DERRY JOURNAL 250: ‘I have many lovely memories’

I entered the smoke filled newsroom of the Derry Journal, fresh faced and straight out of college. It was a daunting experience starting out at first.

The bustling newsroom’s phones were constantly ringing, the fax machine buzzing and everyone had their heads down thrashing on their keyboards to make the copy deadlines.

Immediately the senior news team took me under their wing to show me the ropes, taking me out with them to cover stories and to offer their guidance and support.

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Every day was different, one day you could be covering the Magistrates Court and a Council meeting later that night and the next, you could be up town gauging public opinion via a voxpop on whatever the pressing issue was of the day or accompanying one of the photography team to cover a human interest story in Inishowen.

Adele McCourt. DER2016GS012

It was such an important paper at that time, and being in the newsroom you were right in the thick of it. It was “the place” to work if you wanted to be a reporter and I was very proud to be part of it and to work alongside so many great people.

Back then, there was such camaraderie among the staff so there were plenty of laughs and the craic was great, and many a good night out we had in the Delacroix.

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There were always people coming and going, John Hume popping in to see Pat McArt on his way to the US or Brussels, Martin McGuinness or Gregory Campbell calling in to give a statement. And of course, just the ordinary man or woman on the street popping in with their golf notes from the weekend or with some information about a local fundraiser they wanted in the next edition. Everyone’s story was treated with the same respect and importance.

When you rang people up to say you were from the Derry Journal, it was like magic – hey presto - people would talk to you. No matter where you went people recognised and respected the paper, they trusted it.

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Siobhan McEleney (second row) with colleague Mary McLaughlin and in the background former Inishowen reporter Adele McCourt.

It was an institute for local journalism and it set standards.

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The Journal was a great place to work, with amazing colleagues who have remained my friends 20 years on.

I will always remember my time there with a smile and many lovely memories. Here’s to the next 250 years.

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- Adele McCourt