What’s it like working as a journalist today? In our latest blog in the meet the journalist series, we spoke to Emma Storr, Staff Writer at DC Publishing Ltd. and recent graduate about the transition from studying journalism to working in the industry full time.
Emma graduated from Glasgow Caledonian University with a first-class Honours degree in Multimedia Journalism in July this year. The very next day she went back into her role as a Staff Writer, which she had started as soon as her studies came to an end.
We spoke to Emma about the importance of good relationships between a PR and a journalist, her career highlights so far and her advice for graduates.
What do you read/ where do you get your news?
“I read a lot of magazines, I always have. I tend to go between topics and titles when it comes to this though. Sometimes I’ll pick up a copy of Vogue or Cosmo because of who is on the cover or I’ll grab a copy of something like Oh Comely because I like the theme of that issue.
“In terms of news I am ashamed to say that I get most, if not all, of my news online through news websites, apps or social media streams. I think it’s the best way to keep up to date. It would be nice to say I’m dedicated to buying a newspaper a day, but the reality is news is 24 hours a day and is delivered that way too.”
Did you always know you wanted to be a journalist?
“I honestly can’t remember a moment where I thought to myself this is what I want to do now. Writing is always something I enjoyed, and I always loved learning about things. I have the tendency to be very nosey and want to know all of the details about a situation so I think that it was more of a natural progression than a straight choice one day.
“There was a time where I thought it maybe wasn’t the most practical career choice but my parents always drilled in to me that the most important thing is that you are happy, and writing made me happy. Getting experience and a job was definitely as hard as I expected but it was very much worth the effort.”
What have been your career highlights?
“Despite getting a lot of experience under my belt in the last five years I would say my career really started once I finished classes at university and started my current job.
“It’s difficult to pick a highlight of that. I work across eight titles that cover everything from disability lifestyle to resettling after serving in the Armed Forces to the top 10 kitchen storage hacks.
“If I had to pick a moment in my five months working here though I would say it was an interview I had with an amazing young woman who had suffered with an eating disorder for over six years. Not only was she open when talking about her experiences she was doing it because she wanted to help other young people who might be struggling but worry about seeking help and speaking up. She was the same age as me and I found her such an inspiring person, I felt very honoured to tell her story and despite not knowing her outside of this one conversation I felt very proud of her.
“When the interview was published in student title Source she emailed me to thank me for giving her the opportunity and it really was the cherry on top.”
What’s the best advice you have ever been given?
“You can never have enough ideas. You should always be looking for ideas, thinking about them, developing them even if you don’t have somewhere to write them for yet.”
What are the advantages of a good journalist / PR relationship?
“I think if you can build up a good rapport then they will help you by setting up an interview or getting approval for an article in time for the deadline. Good PRs provide endless help with case studies, interviews, fact checking, sourcing images. It means I really try to have a good relationship with a PR because I know how valuable they are.”
What’s the worst habit of a PR?
“This is my biggest pet peeve in general, but not replying to emails quickly or trying to push a deadline to after the print date!”
What challenges do journalists face today?
“Definitely trying to keep up with the changing digital landscape. It really does mean that anyone can be a journalist if they try hard enough and learn the right laws and ethical standards. It’s more important than ever to push yourself and prove you deserve work.”
How do you prefer PRs get in touch with you?
“Always email as a first port of call, there’s nothing worse than a PR calling you about a press release they sent five minutes prior that you haven’t replied to because you were on another call doing an interview. Despite that if it’s urgent or someone who has an interview or story they know we would love then I’m more than happy to receive a phone call, especially if we’re up against a deadline and they have a contact for that one last case study we need.”
What stories / angles are you looking for?
“This is a difficult one to answer really, because we work across such a wide range of topics there’s often a place for anything or something can be investigated to find the angle that works for one of our titles.”
What advice would you give to graduates looking for a job in journalism?
“Try your hardest, apply for as many jobs as you can and don’t be disheartened by rejection. That’s easier said than done but I applied for 17 jobs before I was offered the interview for my current position. It was my first interview as an almost graduate and then I was offered the job!”
How different is studying journalism to actually working in it?
“This all depends on what area you want to work in and what areas your degree covered. For me I had covered a lot of what I do while at university as well as working on a student magazine, so it isn’t that different.
“The one thing that is the complete opposite is the workload and the pace. We’re a team of three writers working on five titles at once that also have supplements and special editions. On an average day we work on between seven and 10 magazines at once, at university you got a whole day to do one thing. The idea of that is crazy to me now!”
How did you find the transition from study to career?
“I think the most difficult thing was the fact you had more uniform hours! Working a 9-5 Monday to Friday is a dream but it’s a lot more tiring than you expect at first. The pace was also something that was difficult, but I was keen to prove they made the right decision offering me the job so made sure to push myself, now that pace is just normal for me.”