HITCHIN NUB NEWS FRIDAY COLUMN: My week - Layth Yousif 'sources not sauces'

  Posted: 18.09.20 at 17:33 by LAYTH YOUSIF @HitchinNubNews

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My week: Layth Yousif

Monday, September 14: Sources and tip offs

As I used to say to my interns when I worked on a variety of newspapers, a journalist is only as good as the contacts they have.

For me, in the world of football, that means sources within clubs, agents, players and a whole host of people with inside information, that can help you produce original, exclusive stories that can set the agenda.

The same principles apply for local news.

So when I was tipped off by a source that a Hitchin secondary school was holding an emergency meeting to decide what action to take following a Covid case, I rolled into action.

One of the reasons Hitchin Nub News is growing all the time is through our strength of contacts – not least because, as a parent of children who attend various schools in our town, I know a lot of people, and many know me.

I have to say, having talked to the school in question, and to a few parents, I was wholly satisfied by their response - as a parent, and as a journalist - and after a spot of research, fact-checking and speaking with various parties, I penned an exclusive story on the situation and its aftermath.

I broke the story which others picked up on, while also writing a follow-up.

The parents I spoke to were also satisfied by the school’s response and it all worked extremely well, not least in terms of the school doing its upmost to keep everyone safe – while parents were happy with me protecting their anonymity in my articles.

As an aside, I never reveal my sources and everything off the record stays off the record. I like to think that’s how I have been trusted with a lot of sensitive stories over the years and have built an unrivalled Hitchin contacts book, not to mention a Premier League one too...

As I also used to say to my interns, a good journalist never, ever reveals his sources. So, dear reader, the next time you’ve got a Hitchin story you’d like me to look into, you know who to come to….

Tuesday, September 15: Judi turns up the heat

One of our strengths at Nub News Towers is the quality of our trusted contributors and Judi Billing pulls no punches in her inimitable style.

In an article Hitchin politician Judi raised concerns about the lack of clarity from education bigwigs over Covid cases in our schools.

It's not the Official Secrets Act, Judi says. According to the feedback on Facebook, many agree.

In other news, phew what a scorcher as they say.

Hitchin is hot. Hotter than hot. Heatwave hot. Hotter than Jock McHot from Hot Street, Hot Town as Blackadder may have said.

I scan the temperatures at European hotspots to find out which resorts are not as hot as Hitchin. I eventually find Biarittz is one degree cooler and write a weather piece. Now, if only Hitchin had a beach…

I smile when I bump into someone I know in town a day later. We exchange pleasantries and chat about the weather. They tell me earnestly: 'Did I know Hitchin was hotter than Biarritz?' I ask how they knew that. They reply they think someone told them...

Wednesday, September 16: Up close with Adam and Matt

Hitchin Nub News aims to support our community, promoting shops, businesses, charities, clubs and sports groups.

We’ve been profiling some of these businesses and organisations regularly in a feature called 'Up Close in Hitchin'.

For the last but one Up Close I caught up with Adam Howard, organiser of the BacktoSchoolival sports festival in Hitchin.

I’ve known Adam for a while and his enthusiasm for sport as a force for good is infectious. It was great to chat to him and hear his plans for the brilliant BacktoSchoolival sports festival to be held at Hitchin Rugby Club next summer.

I for one can’t wait. Nor, I suspect, can Adam and the myriad of men’s and women’s rugby teams set to be involved.

For our latest UP CLOSE, it was also great to catch up with Matt Bean, the very excellent owner of Cantina Carnitas.

We chat about how lockdown was for him and his staff, what they’re up to, plans for the future, cocktail pouches (trust me, they’re good), and of course, as Matt is a big Spurs fan, Gareth Bale heading back to the Lilywhites…however, as a Gooner the thought of Cantinas’ mouth-watering burritos are far more palatable than Bale’s return.

Talking of trusted contacts and new signings, it was great to get a well-known local character ‘Sparky’ on board at Nub News with the first of what we hope will be many columns.

We pride ourselves at Nub News at knowing a lot about our towns, but we’re always up for sharing in-depth local knowledge – including ‘Sparky’s’ expert take on Hitchin’s chalk spring water supplies.

Judging by the amount of people that read the piece and engaged with him on his personal Facebook account, many others in our town are too.

Keep an eye out for his second piece, next Wednesday, all things being equal, I gather it may well be about ghosts…

Thursday, September 16: Alex Francis

Alex Francis has released his latest single.

I have charted his progress for a while now, he is a rising star, with music that deserves a far bigger audience.

I remember seeing him at Club 85 a few years back and he rocked it.

That said he’s been ticking over nicely, having played in New York and Nashville prior to lockdown.

He’s also one of the nicest, most genuine blokes you’ll ever meet.

We’re trying to grab an hour from his busy schedule for an in-depth UP CLOSE so watch this space.

In the meantime check out his video for ‘Run’ to see if you can note a few Hitchin faces and places.

Friday, September 18: Sauces not sources

The morning is spent at the very excellent North Herts Museum on Brand Street.

We do another Facebook Live with the brilliant Roz, who shares a moving story about Hitchin suffragette Elizabeth Impey. We’ll also be penning a couple of heritage pieces on the inspirational Elizabeth, whose strength of character and incredible story should be taught in all schools, not just Hitchin ones. Watch Roz’s video on Elizabeth here.

In other news, while Hitchin Town have been serving up tasty fayre during their pre-season which has seen the Canaries win eight out of eight games, including an excellent victory over near(ish) neighbours Barnet from the National League, they are now set to provide mouth-watering food too, with the launch of their Canary Kitchen.

A few pals message me asking if I’ll be covering the game at Top Field on Saturday (yes, Nub News will be there to report on Hitchin’s first league game of the new season), a couple of the more cheeky ones ask how many ‘footlong hotdogs’ from the new Canary Kitchen I’ll be demolishing pre-match.

I jokingly vow to eat one per every goal Hitchin score tomorrow.

With the form the Canaries are in, I feel a trip to Archer’s Gym coming on – in the meantime, the only sauces I’ll be in close contact with this weekend will be ketchup and mustard…

Herts police and crime commissioner David Lloyd has voiced his concern at the ‘bottleneck’ that been caused by ‘closed’ courts...