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Reporter's 'rubbish' assignment sees him out on the bins

When Shields Gazette reporter David MacLean was given an undercover assignment by newsdesk, he thought it was rubbish!

The 21-year-old was asked to lift the lid on being a binman – and so donned overalls and mucked in with council refuse collectors for a day as they did their rounds.

“When news editor Helen Charlton told me that my next job would be as a bin man, I wasn’t sure whether it was a career prediction or a quirky feature idea,” said David.

“Whatever she meant, the next morning I was stood on a bleak industrial clad in my council issue overalls, ready to get down and dirty in the borough’s bins.”

David, (pictured), was left to his own devices for a few hours, working alongside a regular crew who had no idea he was a journalist, and instead thinking he was a new recruit.

He said: “My smooth reporter’s hands are more used to tapping away at a keyboard than dragging stinking bins along, so I quickly became adept at judging which bins would be the lightest, simply by looking at the house they were sat outside.

“On our route through town I encountered the meticulously cleaned bins stood outside leafy middle-class semis, right through to stinking bins caked in thick wet filth outside half-boarded up homes.

“The real reward came at the end of my round as I sat in the site canteen, munching on a bacon sandwich and cup of tea with my ‘co-workers’ and revealing that I was in fact a journalist.

“‘We’d give you a job anytime’, one of them quipped, and, if ever things go bad in the newsroom, I’ve now got an unlikely job to fall back on.”

Editor John Szymanski said: “The newsroom certainly hasn’t looked tidier since David returned from his assignment.

“It provided good copy and gave an interesting insight for readers as we all get more environmentally-conscious about how we dispose of our rubbish.” Do you have a story about the regional press?
Ring 0116 227 3122/3121, or e-mail:
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