I’ve been working with colleagues on these pages for the past few months:

Winterwatch – data and commentary on how the NHS has coped during the Winter of 2010/11

Health and care – ongoing coverage and conversations about changes to the NHS and public health in England

Both sets of pages use WordPress and in the midst of some editing and publishing this morning, the work I was doing struck me as being remarkably familiar.

My first job was as a reporter at Chronicle Newspapers in Kent. Back then I used to research stories, write copy and help with the planning of each week’s paper.

My career moved on to magazines, and publishing technology, on- and off-line became even better. Out went the compositor with his scalpels, in came the Mac-savvy Quark wizard.

An old Apple Mac SE

An old Mac, tight deadlines but with freedom to create - an experience faithfully recreated by WordPress. Image courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/mrmonochrome/

From independent magazines I moved to custom publishing, B2B journals such as European Pharmaceutical Review, and back to custom publishing for a short while. More and more work was delivered online in the form of websites and social media and at the same time my roles started to change too: less and less writing and creative input, much more management. That was OK though; I genuinely enjoy planning, management and administration. But it also meant that the production work became more technical and more specialist.

I started at Department of Health (DH) in July 2009 and, I thought, that was that. My new role wasn’t necessarily going to involve creating and publishing any original content. It didn’t matter to me too much, because I had my own blogs and Twitter to feed the writing habit.

Then we launched a WordPress platform at DH for greater flexibility, and it opened up all sorts of possibilities. We’re now commissioning and editing content in a much more dynamic and imaginative way than we ever could previously. Our work can be more reactive, because publishing to WordPress is so quick and easy. No long lead-times, complicated cross-linking or rigid page layouts. Today, the process feels much more like it used to be at the paper: writing up the AGM of the local Women’s Institute and sending it ‘down the wire’ to the print room.

WordPress is not without its limitations of course, and anyone can tell just by reading this blog that I am no expert. My colleagues can take the credit for the good stuff at DH.

But, 11 years later, in a completely different sector, in an organisation 3000 times larger than the first, I feel closer to that tiny newsroom than I have done in a long while.