What a rapidly changing industry! Less than 10 years ago a regional weekly newspaper hack could go out into that week armed with a clutch of £20 notes to tour the local drinking establishments in the hope of first wetting then loosening the tongues of potential 'snouts' (informants) wishing to spill the beans on the high and mighty. The following morning the sozzled hack would awake in the vague recollection of extracting a great 'scoop' from contacts he had befriended that day. Then, squinting through the foggy hungover haze into the contents of his shorthand notebook, the squiggles would emerge into words like invisible ink to refresh his memory of the story. At the end of the week on press day, the story having made the front page, the hack would return to the pub with his colleagues to share in the success of the scoop. Yes, how times change! The reality today is vastly more desk-bound duties (and little, if any booze on expenses), with stories received from public relations departments of huge companies, celebrities or sports stars via emails and the odd telephone call. But if some of the art is still there, it remains an asset to have the gift of a great eye-catching headline or intro. But the onus, more than ever, is to bash out as many stories in as little time as possible, while retaining the accuracy (some critics call this 'Churnalism').
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