Written by Alex Felton • Published 24th July 2019 • 2 minute read
It starts around 6am. Any journalist who has ever witnessed a momentous day down the “wind tunnel” that is Downing Street, SW1A will tell you that it always starts at the break of dawn. All the spots have already been diligently marked out on the pavement with each media outlet’s name tattooed on the concrete outside of the famous black door, so everyone knows where they are to setup camp for the day.
It is the most unglamorous pavement imaginable; the police often lock down the street so the possibilities of running to the bathroom or to grab coffees are minimal so once you are in, you are in for the long haul. As soon as the clock hits 7am and the breakfast bulletins want their live reports, you are off to the races.
In my years as a journalist with CNN, I had the privilege to be a member of the parliamentary lobby which means that you are on the guest list. Essentially you are in a select group of journalists who receive the news before anyone else and it is your responsibility to report on the twists and turns of the day as they happen. I covered the results of the Scottish independence referendum in 2014, David Cameron’s 2015 General election coalition government win, the Brexit vote in 2016 and Theresa May’s first day as the UK’s second female prime minister. Each of those days I was witness to history and the rollercoaster of emotions that accompanies it.
The news flows thick and fast. Tweets, announcements, speeches, cabinet resignations and new appointments are the order of the day and as a journalist, even with the rumor mill in full swing, the importance to not misreport, misrepresent or get anything wrong is paramount. As a team working with your editors back in the studio, the trust and focus needed to deliver the news in real time is why you joined up in the first place.
With all those days I covered outside no.10, I remember the morning’s in the lead up to lunchtime as rather sad. News of resignations and sackings pepper your inbox and all the hard work and aspirations of previous campaigns leading up to those hours culminate.
Then the spoils go to the victor as the infamous lectern is setup outside the black door at no.10 and whoever is set to be the winner and PM will give a speech to all those who have been setup with their cameras all day. A full stop to the speculation and day of change at the heart of the country’s government. Then the moment you woke up so early for happens. For me that was often David Cameron out the front with a victory speech full of promises, hopes and ambitions or his successor Theresa May promising in 2016 to deliver Brexit.
Then they’re off, a turn on the heels, a wave for the cameras before they enter the cream hallway inside Downing Street with the staffers applauding their new boss. It all happens so quickly and then business resumes as usual. A day of epic change at the heart of government with winners and losers on all sides. And then it’s over. You leave that little street and return home trying to digest your working day having been bombarded by information from all sides.