Julie Bieles


Fiction. Pure fiction. It’s the start of the editorial week and I’m fabricating stories. My journalistic ethics haven’t deserted me – I’m writing a “Tomorrow’s World” feature for PRW’s forthcoming 40th anniversary issue.

It’s based on Technology Zone – the page I write every week – and it’s taking a punt at what plastics technology will look like in 10-20 years’ time.

I’m basing stories on current research projects – PRW being beamed to your electronic newspaper is the lead; downpage stories include plastic houses built by robots; inkjet printed plastic electronic chips and the US switching to a fuel cell economy due to exorbitant oil prices.

PRW’s content reflects this variety.

I’ve covered everything from party conferences to injection moulding machinery, from the latest Bentley to children’s drinking straws.

With a circulation of about 15,000, PRWis the only weekly covering the British plastics and rubber industry.

We have a team of five journalists, which will soon drop to four because our senior reporter is leaving.

Technology Zone is an early page, focusing on technical developments.

It covers everything from machinery to new corn-based polymers, through inventions to industry initiatives.

I source the lead by meeting people at external events, through site visits or tip-offs. Other stories come from company websites, news releases, news wires or developing stories from other parts of the media.

News-wise my focus is aerospace, automobile, sports and politics, although not exclusively. I write features and contribute stories to the daily dot.com service – through which, with our sister magazine European Plastics News, we send out five European news stories a day.

It’s Thursday mid-morning and the dot.com beast must be fed. A report on European plastics recycling levels has been released so I write a piece on that.

Most of Tomorrow’s World is written by 5pm. I leave early to play a tennis match.


Should have stayed at work – I was thrashed by an 11-year-old. I’m all for supporting junior tennis, but I’d rather not be wiped off the court by someone still in school.

On Fridays I write Technology Zone.

I did the interview for the lead last week, so it should be a doddle.

However, I spend most of the morning deciphering a European Commission document on whether PVC is bad for the environment. I get comment from Greenpeace and Vinyl 2010 – a PVC producers’ association – they have polar opposite views. I meet the 1pm dot.com deadline – just.

The Technology Zone lead, about Bradford University’s Centre for Industrial Collaboration (CIC), is pulled together in the afternoon. The lead came about after talking drunkenly with Professor Phil Coates at the annual Plastics Industry Awards, held at the London Hilton on Park Lane, a couple of weeks ago. Professor Coates heads the CIC, which helps the polymer industry to become more innovative.

And, the theory goes, a more innovative polymer industry will lead to a more robust manufacturing base.

PRW: industry news since 1964


I’m late, thanks to the LondonCroydon train service, which puts me behind for the day. Technology Zone is usually on the production editor’s desk by 9.30am. I hurriedly finish the page with a story about a plastic sheet coating.

I’m also behind on the news hunt.

At the 2pm news meeting I have no lead stories. There are a few fillers – pictures of the Athens stadium roof, with clear polycarbonate panels in place, are promised; a campaign for plastic glasses in Taunton late night venues; and a rubber dome to cover tennis courts at the Edgbaston Priory.

Technology Zone is proofed by the end of the day. I finish Tomorrow’s World, before following up on the Edgbaston Priory dome with the architect and Birmingham Council.

I panic about the lead for next week’s Technology Zone – there’s no real contender and I need to arrange interviews.


Hot! Hot! Hot! I should have stayed on the train to Brighton, but make do with distant views of the Surrey hills – we’re on the 19th floor.

It is a frustrating day all round.

Stories don’t come together. I get blown out for the Olympic Stadium pictures – again. They are promised by the end of the week.

I talk to a Taunton Times reporter – the newspaper is backing the plastic glasses campaign – but the Taunton MP doesn’t return my call and I can’t find the appropriate person in Avon and Somerset Constabulary. The dome manufacturer is terse, although I am promised pictures.


Wednesday – we go to press at 5pm. And today I love my job. The stories are working and I’ve written all I need to for the issue by 11am.

The tennis dome got spiked – poor quality pictures. But the shatterproof glass campaign makes a good story. I get an interview with Taunton Police – and am even able to help. They want to know if other forces have run similar campaigns. I put them in touch with Strathclyde Police, which ran a shatterproof campaign last year.

Model citizen.

I reel off a dot.com story before hunting for next week’s Technology Zone lead. I find two potential stories; both are outstanding by the end of the day. However, I have a back-up plan… The issue is put to bed at 4.45pm.


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