Central London, underground bunker.
But that’s only on Tuesdays. This is Wednesday – deadline day back at our third-floor office in Kentish Town, where talk of warheads and blast radius turns to more pressing matters like wayward rabbis and a breaking kosher food crisis. “I’m busy, it’ll just have to wait!” snaps Ferrer, slamming the phone down on yet another world leader.
When you think of a newsroom, what do you imagine? A mass of autocues, headphones, microphones and cameras? A huge expanse of desks, screens, wires and phones, with Moscow on one line and New York the other? Yep, we’re just like that. Only without the fake tan.
The graphic design element is taken care of by our glamorous production team: Jodie, who has the look of a young Barbra Streisand and Diane, who’s channelling a latter-day Deborah Harry.
Alongside them is fellow mother and pint-sized sub-editor Alex, who feeds us, freelances for us and acts as font of all grammatical knowledge. “Apostrophes, know your limits!” she’s been heard to shout in anger.
Sat quietly amid this unruly posse is young web editor Jack, the baby of the pack, who is charged with keeping us online, partly because he’s good at it, but mainly because he’s the only one who understands it.
Watch carefully and you may also see desk-hopping sports/community editor Andrew drift deftly in. Patience, silence, stillness and camouflage can, on occasion, earn a glimpse of this elusive creature, settling on a computer just long enough to expound such wisdom as the secret behind Norstar London Raiders’ Premier League title victory (“er… they won the most games”).
Alas, as with most males, the encounter is fleeting. And no sooner is it written than he’s off, we know not where.
On the other side of the office, in front of sales and finance, sits the undisputed engine room that is editorial. This has a features department, me, news editor Justin Cohen (otherwise known as “The Big JC”) and Richard (otherwise known as “Sir”).
Our day starts at one minute past midnight, when embargoes expire and news items appear online. Justin scans the world’s press before re-organising the paper in his sleep, emerging fresh and early (ahem) with a page-plan and suggestions for the “splash” (front page story/concept). Richard listens quietly, in a high-leather armchair, stroking a hairless cat, before either agreeing to all Justin’s demands or pressing his Bond-baddy button, sending a flailing news editor on his shark-infested way.
Such is the way of things. We’re all used to it by now.
When everything is agreed, we get on with the task of writing. Today’s line-up is a belter: paedophilia, anti-Semitism, neo-Nazis and boycotts. Behind us sit Alon, Marc and Bev in sales. They each have a unique noise for when they secure a sale (usually an advert or a sponsorship deal, although Marc’s peddling some cut-price e-cigs at the moment).
When we hear a ding or a buzz we all cheer. It’s the sound of salaries.
Suddenly, the door blows open and in steps our supplements editor, child in tow. Work grinds to a temporary halt as her eight-year-old tells us all about what she’s doing in school and what she drew today, as mum works with production on a design for a new client (“we need to show debt recovery in the best possible light”).
Meanwhile, Marc takes a call from people at a north London shul, who feel like they’ve drifted off the communal map and want to know how we can help. After a quick Google search, we find a compass through Amazon for £3.49.
It’s mid-afternoon, and office administrator Jose opens the door to cake. “It’s for Mr Orange Juice,” say two young unknown girls, after Jose establishes that they’re not jihadists (you can never be too careful).
The accompanying note reveals that the two large tarts (the cake, not the girls) have come from a communal organisation that actually liked their Day in the Life Of… profile.
This being a first, not only in the Jewish News but in the Jewish world, we all partake in the patisserie. Sales even let me ring the Bell of Success.
The day’s coming to an end. Sales director Russell comes back from a meeting (“four figures, not five”) while Justin disappears off into the toilets to get changed into his suit. He’s introducing some senior Tory, I forget which, at JW3 tonight, and wants to look his best. We send the make-up artists in after him. They’re there for some time.
Fair’s fair, I need to conclude. The first point to make is: they employ me. The second thing to say is: they employ me. Means of living aside, why else would a non-Jew with no evangelical affinity to Israel choose to stay at a Jewish newspaper for three years if he didn’t love the place, the people and the world in which he’d so inadvertently entered?
I love it, and those who know me know I do.
We’re the most-read Jewish newspaper in the country – feedback and figures prove it. I can only hope that, as we continue to grow, Jewish News keeps its fun side.
If it does, I’ll gladly eat cake all day long.