James Marston: Newsroom a hive of activity in wake of Margaret Thatcher’s death

Margaret Thatcher

Margaret Thatcher - Credit: Archive

I love a big news story.

I can’t help it – I love the hive of activity, the buzz of a big breaking story, like the tragic death of Margaret Thatcher.

As it happened I was out of the office when the news broke just after 1pm. When I came back everyone was arguing about how good or bad she was and whether the BBC should have been wearing black ties and wondering what Norman Tebbit was going to say.

I found myself contacting old chums – I can’t explain why – just to tell them the news. Though in this 24/7 news arena it’s unlikely they didn’t know about the death of this controversial figure.

On balance, I fall into the pro-Thatcher camp.

Partly because she was the Prime Minister when I was growing up – I didn’t realise there could be other ones until I was quite old – and partly because I can’t help admire a woman who never shirked from difficult decisions and kicked the Argentinians out of the Falkland Islands after their illegal invasion.

However, I am not unaware that for many she was considered some sort of she-devil who made people rich and selfish and closed down factories.

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But there’s something about breaking news – real news I mean - when something has actually happened rather than something just being argued about – which is terrifically interesting.

Journalists are much maligned nowadays, so-called celebrities have whined and moaned so loudly that the freedom of the press – and thereby the freedom of speech of all of us - is under threat.

On television we are usually portrayed as rather nasty individuals or a baying group of rowdy hounds shoving microphones in people’s faces – the truth, of course, is somewhat different.

The press has had an appalling press and this has made me, for one, defiant about the value of my trade.

Nonetheless Thatcher’s death this week reminded me of the great thrill of journalism and how, when at its best, there is nothing to match it.

Today, as the news of her death sinks in, people and pundits will continue to express opinions about her premiership, discuss the funeral, and assess her legacy.

But remember this – like us or loathe us you probably wouldn’t even know she was dead let alone what she did and who she was if it wasn’t for a journalist telling you.