Working Week: Ed Campbell - Press Gazette

Working Week: Ed Campbell

Wednesday 02.05.2007

Head in to work determined to sit out of meetings and work solely on our coverage of Blair's departure. As I start working on Blair I get diverted – it looks like the News of the World is doing an interview with the cleared fertiliser plotter Nabeel Hussain who ITV News has also put a bid in for. In the end Sky gets it with a much bigger offer – it's just not worth that much.

I finally manage to start on Blair planning at 11.30am. The good news is that it looks like I have factored in enough people, cameras and trucks to fulfil our needs. BBC and Sky have agreed to a three-camera pool OB at Downing Street, which makes life easier for everyone.

Number 10 is saying they want Blair to make the announcement at an "iconic London location" though they won't say where, so we need to keep a rapid reaction force on standby.

Also, Sedgefield is now looking like a more significant location than we first thought.

At 2pm I have a meeting with the editorial team on "Blair Day" packages, followed by one with the Westminster team on BD assignments and a 4pm meeting with the ITN technical team on BD trucks, lives, links and lines and other technical matters.

I decide to pull live presenting from Stormont on Tuesday.

I'm pretty confident Blair Day is on Thursday but it's still too risky to have key people off base on Wednesday morning.

Thursday 03.05.2007

It's a pretty good day although the news agenda is sluggish. Sky is running its interview with Nabeel Hussain. The interview was definitely not worth what they paid.

Thursday is always dominated by a weekly planning meeting which always starts late and goes on for ever. There are two main stories for us – Northern Ireland resumes power sharing and the Blair resignation. I manage to make it through the meeting with coverage plans for both more or less intact.

Friday 04.05.2007

Early results are showing Labour has taken losses, though not as bad as predicted.

This is, of course, the old trick of predicting worse losses than you expect, and then claiming victory because it's not as bad as people have been saying.

Scotland's results are still in the balance, though the best story at the moment looks like thousands of spoiled ballots like the old hanging chads in Florida.

A much better story is the three-year-old girl possibly abducted in Portugal. The family are from Leicestershire, with some also in Scotland.

The Blair planning is now getting quite fiddly. There are lots of nagging doubts about the detail, although the broader strategy is in place. Scotland results and the subsequent horse trading looks like it's dragging into the weekend, so I arrange extra cover.

At the weekend planning meeting we need to make sure we have adequate cover for the Madeleine story over the bank holiday Monday. It looks like we'll be saved by the Queen on her visit in the US and the French election results; there's plenty of material around.

Monday 07.05.2007

The British girl Madeleine has been missing all weekend. This is developing into a massive story so the foreign desk is sending more resources out to Portugal.

I tie down our plans for Blair Day from my kitchen table at home. I'm finally happy with how it all looks.

Tuesday 08.05.2007

The Blair plan changes about eight times today. Everyone "in the know" is giving a different version of events. The main agenda meeting keeps being interrupted by a fire alarm. We attempt to hide but that doesn't work and we adjourn to a nearby café.

We now think there is no iconic London location and Sedgefield definitely is the place to be, so we assign huge (by our standards anyway) resources to cover. At least Thursday now looks like a definite. Some packages are still not edited, though everything has been shot, thank God.

Late afternoon everything changes completely as Downing Street sources now claim the main event will be in Downing Street, not Sedgefield. I decide to work on a plan to present from both locations – that way we'll surely be in the right place. Word from Number 10 is that Blair still hasn't made up his mind about where to do his speech, which seems odd.

I'm delighted with our Northern Ireland coverage on the ITV Evening News – especially with two excellent pre-shot pieces from our correspondents Bill Neely and Neil Connery. I don't leave until 9pm, with a flexible plan which I fully expect us to rip up and rewrite tomorrow.

Wednesday 09.05.2007

There were another four arrests in Operation Theseus – the 7/7 investigation – including the widow and brother-in-law of Mohammed Sidique Khan, one of the 7/7 bombers. We know already that this phase of arrests is a sweep-up of people who are of secondary interest to the police, so it's a good story but not a top one.

There's still no sign of Madeleine but several interesting lines are emerging. Whatever the competence of the investigation, they are clearly not prepared for the onslaught of Her Majesty's press.

The Blair departure at last is definitely Sedgefield, so it's finally possible to put everything in place. By the time I brief all teams mid-afternoon everything is more or less ready.

The biggest headache now looks like presenting the bulletin from Downing Street.

There are already 17 camera crews plus snappers there at 3pm today, so if we don't hang on to our little patch of space we are screwed – and even then making it look and sound decent will be very tough.

Our best asset is Blair's former spinmeister, Alastair Campbell, who has agreed to an in-depth interview with ITV News for the first hour we're on air – ITV will clear the schedule for a news special. We are now as ready as we'll ever be, which is a relief. I'm not sure I could stand another day of tinkering with plans.

One thing you should know

The more you plan for something the less you'll want it on the day. It's an unwritten rule. Unfortunately it's not possible to get round this by just not planning.

How I got here

  • 1994 Clark TV, researcher
  • 1995 Border TV, news assistant
  • 1995-97 Westcountry TV, production journalist, reporter
  • 1997-2000 BBC News, broadcast journalist
  • 2000 The Money Channel, reporter
  • 2000 APTN, output editor, intake editor
  • 2005 ITV News, foreign editor
  • May 2007 ITV News, head of home news