What's news in Winklebury?;TES Comeptition;10th TES Newspaper Day contest

13th March 1998 at 00:00
This week schools produced their entries for the 10th TES Newspaper Day contest. Nicolas Barnard sat in on one press day

9am In editors' offices around the country, news meetings are taking place, the agendas of the day thrashed out, angles explored and jobs assigned.

John Prescott's vendetta claims, the BSE public inquiry, Gazza's transfer - all are weighed up for tonight's papers.

The Winklebury Local is no different. The hardened 10 and 11-year-old hacks of Winklebury Junior's Year 6 have already scanned the day's nationals as they arrive in their Basingstoke newsroom. Now chief editor Lee Argent and sub-editors Ruth Adams and Paul Rickman are dishing out assignments.

"CJD is going to be the front," Ruth confidently predicts. "It's the most interesting story. It's about the girl who came back from holiday and that's when her CJD started. She'd been a vegetarian since she was 13."

Paul has his eye on the back page and super-middleweight boxing champ Dean Francis - a local hero to pupils and victor in a weekend bout. "He's from Basingstoke and people want to know about it," Paul says. "It's something that's happening in the area."

The Winklebury Local has won distinctions three years running in TES Newspaper Day. This year more than 600 schools are producing papers in a single day, packed with local, national and international news, features, sport, listings and everything else readers expect from a daily.

Some stories have been worked up by Local reporters themselves. Most come from the wires and national and local papers, knocked into shape by Year 6.

9.40am There's a buzz in the newsroom more industrious than on most papers this far from deadline.

Breaking stories from the BBC News website are flying over by fax from Newspaper Day central - the death of Hollywood actor Lloyd Bridges is all over the news bulletins and must be found space.

In the subbing suite (the row of Acorn computers in the corridor) copy is already being typed up while the graphics team shoots about finding the right pictures for the stories of the day.

Emma Burgess is inputting a story Robert Betterton filed overnight - a tale of reckless folly, human drama and a vicious vindaloo.

"It's about a man who ate a vindaloo in Leicester and started hiccuping," Robert says.

"His friends thought it was a joke but after a few minutes he became concerned. He had a drink of water and they seemed to stop. . . then he had another curry.

"He got the hiccups again - one every four seconds for 14 days."

10.30am Ruth, Paul and Lee confer with teacher Martin Webster. A copy bottleneck threatens - too many stories in notebooks, not enough computers.

Priorities are set - Lloyd Bridges' death and a chunky interview with ITN newsreader Dermot Murnaghan need to be set soon.

Paul has solved a production problem - Acorn screens are too hard to read in 12-point. "I've told them to write in 16 then change to 12," he reports.

10.40am Paul is after Kerry Joslin for a top political story of Hampshire Tory MP and farmer Michael Colvin, accused of polluting his neighbour's drinking water with 200,000 gallons of slurry. "I'm going to tell her to hurry up," he says.

But Kerry shows admirable contempt for sub-editors. "What? I haven't done it - I'm doing the interview with Dermot," she says witheringly, proving she's perfect for the showbiz beat.

It's Kerry Taplin who has the story. She also shows an impressive lack of urgency. The sub-editors can wait.

11.10am The advertising team is hard at work despite a downturn in sales - due to the Local's commendable staff development programme which has distracted them from their core business.

"They've got SATs coming up so they haven't been able to prepare as much as they normally do," Mr Webster confesses.

11.25am Multi-skilled Katie Elliott has written the splash story for page 1 and is now looking for two good down-page stories.

"We're looking for something totally different from the main story - but they have to be interesting so people will read the paper," she says.

11.45am Melissa Gowers is creating the graphics for her millennium survey of fellow pupils - a compulsory Newspaper Day item.

Drug abuse worries children most, with homelessness close behind.

Midday Lunchtime. Local proprietor and Winklebury head Eddie Izzard has sensibly ruled local pub, The Winkle, off-limits to thirsty hacks.

1pm Izzard is a hands-off proprietor. No editorial interference here - he leaves that to Mr Webster.

But he's proud of The Local's success. Winklebury is not posh Hampshire. It's in the middle of a council estate.

"When they write, there's an earthiness about it," he says. "This is the icing on the cake for all the skills they've been learning. They can see they've got a real and practical application, and that's what education is for. It's not something done in a bubble."

1.25pm There still aren't enough computers. Pressure is mounting: "I'm having to push people round a bit," Lee says. "Most of the important stories are done - we're just looking for shorter stuff."

2.05pm The pages are filling up - CJD and a gay adoption row on the front, Diana's charities on page 2 and a busy mix of hard news on page 3, including a cocaine death and cliff plunge.

It's looking good, but the TV page is short of pictures.

2.40pm A rogue picture has appeared on the TV page with no caption. Who is the mystery chef? 2.50pm Deadline - any late copy is ruthlessly spiked. Lee, Ruth and Paul begin paste-up - the Local has yet to gain full-page make-up on screen.

3.10pm Catastrophe - page 4 has been pasted up wrong.

3.25pm It's all over. The paper is pasted up and ready for the press.

And missing apostrophes and spelling mistakes notwithstanding - nothing the seasoned newspaper reader can't handle - it looks a good read.

Lee pays tribute to his team. "It's been hard and tiring, but I think this paper's good."

All the winners

Entries from 630 schools, including 30 from overseas will be judged in the coming weeks. Prizes of either an Apple Macintosh Performa or an Acorn Risc PC will be presented by Cherie Booth QC at the House of Commons on June 1

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