Press Cadets, Task Two: ITV Lunchtime News

AFTER THE GRUELLING day on the pavements of London for their first task, the remaining cadets were in for an altogether shorter, sharper shock this time.

Robin Elias, ITN's managing editor, wanted to test their current affairs knowledge and their news judgement under pressure, as well as their writing skills, and so had devised a 60-minute news editing test.

Of the eight left in the competition, Craig had pulled out, having decided to accept a three-week trial on the sportsdesk of a newspaper in the Northwest, which left seven assembled at ITN's Gray's Inn Road headquarters.

They were to be programme editors for the lunchtime news. Each was given that morning's news list of around 40 items, from which they were to decide the running order of ITV's 12.30pm bulletin.

Additionally, they had to mark the items they would "trail" as headlines later in the bulletin. They were also to write short introductions for the leading items, as well as decide on a live guest and formulate questions to be put to them by the presenter.

At the end of the hour, Elias returned and the cadets had to "sell" their running orders to him, explaining the rationale behind each decision.

Elias said: "I was impressed by the way they handled themselves, particularly since none of them had any broadcast journalism experience. They defended their decisions well, and had a good grasp of what was at the heart of most of these stories."

All except Tony opted to lead on the British Gas story — which was an ITN exclusive. In fact, the "real" lunchtime news led on the row following the decision to excuse a Muslim policeman from guarding London's Israeli embassy. The gas story was the fourth item on the lunchtime news, but it did lead that evening's 6.30pm bulletin. Although some of the cadets chose to cover the Pakistan earthquake a year on, none of them gave it as much prominence as it was given in the 12.30pm bulletin — ITV News had devoted a lot of resources to covering the anniversary.

Two breaking-news items that hadn't been on the cadets' newslist also made it into the bulletin.

When it came to choosing their studio guests, a couple of the cadets had suggested using spokespeople — a no-no for a national bulletin.

Some also lost marks for selecting the Condoleeza Rice story. Elias felt the cadets had included it as a "knee-jerk reaction" because they thought it was important, but he argued it was a "process story" — part of a long-running diplomatic story and not strong enough to be included.

Only Patrick went "off piste" by selecting an item for his programme that hadn't appeared on the original morning newslist, but was one he had picked up from the morning's tabloids — the story of Madonna wanting to adopt a Malawian orphan. Its legs since then vindicated that decision.

Elias marked the cadets using a system of a maximum of five marks in each of the five categories of the task. Debika topped the group with a creditable 19, with Rory just a point behind. Rachael was next on 17 and Tony, Patrick and Louise shared 16 points.

All of which meant that Sophia, with 13, was the cadet to be spiked this week.

So the last words go to Sophia and Craig: Sophia: "I found the ITN task incredibly challenging as TV is not an area of the media that I have been trained in, and I was disappointed not to have made it to the final six. However, being part of the Press Cadets competition has been a fantastic experience and I wish the remaining contestants the best of luck with the final two challenges."

Craig: "I wanted to carry on, but unfortunately, due to work commitments, I've had to leave. But I would advise anyone to get involved with the Press Cadets challenge. It is great fun, a good learning curve and something you will never forget!"


The extracts

Louise Cooper

Britain’s gas companies are seeking to charge an extra £180 million to householders, an industry
document can reveal. The unwelcome news comes after energy prices have risen by 90 per cent in the past three years. The firms responsible for piping the gas to homes across Britain are demanding more money, which is likely to cause anxiety to nergy customers.

Sophia Cottier

Gas prices are set for another dramatic increase, ITN can exclusively reveal. Bills have already shot up by 90 per cent over three years and now gas companies are looking to charge customers an extra £180 million. Chris Choi reports.

Rachael Gallagher

Energy prices in Britain are set for yet another rise as gas companies seek to charge customers an extra £180 million. We have exclusive access to documents revealing there's no end to the increase of the past three years that's seen bills go up by 90 per cent. With another winter looming, how much longer will some of Britain's households be able to afford to keep warm.

Rory Kinsella

Gas bills look set to rise again. As ITV News can exclusively reveal, gas companies are looking to hike prices by £180 million. This on top of revelations this week that a glut in supply has forced some companies to pay to offload surplus supplies. It all points to further increases to add to the 90 per cent rises passed on to customers in the last three years. Chris Choi has this report…

Debika Ray

British gas companies are seeking to charge customers £180 million extra this year according to industry documents released exclusively to ITN.

The documents reveal that this planned further rise in energy prices follows the 90 per cent increase in bills in the last three years. Chris Choi reports on the escalating energy prices that are causing anxiety to households across Britain.

Patrick Smith

It's bad news for British energy customers. Despite gas bills rising by 90 per cent over the last three years, causing anxiety to thousands, ITV reveals today that gas companies intend to raise prices even higher. We have had exclusive access to industry documents that say gas companies will charge £180 million.

Tony Wright

Funerals for four of the five Amish girls murdered in their school have begun. The procession's route has passed the home in which the killer lived.

The devastated and stunned Amish community continue to mourn as the media circus, which was brought upon their simple way of life, comes to an end.

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