As is often the way, an opportunity presented itself at just the right time – a trainee position at the Spalding Guardian and Lincolnshire Free Press newspapers in my home town of Spalding, Lincs.
I was lucky (talented!) enough to get the position out of quite a few hopefuls and I was promptly sent off to the offices of the Peterborough Evening Telegraph where the then-EMAP diploma in journalism courses were based.
It was 20 week course, where trainees learned the basics of story structure, interview skills, court reporting and associated legal knowledge, as well as shorthand and the necessary skills to cover council meetings and turn any information into a readable, accurate story.
Afterwards followed two years of on-the-job training in Spalding, where I honed my skills and found a liking for the more “human interest” side of the job. You could keep your court and council stories – I was much more interested (and good at) talking to people, building a rapport and getting and telling their stories.
After qualifying in 1994, I moved to the Peterborough Evening Telegraph, and thrived in the fast-paced newsroom of a daily regional paper.
I soon bought a home in Peterborough and enjoyed the social side of the job with the close-knit news team and began to take on more responsibilities, including the title of health reporter.
A few years later the chance presented itself to join the sub-editing team, where I learned new proofreading, page design and editing skills, as well as the ability to write attention grabbing headlines.
I was one of the first to embrace the new worldwide web when The Evening Telegraph made a foray into its first website and around the turn of the millennium joined a newly-formed team as internet editor, rewriting newspaper content for the web and learning basic html and css.
The change of direction soon landed me a brief spell at EMAP, setting up websites for some of its golfing and walking magazine titles.
However, the job didn’t hold much appeal, particularly when the opportunity arose to return to the newsroom environment I loved as chief sub-editor of The Peterborough Evening Telegraph, leading a team of ten.
Management, leadership and responsibility were among the skills I quickly learned, as well as the ability to see the big picture while taking care of the small details which ensure a large daily newspaper goes to print on time with as few mistakes as possible!
There I stayed for more than four years, during which time I developed a passion for design, leading the weekly production of a magazine-style women’s supplement and other special features.
The work was all-consuming and the days were long and eventually I decided I needed to take a step back and when a writer/sub-editor role was advertised back in Spalding, it was time to move home.
As part of a smaller team I was involved in more design and editing work and was a key player in a number of organisational and system changes.
In 2008 I left to have my first daughter and did not return to work, back at the Spalding Guardian and Lincs Free Press in a part-time reporter role, until my second daughter was eight months old in September 2010.
DEPUTY NEWS EDITOR
The following January I returned to full time work as deputy news editor, helping the news editor to plan the weekly news content and manage a small team of reporters.
In autumn of 2011, news broke that redundancies were to be made and the news editor and myself were told we would most likely have to apply for one of a reduced number of reporter positions.
Neither of us were keen to do so, but we both also feared our options for other positions were limited, particularly as I was somewhat restricted by childcare arrangements which meant I was unable to travel far.
But a lunchtime “desperation” chat led to an inkling of an idea to start our own newspaper – and so the seeds of the Spalding and South Holland Voice were sown.
Since it started in April 2014, as well as the writing, page design and sub-editing, myself and my three co-directors had to learn about business – writing plans, forecasting financials, renting premises, payroll, PAYE, contracts, as well as sorting out printing, distribution and managing a team.
It has been a steep learning curve. Now the team totals 12, including two full time reporters, a receptionist and four sales staff, and my attention has turned to other ways of growing the business, including developing the parent company Rant Media, a design and marketing agency aimed at helping other small businesses write the next chapter in their success stories.
THE NEXT STEP…
As part of my role at the Voice and Rant Marketing, I have developed my skills in new areas, including advertising design, management, marketing and business development and am keen to share my knowledge to help other business owners find their voice and promote their products and services through my own Plan B Marketing company.
I am now looking forward to bringing other projects to fruition in the months and years ahead.