What it’s really like to report on the general election

As a first time voter at the age of 18, and also in my first year as a journalism student, it seemed that being born in 1996 was quite a blessing in terms of political timing. As the General Election loomed upon us, our team of 23 had a plan of action in place, our equipment set, and were ready for a long, LONG night…

19:00

My best friend and fellow journo Lauren arrived at my flat door smartly dressed, yet already tired out from a full day of revision for our exams next week. She asks me what I’m going to wear (something with red lipstick probably) while I stand there in my pants wondering why I, who cannot survive on less than 8 hours sleep per night, signed up to a newsroom all-nighter with a bunch of crazy journos. In order to prepare ourselves, we natter (briefly) about what we already know about the election procedure so far, before moving onto our preferred topics such as men and alcohol (who let us in the newsroom again?!). But, it wasn’t long before I was out of my pants, well not ‘out-out’ of them, and ready for nine hours of eye-opening political happenings.

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We arrive at the newsroom, already reaching 95 degrees, to meet our editor Alex and the older students who, we hope, are about to teach us a thing or two about the equipment we’ve been staring at all year thinking ‘which button do I press again?’ Surprisingly, we were some of the first there, and were quickly shown around, assigned jobs, and got started. At 20:15, though I knew I would soon regret it, I opened my family bag of Doritos. Nope, still don’t regret that one…

21:00

There are people doing last minute checks. There are journalists running round, panting for air in the now-torturing heat of the newsroom. Open a window, they said. That will help, they said. No! There’s a sense of drive and ambition in the room, and a lot of teamwork can be seen, with hugs and words of support always to be seen or heard. We begin a quick run-through at just before 21:30. Suddenly, there’s a lot more stress as technical equipment lets us down, but this negativity was soon consoled as a member of staff informs us that the pizza delivery has arrived – special mention to Deborah Wilson for this, it certainly motivated us! With bellies full, and brains buzzing we wait patiently for our 21:55 start. Ready, set, GO!

22:00

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My view for the night

So it begins – so far so good. Not that I expected anything less from the LSJ News team! Just seeing each person contributing in some way to such a big thing is so special – from social media, to presenting. From creating pre-recorded packages, to the technicalities behind the scenes that rarely receive acknowledgment. We also had our student reporters out at constituencies around Lincolnshire, keeping us updated minutely and Skyping us live. As my first time being involved with anything like this, I was amazed by all the ideas and clever technological elements that had so intelligently been selected. I could only hope that the rest of the night would be just like this.

23:00

So the first hour went swimmingly, and everyone is still feeling rather positive (and full of pizza). We are getting lots of encouraging feedback from friends, family and people in the industry which is only driving us further. Of course, we’ve had the odd set back and things have gone wrong, but hey – that’s showbiz, right?

00:00

A few results starting to come in from local constituencies, meaning we are all far too busy to be tired – probably a good thing! As for the newsroom, toilet habits (particularly bowel movements) have become an unnervingly common topic of conversation, yet none of us bat an eyelid, instead providing gentle words and a hand to hold for those most in need (now that’s commitment!). And, I assure you, any midnight feast you’ve had before will certainly be put to shame by the one I so greedily indulged in last night (there are some Doritos left, though not many).

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Always classy, always smooth, always Jarrad Johnson!

01:00

With each hour past midnight, I try to convince myself that it isn’t one hour later, but one hour closer to the end result. We Skype a fellow journo reporting at a local count. Prior to his thorough description of the count where he was, he throws me a cheeky wink and a thumbs up to help maintain my high spirits. It worked.

02:00

I don’t know what it is about election nights. Whether it’s the ludicrous mix of excitement and tiredness, I don’t know, but I do start to question our sanity and well-being when a fellow reporter attempts to walk me like a dog on a lead up and down the stairs on the way to do an interview. Hmm…

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It’s very dark outside. The same fellow reporter who had previously adopted my as his pet has just informed me that he has done his first yawn of the evening. I sigh, realising I’ve been yawning since 6pm and am not likely to stop anytime soon. The show must go on…

04:00

My 7th bottle of orange flavoured energy drink is on the go… Which would be fine if I wasn’t fructose intolerant. The swelling to my stomach from the drink has caused colleagues to ask when my baby is due, and to let them know if my waters break at any point tonight. Thanks guys. I will! We are all very tired now and very, very ready for bed. How long left? Another hour? 2? 3? Oh gosh…

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Hi Ho Hi Ho it’s off to bed we go! (not together, of course)

05:00

Mixed emotions filled my (now huge) stomach as our presenter Alex wrapped up our 8 hour broadcast with the words “good night” at exactly 5:03am. There was laughter, selfies, hugs, kisses, cheering, tears… Okay, no tears. Everyone was far too sleepy for that. So off we went! The sun was rising, and there we were strolling home from a challenging night’s work. Of course, I was bouncing off the walls until about 7am, due to the amount of sugar and pizza running through my exhausted body, but soon after that I was sound asleep, until 10am when I awoke to the sun glaring through my window, as it was when I hopped into bed. In my cosy little bed, I reflected on the previous night.

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The beautiful sunrise at 5:30am (08/05/2015).

It may sound clichéd, or cheesy even, but I honestly couldn’t have chosen a better group of people to share the night with. The dedication, enthusiasm, and support that was visible in that newsroom cannot be reflected, and I truly wish each and every one of those reporters a full, rewarding and exciting career in what I will always consider to be a full, rewarding and exciting industry!

Becky Lancashire, #GE2015, over & out!

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