that I have a brilliant graduate called William Mulholland doing work experience with me.
A few weeks ago I wrote a story about a controversial Privilege car insurance advertisement, which I felt misconstrued the image of game shooters. Response to my article has been mixed. Some shooters are outraged by the way they have been stereotyped and others see it as harmless fun. Shooting Times’s deputy editor, Alastair Balmain, has asked me to write an opinion piece on why I feel the ad is so detrimental to the sport. I make a rough start on this.
A couple of weeks ago, IPC Media held the Shooting Industry Trade Awards at EJ Churchill shooting ground in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire. Before the award ceremony, the advertising team organised a clay shooting competition for award nominees and guests. I was unable to take part as I needed to set up a camera and lighting to shoot a video of the day. As a result, the managing director, Rob Fenwick, kindly invited me back to the grounds for a shooting lesson. I usually try to spend Tuesdays out of the office, to meet contacts or gather stories, so this invitation was ideal. My lesson was with chief coach Adam Calvert who taught me a new approach. As a result, I shot nearly every clay that went over me.
At my desk by 7.45am and spend today sourcing news stories online. I speak to a contact who has an exclusive story on how the number of hen harriers has hit record numbers in Forest of Bowland, Lancashire. This story is of particular interest as around 90 per cent of the harriers live on sporting estates. Having Will to assist me has proved such a help that I ask my editor if I would be able to offer monthly work placements to university students. She agrees.
After a news meeting at midday, I write up the news and pass two of my six pages to the designers. Thursdays are a busy day for writing and I always try to get as many of the pages over to the picture editor and designers as early as possible. There are some very strong news stories this week, including a ban on electric-shock dog collars in Wales. This move by the Welsh Assembly has caused outrage among the dog-training community who feel that it is only a very small minority who use the collars irresponsibly. I interview several trainers in Wales and the gundog representative from the British Association for Shooting and Conservation, who all feel that, if used responsibly, these collars can be an effective training method.
Mid-afternoon I receive a tip-off from a trusted source in the north of England. More than 1,600 pheasant poults have been stolen from a rearing pen which prompts all the shooting organisations to call for gamekeepers to be extra vigilant. Pheasant theft seems to be on the increase as their worth increases. I also finish writing the opinion piece on the Privilege car insurance advertisement.
Friday is also a busy day as it is the day before we go to press on Monday. I spend it fitting my news on InDesign and touching up stories before they are passed on to the subbing team. In the afternoon I have a meeting with Phil Wallis, who is senior video producer for other IPC Media brands such asNME and Nuts. This weekend I am shooting the first video of a new series on dog training so we go over the storyboard, finalise paperwork and discuss last-minute details. My dog trainer, Chris Burns, is going to be presenting along with his 10-week old springer spaniel puppy, Herbie.
My day ends at 6pm with most of my news written. A Monday press day means that if I want to enjoy my weekend, then I need to be pretty much finished by Friday evening.