AddThis SmartLayers

Weekly reporter is left holding the ‘baby’

A weekly newspaper reporter was left holding the baby when he spent a weekend looking after a life-like doll which cried and needed feeding.

Hertfordshire Mercury reporter Ciaran Gold spent three days looking after the fake baby as part of an experiment for the paper.

He wrote about the challenges of looking after the three-month-old baby, known as Anna, which included taking her to work with him and also tweeted about looking after her on his @MercuryCiaran account.

The dolls are used as a teaching tool at Hertford Regional College, which gives students the option of taking them home for the weekend to find out what it is like to be a parent.

In a feature for the paper, Ciaran wrote: “Editor and grandfather-of-two Gary Matthews appeared more sympathetic than my colleagues and started enquiring about why there was a baby girl by my desk.

“I expected some fatherly advice from the respected community figurehead. Instead, the former non-league football sensation rolled back the years, by accidentally booting the car seat Anna was in. While Gary relived the 1981 FA Vase Final, Anna was crying.

“A brief rock seemed to calm her, and I took the rare opportunity to scold my boss and place her under my desk out of harm’s reach.

“An hour later, I hear a whimper. Then a cry, which evolved into a horrible, inhuman bloodcurdling sound of some tortured beast in intolerable agony.

“Cue fumbling as I gingerly picked Anna up and attempted to soothe her. The noise got louder and louder.

“Sparing my blushes was Mercury deputy sports editor Alasdair Gold. Calm, calculated and seemingly immune to the ear-splitting wails, the dad-of-three got to grips with a nappy. The crying stopped.

“I was in and out of the office for the rest of the day with Anna, be it for feeds, winding, nappy changes or rocking. It was relentless and I’d done no work by home time.”

He then had to take Anna with him to report on a Buntingford Town Council meeting that evening, during which she started crying and one of the councillors phoned his workplace to send someone over to help Ciaran.

Ciaran added: “By the time I gave Anna back I was thoroughly exhausted, but grateful for the experience. I knew it was going to be tough, but it was the unpredictability of it all that was the hardest to deal with.

“There were periods where Anna wouldn’t stir for up to six hours. At other times she was inconsolable for what seemed like hours.

“But I came away with the firm conviction that a weekend with these babies should be compulsory for all schoolchildren. And Mum, you won’t be a grandmother for some time yet.”

His full story can be read here.


You can follow all replies to this entry through the comments feed.
  • November 12, 2012 at 8:47 am

    I did this over 10 years ago for my weekly paper — and even then I copied the idea from a feature I’d seen in a big regional.

    From experience I can say it’ll have made an interesting feature and that the reporter will have had an eye opening few days.

    However I’m not sure why it’s news for HTFP.

    “Reporter writes feature shocker”

    Report this comment

    Like this comment(0)
  • November 12, 2012 at 10:57 am

    Quite right Jackel! Let’s ensure all journalism news is depressing and if possible about job losses.

    Report this comment

    Like this comment(0)