It was the Monday before New Year, I just got up and sat in my jimjams on the couch having my first morning cuppa and watching the brandnew Wallace and Gromit bakery murder mystery: “A matter of Loaf and Death” when the door bell rang.
intercom: “Hello here is the photographer from the press agency.”
intercom: “I am here to take a picture of the worms”
Anyways, as there is no use having debates on the doorbell system I buzzed her in. Neglected to mention that there is a lift, with the hope of throwing myself into clothes quick enough whilst the photographer climbed lots of stairs. With Press Agency, I thought of the more reputable PA – Press Association, which has a small office in Edinburgh not far from where I live. And with the worms I had an idea it would be connected to the recent story in the Edinburgh Evening News about Worm composting.
However, I was not quite prepared for what was coming next.
My flat still looked a mess as it was just after Christmas and I came straight back from a family visit to work the weekend. This was about my first spare time I had in about a week or so and now I had an unannounced press photographer in my rather chaotic flat. Anyways, the photographer told me that she was just following orders and that the journalist had sent her.
First I got onto the telephone to talk to the journalist to tell her off for not making an appointment with me. It turned out, that it wasn’t in fact the more reputable PA but a small company called “Capital Press”, part of Harde Edge Media. The journalist was rather aggressive, not even understanding the issue of phoning before sending a photographer as an intrusion of privacy. She insisted on doing the story for the Sun, the Daily Express and the Daily Mail. Alarm bells were going off at the back of my head, as all three tabloids are famous of hostile, conservative, hierarchy-supporting, aggressive reporting towards any progressive, grassroot-led and creative initiatives. Despite me trying to negotiate with her to try to aim the coverage at more reputable newsoutlets, she insisted on the tabloids, interrupting me all the time and I rather felt as if I was investigated for some really heavy stuff like murdering someone instead of talking about the coverage on composting with earthworms. During all my journalist education, which I was never more happy than during this telephone call to have had, I never ever came across something like that. For the first time journalism felt like a very capitalist profession – me sitting on information, trying to protect our composting project from being abused as a national joke in some crazy cynical tabloids and my reputation being trashed vs. the journalist who knew she and the press agency would loose hundreds of pounds of income if I refused to participate.
In the end, I did refuse to get my picture taken or to give any quotes.
However, there was an article appearing in the next day’s Daily Mail about the worm composting – basically stating the area where I lived would be full of unemployed drug-users and the small grant we received of two thousand pounds would be a waste of tax payers money. They also quoted me extensively – they must have taken the quotes out of the Edinburgh Evening News article.
Luckily there weren’t any article neither in the Sun nor in the Daily Express. The article did not appear on the internet – thank God!!!! – and the byline was crediting the Daily Mail’s home affair correspondent.
I would be rather curious to know how the original Capital Press article was written, if at all, and how it was modified – if all that negative crap was added by the Home Affairs Correspondent or not. Anyways, as my quotes were taken from the positive Edinburgh Evening News, I sounded quite naively happy, chirpy, enthusiastic and positive in the article, totally clashing with the disapproving spokesperson from the National Alliance of Taxpayers or something.