A Liverpool Echo journalist designated as the newspaper’s Hillsborough correspondent says she will find it hard to “readjust to the outside world” after spending the past two years covering the inquest.
Eleanor Barlow, left, spoke of her experiences in covering the inquest in a piece for yesterday’s paper after a jury returned unl;awful killing verdicts on the 96 Liverpool supporters who died in the 1989 disaster.
The Echo was the only media organisation to be present for every single day of evidence given to the court in Warrington, and Eleanor provided a minute by minute live blog of the proceedings for the newspaper’s website, as well as writing full stories at the end of each day.
Eleanor, 29, joined the Echo in 2012 just before the Hillsborough Independent Panel report, commissioned by the government to investigate the tragedy, was published.
She said: “I think every one of us who was involved will find it hard to readjust to the outside world now. I’m definitely institutionalised and will find it difficult to go back to normal working days in Old Hall Street.
“I don’t know if the whole experience has changed me as a person – but maybe I now look at the police, and authority, in a different way.
“I didn’t write about the Panel, although I had written several Hillsborough stories before the inquests opened. As a reporter, I think it probably helped that I wasn’t emotionally-involved before the hearings began.
“The blog acted as my notes, which I referred to when writing my major pieces at the end of the day. I also provided lunchtime updates for our website readers. And when the day’s evidence was over, I wrote a main article, a shorter piece and ‘Five things we learned today’.
“Many families weren’t able to attend the inquests on a regular basis, and the Echo was determined to keep them, and all our readers, as well-informed as possible.
“I’m proud that we wanted to cover everything, and there was nothing we missed.”
Eleanor’s work on the inquest for the Echo earned her the paper’s Tony Martin Memorial Award, given to a young Merseyside journalist who has consistently demonstrated talent and commitment, last September.
Describing the “world within a world” of the court over the past 24 months, Eleanor added everyone had been “really friendly”, except John Beggs QC – who represented match commander Ch Supt David Duckenfield, of South Yorkshire Police.
The jury found Mr Duckenfield was “responsible for manslaughter by gross negligence” due to a breach of his duty of care.