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20 March 2012

David Wood - Sub-editor

David Wood - Sub-editor

David Wood works part-time as a sub-editor based in Worcester on a number of local newspapers: the Worcester News, Evesham Journal, Cotswold Journal and Malvern Gazette.

David has worked in local newspapers in the south Midlands area for 22 years, initially as a reporter. He runs the Three Shires Good News media hub which covers south Worcestershire, north Gloucestershire and south Warwickshire

As a child what did you want to be when you grew up?

I only ever wanted to play cricket for my beloved county of Worcestershire. I did once play on the county ground in the finals of an under-14 county cup competition but most of my childhood was spent watching my heroes such as Glenn Turner and Basil D'Oliveira. I have played cricket for my home village of Ashton-under-Hill since I was 14 and still love to play.

How did you end up in the print press?

After spending a disastrous year after university working for a pensions company, I decided I had to follow a career path that I would enjoy. Having edited the college newspaper at York University, I gained a place at City University in London on a journalism diploma course, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Although many of my fellow students went on to work for national publications, I always intended to go back "home" and duly got a reporting job on my local newspaper in Evesham.

What do you enjoy about local media reporting?

I have a passion to share good news Christian stories with a wider audience, and this role enables me to act as a kind of middleman between the local churches and local media, sourcing good news Christian stories for the secular media.

This year I came across an ex-vicar with an Elvis Presley Gospel Tribute Act. I've written a couple of articles about him and the feedback makes the job rewarding. I also love a good headline. I haven't written that many "classics" in my time but I do remember once editing a feature about the start of the pollen season. My headline was "Summertime and the livin' is sneezy".  

How has the recession affected local papers?

Advertising revenue has obviously dropped considerably and for the past two or three years our group of papers has made cutbacks in every department. Recently, more redundancy proposals were announced. From the sub-editors' points of view, various teams have merged into a subbing "pool" where about 15 different titles are produced by about 13 sub-editors, whereas previously each title would have at least two sub-editors. We have also had things like unpaid holidays brought in to save on costs. 

Who would you like to share a taxi with?

Bono would be a pretty interesting person to spend half an hour chatting to. I admire him greatly for his passion to help the world's poor and I can't really understand it when people who apparently have no compassion for the poor give him a hard time for supposedly being pretentious or whatever.  

Which biblical text or story motivates you in your work?

"I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted my out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God."

Interestingly, the words from Psalm 40:1-3 formed the basis to the lyrics of U2's song "40".

A number of years I was diagnosed with bi-polar disorder. Having sunk into the pit and seemingly lost virtually everything because of this, God restored my life completely and gave me new hope and a new family.  

What is your dream for society?

It might sound a cliché, but I am passionate to see revival. I once had a vision that revival would come to the UK and since then I have longed to see it happen. But, as our church minister always says, we don't know when it is going to happen; we just have to keep praying for it. If the kind of revival happened which I am praying for does happen, it could totally transform our society. 

What makes you happy?

At the moment our new born son is responsible for much of my joy as he is playing an absolute blinder. My wife, Helena, is also responsible for a lot of my happiness and I'm not sure what I'd do without her.

Best story you’ve ever covered in the local press.

Maybe not the best story, but one of the most memorable stories occurred when I was working as a reporter in Stratford-upon-Avon. Somebody stole a full-size plastic crocodile from the props department of the Royal Shakespeare Company and, from hundreds of miles away, sent a ransom note demanding money if they ever wanted to see the croc returned. The story made most of the national papers as well as the local ones.

Does the Christian community ‘raise its light on a stand’ in the media?

I'd like to think many churches do raise their lights on a stand. My own church, Chipping Campden Baptist Church in the glorious Cotswolds, takes every opportunity to let people around know what is going on in the church and if something special is happening, then we will try to get a positive story in the local papers.

Tell us a joke

What's the difference between a jailer and a jeweller?

One watches cells and the other sells watches.