I’VE felt like a proud father this week, watching as something I created went out into the world.
No, I don’t mean my daughter. She’s not yet four months old so she won’t be trotting round the globe for a few years yet.
I’m referring to my story about Huddersfield MP Barry Sheerman, who last week tweeted: “Just had worst coffee & bacon bap in London at Victoria Station. Why can’t Camden Food Co employ English staff?”
When I spoke to him about this the following day the veteran backbencher explained that he wanted British people to get ‘first crack’ at jobs.
The piece went in the paper and on the Examiner website on Wednesday morning.
A few hours later the story was spreading round the world.
The Telegraph was first with a blatant lift of our piece, quotes and all. Just about the only part to be changed was Mr Sheerman’s assertion that the best bacon buttie in the country could be found in Moldgreen. The Telegraph cut that bit because it’s the sort of thing which sounds strange to non-Huddersfield ears.
Because they were first to nick it, latecomers credited them rather than us.
I saw the words “As Mr Sheerman told the Daily Telegraph” a few times last week while reading the exact words the MP had spoken to me.
The Mail lifted it, the London Evening Standard did a good follow-up and the New Statesman carried quite a thoughtful blog about immigration off the back of Mr Sheerman’s quotes.
Even Vanessa Feltz discussed the issue on her radio show. I’ve inspired Vanessa Feltz. My life is complete.
As the mainly unacknowledged originator of the story, I felt a strange mixture of anger and pride as the tale spread.
I was unhappy that the Examiner didn’t get the credit for the piece. We humble local news-gatherers are often overlooked.
But I also felt happy that so many other journalists recycled my story, seeing it as a form of professional vindication.
It’s a bit like a car designer wandering down the street and noticing a thief smash in the windscreen of his invention and drive it off.
You’re upset at the vandalism to something you created. But you’re secretly happy that the thief considered your work worth nicking.