My Media Day: Grant McCabe, Glasgow Court Press Agency

GRANT McCabe has been a partner at the Glasgow Court Press Agency for the last four years.

His career began at the Peterborough Evening Telegraph, as a general news reporter, before he moved to the agency ten years ago, covering the goings-on at the sheriff court in Glasgow for the following six years.

He submitted this on Friday, November 9.

What exactly is it you do?

As the name suggests, we cover the courts in Glasgow for the national Press, TV and radio.

Our main business is at the high and sheriff courts, but we also keep tabs on the Justice of the Peace business as well.

We report on anything from footballers getting caught with tinted windows in their Bentleys to high-profile murder trials.

The agency also covers the employment tribunals which take place in Glasgow city centre.

What did your working day today or yesterday comprise? 

Today – like most – began by going through the morning papers to see if our finely-crafted words from the day before were picked up.

Our main story was the killing of a gay barman in Ayrshire, which a teenager pled guilty to. All the daillies gave our copy a good turn, which is always pleasing.

We also had one or two other stories used which, as average days go, counts as a result.

Myself and Wilma Riley – the other agency partner – cover the high court while our reporter, Ashlie McAnally, works at the sheriff.

Between us, we find out what’s happening at the courts and work out where the ‘money’ is in terms of newsworthy cases.

It turns out a man is pleading guilty to the attempted murder of a gran – an attack which got massive coverage at the time.

The case didn’t end until late in the afternoon – which, for freelancers trying to get words in a Saturday paper, is not great.

The story is thankfully put together in enough time, along with pictures, so it works out well in the end.

A quick check is made before close of play to see what is due up on Monday, so we are as teed up as best as possible.

How different or similar was it to your average working day?

Two days are very rarely the same – its often feast or famine. There are times when you have two or three good stories in the pipeline, and then it all falls flat by midday.

You can also be sitting not doing very much and suddenly there’s a good line from an otherwise mundane trial, and there’s your story.

One of the agency’s most successful days was a day like that. An otherwise so-so fraud case was lifted when it became apparent that Deputy First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, had written a reference for the accused, asking for him not to be jailed.

It was a huge story. We had the splash in every daily the next day and TV and radio went big on it.

How different or similar was it to your average working day when you started in post?

When I began at the agency, like any new reporter, you want to see your by-line in the papers. Nowadays, being one of two in charge, I just want to see our stories getting used, no matter the name on top.

Running a business brings with it different aspects, but other than that, it is still very much the case of keeping track what’s happening, churning out a decent story and hoping it is of interest.

How do you see the job evolving?

TV cameras and social media, such as Twitter, may feature more in Scottish courtrooms. However, I remain unconvinced of tweeting on a trial or a sentencing hearing as it happens.

Are people that interested in a court case – or, indeed, can a case be that interesting – to merit updates every minute or two?

Some tweets from previous hearings are beyond dull. Tweets like ‘accused now in the dock’ are hardly dramatic.

That aside, while the courts will be our mainstay, the agency also has to look at other types of news for business.

Many cases don’t get the coverage they once did, so you have to look at different avenues for stories. It is important to move with the times.

What gives you most job satisfaction?

The blunt truth is seeing our stories getting used. We are an agency that can be relied upon, so long may that continue.