Are you a journalist?  Have you ever known or worked with journalists?

Then I need your help.

My sixth book this year is about the staff of a recently shut down local newspaper deciding to start up a zeitgeisty current affairs stroke gossip website, probably called something like ‘Michty!’ (the genre for this one is Scottish), and getting it terribly wrong.  With hilarious consequences, of course.

I am hoping to gather some anecdotal research, which is where you come in.

My team of journos will be slightly mismatched, naturally, and will very likely hate one another (but not all the time).  They work hard, drink more than they probably ought to, and are a little bit socially dysfunctional.

I am thinking along the lines of having a team of four, and I’m not sure how they’re being funded. Lottery grant?  Eccentric millionaire?  We shall see.  In my mind’s eye the team consists of:

  • A veteran local (rural?) reporter, who also takes terrible photographs, captions them with the wrong names, and has a penchant for terrible puns.  He seems quite cheerful and docile, but is actually struggling.
  • A control freak editor who can be very charming and lovely, but is also something of a bastard and has been married several times.  Well connected, but they’re probably the wrong connections for this particular project.  Trying to make it work cause it seems to be the way things are going in journalism, but really not that interested in new tech and stuff – always wanted to be a political editor, really.
  • A career woman who has a chip on her shoulder about being the only female, and sees herself as easily the most talented person there.  To be fair to her, she probably is.  But there’s a fine line between being confident and being a cow about it…  She is occasionally very funny and dry.
  • Work experience guy, hard working, enthusiastic and talented, doing a journalism course which has given him some quite set views of how things are.  A bit naive to start with, but has come on leaps and bounds by the end.

So, what do I want from you?

I’d like to know about editor/hack relationships; work experience stories; newsroom relationships and grudges and bonds.

I’d like to know about accepted wisdoms in the industry, ie what the future of journalism is likely to be, what the best training is, and what makes you a good hack.

I’m interested to know how gender politics have developed and changed, and how they apply in different areas of the industry.

And of course I want funny, outlandish and ridiculous tales of things that have happened to you in your time as a hack.  Interviews that have gone wrong, stories that have proved farcical, jokes gone awry…  Anything to help me create an accurate depiction of the trials and tribulations of the job.

If you’re up for helping, please drop me a comment or email at your earliest convenience.  As I’m sure you can appreciate, I’m on a tight deadline!