Don Your Way column: 25 years as a journalist in Doncaster - my, how it's changed!

Last week, I racked up quarter of a century working for the Doncaster Free Press.

By Darren Burke
Monday, 08 July, 2019, 19:11
The two faces of Darren Burke

Last week, I racked up quarter of a century working for the Doncaster Free Press.

It was on July 4, 1994 that I first began my full-time newspaper career, although I'd done stuff before that, doing shifts on the paper's sports desk and even earlier, work experience for both the South Yorkshire Times and Doncaster Advertiser, newspapers that are sadly no longer with us.

I don't tell you this because I particularly want to show off about clocking up 25 years in the job. There's plenty of people out there who will have done far longer in their current jobs - and at far more demanding roles too.

I do so because of the immense changes I've seen since I first entered the newsroom as a fresh-faced newbie in the early 90s.

In that time, I've worked under six different editors and in four different offices (more if you count shifts in the offices of sister papers affiliated to the DFP).

I've worked alongside countless colleagues, some brilliant, who have gone on to work for esteemed news organisations like the BBC and The Sun, and some who should never have taken the decision to plonk themselves in front of a keyboard in the first place.

Some are sadly no longer with us, some have left the industry in disillusion, some soldier on at papers across the country, a handful have been with me throughout pretty much all of that time.

I can't even begin to estimate the number of stories I've penned in that time, the people I've met and interviewed - everyone from politicians, actors, sports stars and royalty - to of course, the people who are the lifeblood of local newspapers, you, the readers, with your fascinating stories to tell.

From writing up stories on a computer the size of a bungalow to publishing to a website from a mobile phone while in the middle of nowhere - it has been 25 years of constant change in how people consume the news.

It's not all been a barrel of laughs of course.

There's been the complaints, the angry voices not wanting light shone on their murky behaviour, the rise of vitriol, hatred and trolling via social media and the fact that being in a local newspaper as a badge of honour seems to have gone.

There was a time when if someone's story was published, proud relatives would rush out to buy ten copies. Now you're more likely to get a message via Facebook or Twitter wishing you dead simply because you've written something about Brexit.

It's also formed a backdrop to the rest of my life too.

Lifelong friendships forged through the newsroom, ex-colleagues you can go for years without seeing but as soon as you meet up, it's like you've never been away.

Newsrooms are a unique place. With a unique sense of humour and unique sense of camaraderie.

There's been tears and tantrums but laughs and all human life too - and I'd be lost without being in one.

25 years is a long time in journalism - and it has certainly been an ever-changing but fun one too.