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Correspondent’s week

This week Ben Griffiths, City reporter in the London offices of The Herald

Summer is a strange time to be a City journalist. Most of the people who help make the Square Mile Europe’s premier financial centre seem to have left London for warmer climes. Those left behind must scratch around for the odd bit of gossip to feed the insatiable news machine.

Fortunately, the stories keep flowing this year, aided by calls from trusted contacts and the odd sociable get-together.

A City lunch for journalists organised by Hugo de Salis and Isabel Crossley of St Brides Media & Finance was one welcome diversion. About a dozen colleagues assemble a stone’s throw from our former offices on Fleet Street, including reporters from the Daily Mail, Daily Express, Yorkshire Post, Shares, Dow Jones and Mining Journal. One attendee describes our motley crew as “the cream” of financial journalism – later amending this to “Ambrosia cream custard”.

Next morning, confirmation of Royal Bank of Scotland’s investment in Bank of China comes through from the London Stock Exchange.

City editor Karl West and I have a chuckle at the thought of Sir Fred Goodwin, RBS’s chief executive, learning Mandarin to help understand what’s going on at board meetings. Sadly, Fred dismisses the idea during a conference call with reporters. All meetings will, of course, be in English.

A silly season story also emerges from north of the border. We report on a Bank of Scotland motivational technique which involves forcing poorly performing staff to sit with vegetables on their desks.

On Thursday, an anonymous call came in claiming that the UK managing director of a major firm has been sacked. Repeated calls to the press office yield no response, not even a denial.

As everyone else seems to be on holiday, I head off to celebrate an anniversary with my wife.

Friday is by far the busiest day of the week for The Herald’s City office. Besides the usual news flow, there is masses of material to be written for the Saturday and Monday editions. One of the first tasks is putting together the Business Diary. It is also an opportunity to finish the week with a laugh as we recount amusing tales from the preceding days.

The prospect of a juicy exclusive is snatched away when I finally get an answer regarding that anonymous tip. It is true but has been reported overseas already.

After work I met David Parsley, editor of London Business Daily, the soon-to-launch freesheet for the City. I am working out my notice at The Herald, after almost two years, to join the paper as chief reporter.

The new week starts with a bang as independent Scottish brewer and pub owner Belhaven falls to a takeover from English predator Greene King. As one of Scotland’s fast-shrinking stock of publicly quoted companies, the deal is a big story for The Herald and I hit the phone to get some quotes and background from chief executive Stuart Ross. It is a more-or-less guaranteed lead story and a chance to flex my shorthand muscles.


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