Just when you thought the conference season was drawing to a close, it's the turn of Archant editorial. More than 100 delegates from all around the Archant empire arrive at a conference centre in Wyboston for a couple of days, led by cheery ringmaster Peter Sands. It's all about listening, debating, learning… and a modicum of drinking, and it's great to take a break from routine and see old friends from around the group.
It's a diverse bunch — journalists from regional dailies, weeklies, magazines and a handful of web people. Plus the odd ad person wondering when the karaoke is going to start. I'm told the ad conferences are a lot noisier than ours.
Highlight of the first day was David Dunkley Gyimah, video journalism guru, who proceeded to demonstrate just how straightforward this video thing can be… with the right training and kit. More about our Archant "studio" later.
Miraculously, I get to bed not too long after midnight — comparatively sober, although it has been alleged that I was not, after a series of conversations about the future and reminiscences about the past. I'm convinced I have blackmail material against a senior colleague, if I could only remember what it was…
There's something about hotels… I never normally eat much breakfast, but the sight of a line of dishes of sausage, mushrooms, bacon and so on becomes irresistible. Great opportunity this morning to meet Annelies Vandenbelt, digital director of The Daily Telegraph, who spoke on the integrated 24/7 newsroom.
The move sounds interesting — the "hub" is finally arriving. Currently, I'm barely within hailing distance of the two newsdesks — the Eastern Daily Press and Norwich Evening News — and if I want to visit the sports desk I need to take a map and a packed lunch.
Web editors at the conference alternated between a certain smugness that the web played such a key role on the agenda, and frustration at the time it has taken to reach this stage.
We finish after lunch and head back to Norwich, playing silly games in the car at the instigation of assistant editor Paul Durrant, who really should know better at his age.
Back in the office to 3,000 emails and the glorious news that I'm on the early shift but had forgotten. We cover 8am to 8pm-ish, unless there's a Norwich City evening game on, in which case the late shift runs until we get the match report online. Web team members (there are five of us) can also moderate messages from home, which means that our football site, The Pink 'Un, gets updated at all hours of the night by insomniacs. The Pink 'Un has a particularly busy message board, with several hundred turning up in the hours after Norwich City boss Nigel Worthington got the boot.
Because of the smallness of the team, I cover shifts and weekends on the rota, at the same time as working on strategy, commerce, troubleshooting web problems, dealing with the public, and so on. In fact we all have mixed roles.
Today, there's an urgent need for a mock-up of a website for a contract we've decided to pitch for — deadline 48 hours. Thankfully, I can hand this over to our designer, Tracey. Also in my inbox is a request from the information systems department wanting to know my requirements for 2007. And could I provide a full list by Wednesday please. Thanks, chaps — I'd hate to have to rush it.
Am also devastated to learn that despite my offers of bungs all round, I am not to make the Press Gazette powerlist of online journalism. No power, no influence… or no friends? Note to self — be more powerful next year.
In bright and early. First job is to make sure the main stories have reached the EDP website, update the home page and business site and check the message boards. I also have to deal with any overnight queries. There's the chap who is having trouble making the jobs site search work. He sends me a an image of the error which he has managed to create by printing out the page and then scanning it in again, badly, so I can't read it. There's an irate lady who says our Let's Talk website doesn't work. We don't have one — she's trying to access an email account. This is followed by a call from a small local radio station who want to register for our EDP digital edition so they'll "have something to discuss early in the morning before we see a copy of the paper". Nice to know regional papers still keep the radio stations in copy.
I don't seem to be doing a lot. I am really — but you don't want to hear about a three-and-a-half hour EDP strategy meeting (and I'd have to kill you if I told you about it). Thankfully Archant Norfolk has always recognised web people like myself and Pat Prekopp as senior members of the team, and so we do get the chance to be involved in planning and strategy.
While we're doing a lot more standalone video features, we are still creating the daily video news bulletin for EDP24, and it's my turn to "produce" it today with one of our journalists doing the writing and reading. The software is straightforward, thankfully — when we started, we were so short of lighting we used a biscuit tin lid as a reflector.
None of us knew anything about video, about software, about newsreading… actually, I still don't, but the rest of the team do. It has to be said that some of the most entertaining videos on the sites are those provided by the public. We've asked people to recreate Norwich City goals (I know, I know, what goals?) in any way they like — through animations, in their local park, whatever, and we've had some great results. Take a look on www.pinkun.com.