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TV shows race to deadline

A regional newspaper’s battle to beat the nationals on a breaking story about the Ulster peace process will be shown on television tonight.

Part 2 of Hold the Front Page follows editor Barrie Williams and senior editorial staff of the Western Morning News as they attempt to keep ahead of the pack on talks in Cornwall between Tony Blair and Irish Prime Minister Bertie Aherne.

The programe, Deadline Midnight, is the second in a six-part series and goes out at 7.30pm in Carlton’s West Country region.

Photographer Richard Austin and news editor Justin Clark are seen following the talks on the ground and liaising by phone with deputy news editor Ian Mean, back at the paper’s Plymouth HQ, and Barrie Williams as the story develops late through the evening of February 3 and into the early hours.

Viewers will see the front page taking shape around a picture, sent down the wire by pool photographers, then being re-shaped at midnight as a better image arrives and the first one is relegated to an inside page. By then, 2,000 copies of the paper have been printed.

The next morning, cameras follow the editor and news editor to a scheduled interview with Tony Blair. Mr Williams questions the PM over the plight of farmers and says afterwards that he had hoped to hear firmer commitments, although on reviewing the interview, he realises Blair had given more than appeared initially.

Back in the office, the nationals’ first edition coverage of the peace talks is reviewed and the WMN declared a clear winner.

“The whole thing was just magic,” says Mr Williams. “That’s the advantage of being half an hour down the road.”

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