It was a university open day when the course leader (wisely, it turned out) showed us a picture of a Ferrari…and told us to forget about owning one if we chose to study journalism.
The somewhat odd introduction didn’t ultimately sway me away from pursuing the job I had dreamed of since secondary school.
You don’t get into journalism for the salary, particularly in the early days. It’s more the excitement of never knowing how your working day will pan out, opening doors to opportunities normal folk never experience and the duty of holding those in power to account.
After studying for a journalism degree at Portsmouth University, I was lucky enough to secure a freelance job at the Worthing Herald, in Sussex, a couple of months after graduating.
Around six months later, I was a full-time trainee reporter and two years on, after covering everything from 100th birthdays to fatal house fires, I passed my exams to become a senior journalist.
I moved up from acting chief reporter to the lofty-sounding role of deputy political editor for all the titles my company (Johnston Press) owned in Sussex. Political reporting is somewhat of a Liquorice Allsorts job – an acquired taste in a ‘do you enjoy sitting in 150+ council meetings a year, mostly in the evenings’ sort of way.
As you might imagine, late-night planning meetings don’t complement parenthood as well as cheese and crackers. It was a welcome boost, then, when my colleague decided to have a second baby (doubling the work of having one child seems a cavalier concept in my early days of childcare!).
I have now taken over my double-baby-producing colleague and am content editor for four papers: the Worthing, Shoreham and Lancing Heralds and the Littlehampton Gazette. I also work on Johnston Press’s national investigative journalism unit, a project which saw our latest work featured on the front page of the i newspaper for a couple of days running.
Content editor means I have some ‘powers’ but have yet to reach overlord status of ‘deputy editor’ or ‘editor in chief’, the latter of which deals with the really important stuff.
Content editors oversee the weekly news agenda. They direct the reporters, decide where stories should go in the paper and advise how they should be developed, help choose the front page story (the splash), edit, proofread and send pages to the press and no-doubt from time to time try to pacify the angry caller when the occasional complaint comes in.
I’m just finding my feet in my new role but in theory, it should mean more time for the family in the evenings. In reality, we are a small team and those councillors might still get a surprise visit now and again!
I’ll try to provide an insight into the industry but do let me know if you have any questions and I’ll do my best to answer them.