The changing face of reporting the news

Telegraph & Star interior'Newsroom Sheffield Newspapers
Telegraph & Star interior'Newsroom Sheffield Newspapers
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Striking matches to read notes at night, unrestricted access to politicians and the search for public phones ... the way The Star is produced has certainly changed over the decades.

In the last few weeks we have redesigned both The Star and – just the latest changes in 126 years of bringing news to the people of Sheffield.

Our reporters can now produce their own videos, record audio, take photos, and communicate with readers at the touch of a button via the internet but all that is a far cry from journalism of the past.

We are celebrating Local Newspaper Week but taking a look back at how things have changed.

One thing that has always remained the same though, is our commitment to speaking up for the people of Sheffield and questioning those in authority. It is changes in how we gather news and its journey from our notepads to your newspaper that is remarkable.

Keith Farnsworth, former Telegraph Sports Editor, began his career in 1963: “I started in the era of manual typewriters – you had to fight to get one that wasn’t broken at certain times during the day when the editorial staffs of both the Telegraph and Star were in the office.

“Out on jobs you had to search for a public telephone and then dictate your story to a copytaker which, of course, was time-consuming and the copytaker didn’t always take down what you said, often mis-hearing words and sometimes creating great amusement and embarrassment.

“When covering football matches, dictating copy over the phone from grounds was often only half the problem: at away games you had to hire a phone and at certain grounds you had to wait in a queue to use a phone.

“Many was the time when, dictating my match report late at night, all the lights in the ground would be switched off and I’d end up striking a succession of matches to be able to read my notes.”

Stuart Machin launched his 46-year career with Sheffield Newspapers on a six-month probation at £2 a week. “The reporting team, some 15-strong, contained only two women. We accompanied reporters on all kinds of jobs, such as courts inquests and council lobbying.

“During the 1951 general election I was sent to cover a campaign meeting staged by the Labour candidate, Sir Frank Soskice, who was the Solicitor General in the Attlee Government.

“I was welcomed warmly and Sir Frank gave this raw junior hound a lift back to the office. Not a minder in sight.”

Peter Markie, joined The Star in December, 1963, as a sports sub-reporter and was later assistant editor of The Star.

Peter initially took his place at the bottom of the batting order on The Star sports desk: “Most of the newsgathering was conducted by phone but there was plenty of freedom to make personal contact with managers and players. The editorial floor was a noisy, bustling centre of activity with those old typewriters in full flow, much quieter today I imagine in cyberland.”