18 September 2008

Of blogs and MEN

It's amazing where they let you in these days upon the flashing of a press card - Manchester Evening News last night hosted a bash for local bloggers so naturally I gatecrashed. MEN has just moved into swanky new premises in the heart of the city, so new I could smell that odd aroma of brand-new electronics, like when you enter Comet.

And what else was that assailing my nostrils? Ah yes, the whiff of nostalgia. We toured the newsroom and I realised it was 17 years since I'd last worked full-time on a publication, in an office... It being after 6, the newsroom was fairly quiet with just a skeleton shift cracking on with things. The phones were eerily silent too. For a moment, I thought: - I could work here. Then I pictured the vast open-plan space crammed to full with bodies, shrieking telephones, shouted orders and bosses bearing down on me and reminded myself why I went freelance. Newsrooms have changed enormously since I trained. MEN's had a TV studio in one corner, for one thing. No running back and forth dozens of times to the typesetter on press day, like I used to, either.

After the tour, deputy editor Maria McGeoghan chaired an informal debate on blogging and the media, in which we had a lively discussion about the use of tools such as Twitter and how bloggers can drive the news agenda. Even Getting Ink, not a Manchester blog, got namechecked because of the trolling issue and how bloggers handle comments (and it wasn't me who raised it, honest!).

Then it was time for the goodie bags. Yes, goodie bags! We got Guardian Hay Festival cotton bags and a copy of the Manchester Evening News. No fancy MEN coffee mug then. I knew I should have swiped one off the subs' desk when I had the opportunity. Once we'd trousered the swag, it was off to the pub for a swift pint and a bit of networking with the other bloggers before it was time to bid farewell and get the train home. Must do it again sometime...

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