My Week: Hugh Westbrook

Monday, 15 October

It’s Monday morning, it’s 9am, it’s Technofile! Our weekly technology show is one of the core activities of Sky News Online’s new multi-media unit. Ruth, Emily and I also produce interactive graphics and contribute to the new nightly news strand, News.

Our interactive graphics work has always particularly interested me, because it’s the only aspect of what we do which cannot be replicated by any other journalistic medium.

Menzies Campbell was not the only person whose plans changed when Gordon Brown decided not to call an election. We were able to put our ‘If I were prime minister’game live despite the decision. But we were also ready with an interactive campaign map, so I go to a meeting to tie up some loose ends and to help plan some new projects building on the work.

Ruth and I then plan this week’s Technofile filming – we are focusing on gadgets for girls, and the day rapidly takes on a Christmas feel as a string of packages arrives. I decide that pink phones don’t really suit me.

Tuesday, 16 October News is on air from Tuesday to Friday at 7.30pm and online at Emily is working on it this week.

The programme looks at what’s hot on our website as well as around the web, and she needs to choose a range of popular videos, as well as booking guests and providing supporting pages for the website.

More packages arrive and Ruth enthusiastically unwraps them before taking their contents to far-flung corners of the Sky News Centre for filming. We interview the marketing manager for a couple of pairs of Bluetooth headsets. She tells us she has no experience in front of a camera – and then rattles off a perfect interview in one take.

I also research the material for an interactive guide to the upcoming Australian elections and pass it to our designer, Mel, to work on.

Wednesday, 17 October

A hectic day. Because we are focusing on gadgets for girls, we have decided that Martin Stanford should step aside on Technofile for the day, for weather presenter Lisa Burke.

Lisa has agreed to film her links before she goes on air at 10am, so for a couple of hours from eight o’clock she records everything we need – she is even game enough to try out an electronic spot remover, despite my embarrassment at having to ask her.

Ruth has gone into town to secure an interview with Girls Aloud, who are launching a Samsung purple phone for women. She ignores an unhealthy interest in their new hairstyles from colleagues on her return and turns out a good story about them and MySpace, which proves popular online. The Technofile material was also worth getting.

After filming, I go to the Sky News office in Millbank to meet Michael Thrasher, Sky’s election expert, and Miranda, the editor of our politics section. Part of our elections legacy is a simple graphic for looking at opinion polls. We now have the chance to do something more exciting with it. The results of our discussions will be online soon – worth waiting for.

Back at Sky, Emily is having trouble writing tasteful captions for a popular web story about an Australian anti-speeding campaign, which focuses, bluntly, on penis size. ‘Size matters: the big campaign down under’eventually emerges as the best suggestion we can actually use.

Thursday, 18 October

Ruth spends the morning with a video editor, putting next week’s Technofile together.

I spend some time with Sabina, another graphics developer, going over how we want to adapt the polls graphic. It now needs to work in a much more sophisticated fashion than before, so I leave her ensconced in her headphones to solve the complexities involved.

With this week’s Technofile as good as finished, we plan the next ones. Both are a departure from our recent working practice – next week, Martin and Emily will be in Korea and will be sending material to London for me to work with, while the following weekend we will film at the Stuff gadgets show in London.

We review Technofile and decide on a few tweaks to make more of our marketing manager’s star turn.

Friday, 19 October

Mel has finished the Australia graphic, so I’m able to review it and put it up on the website. I leave Sabina and her headphones alone.

I spend an hour in the edit suites finishing Technofile, and then get it ready for Monday morning. One of the top stories being looked at on News tonight involves a picture of a revolving woman. Emily asks me to look at it to tell her which way it is spinning. I confidently tell her it is anti-clockwise. She confidently says it’s clockwise. When I look again, it appears to be clockwise. I’m not sure that this electronic trickery proves anything, other than I need to go home for the weekend.

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