Meet the people who make Norwich's Evening News
Archant © 2011
Today we look at the people behind the newspaper - the reporters and columnists.
The Evening News is changing the time it prints. The changes start next week, but all this week we are exploring why the change is happening. Today we look at the people behind the newspaper – the reporters and columnists.
Derek James, joint features editor and columnist:
“Thank you – for taking the time to read this because if it wasn’t for you, we wouldn’t be here.
“We are here to serve you, the people who buy the Evening News week in and week out.
“Our relationship is the reason why I love my job. I am working in what I consider to be the finest city in the finest county in the land –and it doesn’t get much better than that.
“For the last quarter of a century I have written “your” page in the Evening News – reflecting your interests in the city and county.
“It may have my name on the top, but it is about YOU. You are the people who matter.
“Every day someone will get in touch about a story which they think I will be interested in. If you find it interesting, then it will interest me.
“It may reflect the past, the present, or look to the future.
“I grew up in Norfolk and I grew up visiting Norwich. I remember the 1950s and 1960s when Norwich was a very different place. Back then a visit to the old milk bar on Prince of Wales Road was a highlight of the week and you could “hire” a tie from the doorman to get into the Samson & Hercules.
“We have seen so many changes over the decades, some good, some not so good, which have taken place over the past half a century or more.
“My love for all things Norwich is passionate. I want the best for our city and my Evening News is your Evening News. It is my duty and my pleasure to write about the people and places which interest you.
“And you never let me down. I am forever in your debt for keeping me supplied with a constant stream of stories and photographs looking at the way we were and the way we are.
“This year has been a very special one for myself and my family.
“It has been an extraordinary and unexpected honour to represent you as Sheriff of Norwich. A role going back hundreds of years.
“This has given me the opportunity to meet some amazing people and they are the reason why Norwich is such a special place.
“I have a lot to thank you for.”
Stacia Briggs, columnist:
“My career with Archant began 17 years ago when I told the interviewing panel that they would be “mad” not to give me a job. Ignoring this blatant lie, I was taken on and spent my first year as a cub reporter for the Eastern Daily Press in Lowestoft.
“I was then moved on to the Evening News – I like to say I was head-hunted because it sounds more glamorous – where I quickly became chief reporter on the newsdesk.
“Equally swiftly, I got pregnant and realised that getting into the office at 6am when I’d been up half the night with a baby wasn’t the best way to ensure level-headed accuracy in a newspaper.
“I joined the features desk and in 1999 was given my own weekly column by my then-editor who said: “I listen to you moaning and complaining outside my office all day – write it down and let’s share the pain around a bit.”
“Within a year, I had won UK Columnist of the Year, a title I’ve now won three times and currently hold.
“I’ve also won Feature Writer of the Year on several occasions, in fact it might be easier to list the awards I haven’t won, which include Sports Photographer of the Year and Best Weekly Title Circulation below 40,000 (although I’m working on both).
“Today, I write features, columns, news and I run the Evening News’ Twitter feed, @eveningnews. It’s the best Twitter feed of any regional newspaper if I say so myself, and I do.
“I love the Evening News with a passion.
“It’s lively, informative, loves Norwich as much as I do and it’s got me in it. You’d be mad not to read it.”
David Cuffley, sports correspondent:
“My earliest memory of the Evening News, as a child, is of my grandmother in Great Yarmouth having the paper delivered every afternoon at about 4.30pm.
“It was a broadsheet newspaper at the time – and, needless to say, I turned straight to the back page for the sports news.
“I joined Archant, then Eastern Counties Newspapers, in 1979 and part of my early career was spent as a junior reporter, then a feature writer on the Evening News.
“But I moved to the sports desk in the summer of 1985 and those 25 years have included two spells covering Norwich City and 11 years as Evening News sports editor.
“It has been a rollercoaster ride for the Canaries, from the heights of a top three place in the FA Premier League and competing in the UEFA Cup, to languishing in the lower reaches of League One at the start of last season.
“The current team’s success is very exciting, even for someone lucky enough to have reported on three City victories at Old Trafford over Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United – imagine that happening now.
“Not since the mid-1970s have the Canaries consistently attracted the kind of home crowds and atmosphere we are currently experiencing.
