Working Week 20.01.06

Mark Eddo – Business correspondent, ITV News

04.01.06

My
first day in the new job at ITV News and I’m on air in five hours’
time. They don’t mess about here. I came from the BBC business bureau
where my first two weeks were spent at a bonding seminar in a London
hotel. Here I’m lulled into security by a benign induction. The usual
corporate video, info on health benefits, pensions and where the fire
exits are.

We take a stroll down to the Channel 4 studios to see Krishnan Guru-Murthy do his stuff on the lunchtime news.

Then
the big surprise: one of my new bosses mentions I’ll be doing a piece
on the Russia/Ukraine gas brouhaha for the News at Ten Thirty. They
want me to look at how the Cold War military sabre-rattling has made
way for a battle over oil and gas. I say hello to anchorman Mark
Austin. Friendly guy.

Very tall. My new producer and I rush out
to get sound bites, stand-up and other shots. The story goes out on the
late bulletin. It feels good. The editor, Deborah Turness, sends us a
message to say she likes the piece. So does my dad.

05.01.06

“Don’t
look at the man behind the curtain”. ITV News is a bit like the scene
in The Wizard of Oz when Toto pulls away the giant curtain to reveal
the tiny man at the levers. There’s lots of punching above weight and
everyone seems to work flat out. That’s how they manage to take on the
might of Aunty Beeb, despite more limited resources. That’s perfectly
illustrated when ITV News breaks the Charles Kennedy drinking story.
The newsroom kicks into action and the output sings. Really energising.
The guys here seem friendly and approachable. It is a younger crowd.
The office is open-plan, so it is easy to grab someone if you need
them. My story today is on Final Salary Pension schemes. Two more big
names, Arcadia of Top Shop and Burton fame, and the cuddly caring Co-op
have abruptly informed their workers that they’ve been getting too
much, for too little, for too long. I find a good analyst who sounds
the death knell for the generous pension. It goes out on the ITV
Evening News at 6.30pm.

09.01.06

There
exists the rich, the very rich, and the super-rich. The super-rich want
their own club. Today’s task is to do a story on a magazine for
multi-millionaires. Even those who have a spare £10m aren’t entitled to
a copy of Spear’s Wealth Management Survey. Subscription is by
invitation only. The publisher is the appropriately named William Cash.
His wife is in line to pick up a £1bn cheque from the family business.

He
is relaxed. Will Cash tells me that the super-rich want to know about
pre-nuptial agreements and tax havens. Mr Cash shows me an article
about finding the best private investigator to check out a prospective
business partner or your daughter’s boyfriend. Paranoia is something of
a running theme in the magazine. Lower down the page is an ad for
bullet-proof cars. Beauty, it tells us, is 72mm deep. The story goes
out on the Evening News.

10.01.06

I
had to cancel an interview with the Marks & Spencer CEO because
editors decided IKEA’s assault on the high street is a juicier story.
Did my first live, outside the big flat-pack warehouse in Brent Cross.
Good to get the first one out of the way. Spend the rest of the day
chasing a story about the growth of China. Chinese New Year (year of
the dog) is 26 January so the plan is to do a piece on the growth of
China and its impact on the UK, and centre it around the festivities in
London. Takes some digging to focus the story, but we eventually get
the right candidate. We’ll work on that one when we get a spare moment.
Said hello to Sir Trevor McDonald.

11.01.06

The
editors are eager for good ideas here. The daily news beast must be fed
first, so every spare hour will have to be seized to set up future
stories. Alcohol advertising is our story for the day. Ram’s Head beer
has fallen foul of an advertising watchdog rule that states that drink
ads must not link their products to sexual or social success. I find
out that the Brits down 27 million pints of beer a day.

Commentator
Toby Young says no-one could possibly think getting drunk makes you
instantly irresistible to the opposite sex. Much emphasis is put on the
opening shot of the stories here. So my producer suggests we put the
green screen to good use and have me walking inside the posters. The
technical guys jump at the challenge with gusto.

It works really well.

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