Keith Harrison: Everybody hurts, even us hardened news men

If you believe what you see, journalists are meant to be tough, hard-nosed types.Whenever we’re portrayed on films and TV it’s always as some brash, uncaring character who would do anything for a story.

Cancer patient Stephen Sutton has now raised more than two and a half million pounds for charity
Cancer patient Stephen Sutton has now raised more than three million pounds for charity

From Spider-Man’s boss at the Daily Bugle to duff Channel 5 dramas, newspaper men are loud, shouty, cigar-chewing monsters, forever bawling out their staff and demanding copy.

Editors, allegedly, are the worst. Not me, obviously. I spend my days having palms laid at my feet by adoring staff and my evenings playing chess while listening to The Archers and drinking copious amounts of red wine.

Keith Harrison

(In the interests of accuracy, I hereby confess that only part of that statement is true. I’ll let you decide which it is.)

Soaps are often the biggest contributors to this obviously appalling stereotype, with the Weatherfield Gazette indulging in tactics that would put the reddest of red-tops to shame.

Things have obviously gone downhill since Ken Barlow left.

The reality of newsrooms is, as anyone with a brain would expect, rather different.

Contrary to what some people believe, we never set out to upset anyone, we never seek to pull the wool over anyone’s eyes, we don’t tap phones and we don’t make things up.

If we do get things wrong, we’re more than happy to put them right in print.

And – breaking news! – journalists are human.

Years of experience instils a professionalism that allows us to carry on our jobs in the face of intimidation, stress, deadlines, mud, sweat and, yes, tears.

Such was the case this week when we reported on the inspiration that is Stephen Sutton.

For those, who may have missed this tale, the 19- year-old from Burntwood was diagnosed with incurable cancer three years ago.

Undeterred, he set out a bucket list of things he wanted to achieve in whatever time he had left.

This went from sky-diving to crowd-surfing to cuddling an elephant.

But most of all, he wanted to raise £10,000 for the Teenage Cancer Trust.

His efforts have been widely covered in this newspaper in the past, but this week Stephen neared the end of his journey.

And instead of raising £10,000 for the TCT, he brought in more than £2.8 MILLION and still rising.

Remarkably, he posted a thumbs up message from his hospital bed and wrote such a heart-rending post on his Facebook page that I defy anyone to read it and not weep.

I know our big, tough newsroom did – almost en masse.

I’m not sure if ‘making an entire room full of journalists cry’ was on Stephen’s list.

But if not, we can add it on now.