Wednesday, 22 September 2010

A Week in the Life Of...Be My Parent Deputy Editor

Felicity Francis, Deputy Editor of Be My Parent, provides insight into a typical week in the Be My Parent office.

The hum of activity in the Be My Parent editorial team always follows a monthly wave: children’s profile writing, chasing social workers for information, proofreading profiles and sending the newspaper to print, before starting the process again with booking in referrals. But all of this is mixed in with writing web profiles, writing features for the website – and this week for the November National Adoption Week issue – editing video clips, reviewing website content and doing a bit of marketing. I’ve only been here six weeks and I’m still in the process of understanding our team’s fine mechanics, but I already know that we don’t often have time to spare!

I begin Monday by writing profiles for the website as I’m waiting for the newspaper proofs. I’m often affected by children’s profiles, but one today is particularly heart-breaking. A little girl has had such a sad time so far in life that, in the social worker’s words, she appears ‘frozen’. When she’s given a toy she just sits and holds it, not knowing how to play. I really hope she finds a family soon!
Another profile is for a baby who has some complicated medical conditions. We’re lucky to have a short film clip of this boy, which Isabelle, the editor of Be My Parent, has checked and uploaded on the website. Children with video clips tend to receive more enquiries because prospective adopters can get a more rounded idea of the child.
Writing profiles for the newspaper can be really tricky, because a standard profile is only 175 words. When a social worker sends two pages of information, we just have to cut it down. But how should I decide what is more important to tell prospective families? That the little boy won a prize for writing a short story at school or that he finds it hard to give people cuddles? How should I balance including crucial medical needs with words that let the child’s personality shine through?
Tuesday begins with the first set of proofs. After Dinah, the editorial and production officer for the newspaper, checks that all the children are in the right place with the right details and photo, I proofread the entire paper. This takes some time, but I’m one of those strange people who loves checking grammar!
I end Tuesday on a lovely note; I interview a family who recently adopted a little girl. They are so happy and feel so blessed to have their daughter, and the support from their families has been incredible. The feature is for our special National Adoption Week of the newspaper, which goes out to a lot of prospective adopters, so I hope their story will encourage even more families to adopt.
On Wednesday I have another look through the proofs after writing the feature – there is a lot of to’ing and fro’ing between me and the printers to make sure everything’s right. I get a phone call from a social worker who wants to make a last minute change, as sadly a child’s birth mother has passed away. Changes will come trickling in until we go to press, as it can take some social workers a while to get back to us!
On Thursday I turn my mind to reviewing websites pages. A lot of people come to Be My Parent online for information, so it’s important that it’s up to date, well structured and fresh. I’ve got a lot of ideas for developing the website, so watch out for changes to the site over the next year!
Emily, the editorial and production officer for the website, leads the process of publishing children online, but Dinah and I do this too. It’s quite a complicated method of checking the information and photos and adding links to the glossary pages. We’re getting more and more web only referrals these days, so we need to make sure we keep on top of this.
Friday is a happy day – a sibling group got placed! We don’t always find out when children who have been featured find a family, but when we do it’s always a brilliant feeling. It can be very hard to find adopters for sibling groups so we’re particularly happy. What a lovely end to the week!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I thought this was really interesting. Be My Parent does really great work and the team is so professional. Few of us realise how much work goes on behind the scenes. Thank you BMP!

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