SC caught up with Chester Chronicle journalist just before the city’s Pride parade: Carmella is 28 years old , from Deeside, but was born in Chester. Her dad is Italian and she says that she is proud of her Italian heritage, having grown up with the culture.
“I’ve always wanted to be a journalist , mainly because I’ve always liked stories. I was writing my own stories as soon as I could write, and I just loved creative writing and English.. I was awful at every other subject! Combined with that and the fact that I’m really nosey, journalism was the only thing I could do really! I always used to like watching Lucy Meacock, and I was quite jealous of her. wanting to be her…
Carmella studied journalism at Staffordshire university and “learned the basics”. She graduated in the middle of the economic slump and after working briefly at the university press office she took a job as PA to the dean of Chester Cathedral. She “absolutely loved” this period of her life, and enjoyed the team she worked with including Chester character “Jono from the Suns”. However, although she was doing some writing on the side, she wasn’t using her degree, and when a temporary job with the Chester Chronicle became available she took the risk.
“It was 6 months maternity cover.. bearing in mind I had started doing an MBA funded by the Cathedral, I was worried about giving up a steady job.” She credits Mike Green (news editor at the time, now editor) with giving her the chance.
“I had a degree but I didn’t have a lot of journalism experience. Mike said he saw something in me, that I would make a good journalist. I owe it to him” she says.
Life at the Chronicle
Carmella enjoys “working for such a good team… we’re like a family,we get some abuse, and we have to stick together. It’s such a high pressured job and it is quite stressful, especially in the digital age. Before , you’d write your story, send it through and it would be in the paper the next week..Now , you have to write the story and as soon as possible get it online. we do get really stressed out..
Of her colleagues shes says David Holmes is an ” absolute character, I’ve learned so much from him. When I was at the Cathedral I was told “watch out!” I was expecting a mean ruthless character, but he’s an absolute pussy cat. We have a right laugh..I sit next to him.
“Lots of my life is my job” with her close friends on the paper including Jo , Fran, and Mike “a great boss” she says. ” I really enjoy going to work every day. I don’t enjoy the trolls…working really hard at something and then one comment saying “you’re shit” basically”. She says she is tired of the phrases “lazy journalism” and “slow new days” ” There is no such thing as a slow news day. I really wish they would come and spend a day at the Chronicle, and see that’s not true!”
She accepts that online content is now increasingly important: “It was totally different back in 2010,everything was building up to the Wednesday afternoon, now if I get a great story, I have to do it straight away, I can’t spend all week working on it. we used to have Thursday and Friday as a chill out because it was so intense on the Wednesday. Now, every single day is intense.
“Facebook and twitter are really helpful to find stories, and you can contact people easily through it.But on the other hand people have an outlet, to just say what they like. they probably wouldn’t have the balls to say it to your face, but its easy to type abuse. there was one individual who used facebook to get personal with me. There’s no need for some of the things that people say” But at the same time she understands that people will have opinions on things that she writes. ” When you’re quite a sensitive person like me, it can be quite hurtful, you’ve just got to “Not feed the trolls” and not let it get to you.”
“The good thing about my job is that its so varied. One minute you’ll be interviewing a cheesemaker, the next thing you’ll be covering a murder trial. Over the years Carmella has interviewed the likes of : Craig Revel-Horwood (repeatedly called her “darling”), Dave Spikey, Nathan from The Wanted, Michael Owen, Maria from Corrie, June from the Zoo (“lovely woman.. so sad when she died) ..Best of all was the love of her teenage life, Ritchie from 5ive, whom she had on her pencil-case when she was younger. “It was the highlight of my career to interview him and I told him I used to wish he’d marry me!” she smiles. More recently she interviewed TV legend Timmy Mallet after a visit to Chester.
This year we’ve had lots of people visiting Chester especially in the run up to the election. Ed Balls, Boris Johnson. Me and Dave Holmes went on the campaign trial with him ,it was a great experience.
“The election was really exciting. one of the best experiences of my life. It was a classic example of team Chron. Dave, Fran, me- we had about 2 hours sleep over the period.” As the fate of the borough was revealed, ” it was exhilarating. the atmosphere in that Northgate was electric.”
At the other side of the scale, Carmella enjoyed writing about the opening of Wayne Walker (quality and value) in the Forum, because she loved “coming up with the meat puns!”
“The zoo has been exciting. the new islands tour. I’m really excited about Chester, its gonna be good in the next few years”
“I’m really lucky to have my own page. I love how I can write about whatever I like and they trust me to do that ” Since 2011 when the column debuted ” I’ve changed it from focusing on different women to become more issue based” One such example is the cervical cancer screening campaign, which MP Chris Matheson is now backing. Another is Carmella’s articles about support for victims of rape. Carmella says a woman who had been raped contacted her and asked her to write about sources of emotional and practical support.
” I love that I can use it as an outlet for things that help people. I do fiercely protect the women’s page.”
“I do think that Chester is quite a thriving place to be, I know a lot of people have a low opinion of it, but I’m fiercely protective of Chester. I think it’s a great city, today we’re doing Pride… that wouldn’t have happened 5 years ago. everyone is excited and happy to be here, and when the theatre comes, it will be a real big thing. I was in the Gateway youth theatre for 5 years, I met Steph Brocken (Minerva Arts founder) , I loved it. I was in a couple of plays The Silver Sword and Nicolas Nickelby. I feel really happy here!
” I don’t really have a lot of time outside of work. I try to go to the gym, I love reading. When I get home from work I am exhausted mentally so I don’t have the time to do anything apart from watch The Sopranos. I love old music. I am a big fan of Bryan Adams, I have seen him in concert nine times!”
” I love bands like REM, Fleetwood Mac. I listen to music constantly all day when I’m writing. I just wish I had a bit more time to relax, but because of the nature of the job it’s not always that easy
“I’d love to stay with the Chron, Id hope to get into more feature based work. who knows what will happen. ive built a name for myself, in a way. people know my name, when I ring up…(pause) … don’t make out I’m all up myself !!” she laughs
Thanks to Carmella De Lucia