“I believe the Evening News still has a vital role to play in providing an independent view of events at Carrow Road, on and off the field, at a time when football clubs are more sensitive than ever before about what is said and written about them.”
Ben Kendall, crime correspondent.
“I am the Evening News’ crime correspondent, reporting on everything from major investigations and murder trials to the politics of policing.
“My job varies hugely: one day I could be on the beat with a local bobby, the next interviewing top brass or trying to establish the facts behind a high profile police operation.
“Over the years I have joined officers on drugs raids, taken a closer look at police tactics and got to know people who have tragically been caught up in crime.
“Sometimes the crime brief can be emotionally draining, but the reward of knowing, for example, that you have helped a bereaved relative pay tribute to a loved one, can be huge.
“Ultimately my job is about getting to know people – whether they’re high-profile individuals or members of the public who are thrown into the public eye – and telling their story in a clear, fair and engaging way.
“One memory which sticks out is talking to sex workers about their safety concerns when Norwich man Steve Wright, who killed five women in Ipswich, was on the loose. This was a case which challenged my pre-conceptions – and hopefully changed views more widely. As well as covering crime, I’m also interested in defence issues and have travelled to Afghanistan and the Middle East to report on the activities of our troops in those regions.
“Originally from Sheffield, I moved to Norwich seven years ago and I love the city.
“I genuinely believe that local journalists have a role to play in promoting the area and helping people understand what is going on around them.”
Dan Grimmer, local government reporter.
“As a Norwich boy, I’m enormously proud to write for the Evening News. I used to deliver it as a kid and I never would have imagined I’d end up writing for it.
“My teenage self would have been even more surprised to learn I’d end up writing stories about politics, as it was a subject which bored me to tears when I was young. But I realise now that it’s the politicians who make key decisions which have such a massive impact on the lives of the people who live in the city I love.
“I’ve been back in Norwich on the Evening News for almost a decade now and I still relish the chance to hold the politicians to account.
“It’s always nice, after wading through reams of council agendas, to spot a nugget the councils might be hoping you don’t spot.
“It’s not the most glamorous job in journalism, that’s for sure, and at 10.30pm on a Tuesday night, having missed another Norwich City last minute winner because the match clashed with a city council meeting, I do envy some of my colleagues!
“But I genuinely think that if the Evening News did not cover the city council’s meetings, nobody else would. Yet the halls of power are where important decisions are made which affect each and every one of us.
“A healthy, campaigning newspaper can help ignite debate about what councils are up to and we can let those decision makers know what the electorate think of their actions.
“You only have to look at the Evening News letters page to see how passionate our readers are about politics and politicians – and I know most of the city councillors pay attention to what you say!”
Kim Briscoe, health reporter.
“It is easy to take good health for granted. When you do fall ill, it can have a massive impact on your life and on your family too. And getting good healthcare and treatment really can mean the difference between life and death. We’re very lucky to have the National Health Service and the Evening News is proud to be able to tell its readers about some of the amazing success stories involving staff and patients in our city.
“From nursing teams winning awards for their outstanding work, to patients who have survived against all the odds, we love to hear from our readers about the help they have received in overcoming or managing their illness. I have been a journalist for eight years – on the Evening News for almost five – and I find writing about health truly fascinating. I’m often stunned by the commitment I see from healthcare professionals and humbled by the way patients cope in very difficult circumstances with great dignity.”
David Powles, Norwich City columnist.
“Having supported Norwich City all my life it is an absolute dream to have the chance to write every Thursday about a subject I feel so passionately about.
“I have been writing the column for the past three years and it has certainly been an interesting time to comment on the goings-on at Carrow Road. There have been relegations and promotions, hiring and firing of managers and all manner of other dramas.
“We are in an era where pretty much anyone can make a comment on what happens within football clubs.
“Message boards, blogs and fan websites have presented even more people with the chance to have their say.
“That presents quite a challenge in terms of writing a weekly column to go in a newspaper. Often the most recent game is a few days old and has already been analysed to death.
“I always, however, try to find a subject matter that is new and fresh. Whether it is through analysing stats or looking for a unique talking point, it’s always my intention to give readers something new to think about.
“If they are reading my column and then talking about that subject with fellow Norwich fans at the pub or the next game, then I know I have done my job.”