Week one of reporting: Highs and lows

Week One of the next chapter in my career is over, and as I look back over it, it is easy to see the highs and lows.

Let’s start with the highs. On Wednesday I went to Southwark to investigate a story about a housing block which for the last ten months has had a very limited postal service due to a row between a post officer and a resident who allegedly attacked him. Since October, Royal Mail has provided a delivery service three days a week, insisting that their worker is accompanied by local councillor Maria Linforth-Hall. My piece went out on Friday morning. Hours later I learnt that Royal Mail was to reinstate a full six-day service from Monday. I had a lovely email from Cllr Linforth-Hall thanking me on behalf of the residents of Rowland Hill House for my coverage of the story. A nice end to the week.

There was also winning an award for ‘Newsreader of the year’ at the IRN awards, a fitting way to round off my newsreading career (for now).

And of course, going live with Nick Ferrari is a thrill. Nick is a radio genius who I’ve listened to for years. To become a small part of his show is an absolute honour, and I’m looking forward to building an on-air relationship.

But there have been some, albeit minor, bad moments where things just haven’t gone to plan. It started on Monday morning when I’d gone to find a nursery to speak to mums about a story to do with stop and searches on under fives. The nursery I’d earmarked to go to was no longere there, and was now a printing shop. I arrived at 7.20, needing to speak to people in advance to go on air at 7.50. Mad rush, had to jump in a taxi, find another nursery about a mile away, which didn’t open ’til 8am. Plus it was raining. With no one to speak to, and five minutes to go before I was due on air, I didn’t know what I was going to do. Luckily the manager of the nursery came out, and I managed to convince her to speak to me very quickly. Panic over.

The next manic moment was Wednesday when my cab to take me to Twickenham didn’t turn up. The cab company insisted it didn’t have the booking, so I had to drive to southwest London instead.

Finding people to speak to on the streets at 6am is incredibly difficult. Especially when you are tasked with voxing a specific ‘type’ of people. On Wednesday it was pensioners in Twickenham, and Thursday it was ‘Aldi mums’ in Finchley, all on the subject of the budget. Nobody wants to stop and speak at 6am. They’re tired, on their way to work, and the last thing they want to do is speak to muggins here who’s shoved a microphone in their face. Hopefully I’ll get better at convincing people to speak to me!

Overall though, I’m very happy in my new role and am looking forward to the challenges ahead. It’s going to be tough; we’re fast approaching the election and I’m entering the final five weeks of training for the London Marathon. But bring it on.

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A rollercoaster of emotions in Paris

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I’m sitting in a Cuban bar in Paris, after three days of terror in France. I’m wearing the same trousers I’ve had on since Wednesday, and my boots are covered in mud from today’s reporting scene in Dammartin-en-Goële.

On Wednesday morning I went for an MRI scan in hospital in London. Three hours later I’d been dispatched to Paris by my editor, as news was unfolding of 12 people shot dead by Islamist terrorists at the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. I’d packed an overnight bag…it turned out to be a longer stay than first planned.

The last three days have been stressful, exhausting, tough and extremely emotional. Having not really done much field reporting in my career so far, I’ve had little experience of immersing myself in a story to this extent and being ‘on the scene’ for so long, let alone on a news event of this global magnitude and significance.

When you’re on a roundabout in the middle of nowhere and the news desk is calling you to do live pieces, reports for various different stations and extended news features within the space of 20 minutes, and all you have is an iPhone and a rucksack with limited supplies, you can sometimes wonder whether it’s all worth it. You miss your family, your girlfriend, someone to talk to. Despite being such a fast moving situation and the adrenaline keeping you going, it can be a lonely place.

I cried when I came off air on Thursday having described the tributes left at the Charlie Hebdo office. I was devastated.

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I’m due to go home tomorrow afternoon. I’m shattered – physically and emotionally.

Despite all this, it has been an honour to report for LBC during these dark, horrific last few days for Paris and France. I have learnt a lot about myself and what I want to do with the rest of my career.

My thoughts are with the French people tonight as they can finally begin to mourn the victims of terror. I can’t wait to get home and hug my loved ones.

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