On par with an Instagram poll, I’ll be increasing the journalism content here on the blog. For today’s post, I spoke to Cristina Criddle, a BBC broadcast journalist. Not only does she a job at an organisation I would love to work for, she is also a lifestyle and travel blogger at CriddleMeThis.com. I spoke to her about all things journalism, and among other things, Cheesecake.
What was it that inspired you to become a journalist?
I knew I wanted to be a journalist since the age of 12. I can’t pinpoint what exactly inspired it but I realised it gave you a license to be nosy and to tell stories in a creative way. Since then, I wrote as much as I could, joined the school magazine, edited the university paper and gained as much experience as possible working at media organisations in my holidays.
Do you have any ‘journalism heroes’?
So many! George Orwell, Christopher Hitchens, AA Gill, Stacey Dooley, Lynn Barber, Caitlin Moran, Kate Adie… I could go on
What was it about the industry that appealed to you, enough so that you wanted the job?
I think from the outside journalism seems really glamorous! It does have its perks, you have access to important people and places all over the world, but it is hard work and a lot of it is spent behind a desk.
I suppose the biggest appeal is getting out and about, and meeting so many different people from different walks of life.
Do you have any formal training? If not, do you think work experience is the way forward?
I was very lucky to get onto the Telegraph Graduate Scheme which included training with the Press Association. On that scheme, I learnt shorthand, media law and what makes a good story, as well as how to tell it. Without that training, I probably would have done a masters in journalism.
Other than that, work experience is a great way to learn. You pick up so much on the job but you have to come with ideas and enthusiasm, else the editors won’t give you opportunities or remember you.
Where do you see yourself in five years time?
I think it’s best to focus on doing the job you have at the moment well, rather than look for the next thing. Definitely still in journalism and hopefully still loving it!
What has been your favourite story you have been involved with?
In my print career, one of my best stories was published while I was on work experience and I tracked down an Islamic State bride. It was nominated for a press award and I learnt loads about investigative journalism. I also really enjoyed reporting on Muirfield Golf Club’s vote to allow women to be members.
At the BBC, I loved working on the recent general election, a Coastal Britain series for BBC Breakfast and too many important news stories to count!
How do you go about interviewing someone?
I always try to make the interviewee feel as comfortable as possible (to begin with at least). I focus on keeping my body language open, which often helps them open up, and start with some easy questions that they know the answers to. Then, once they’re at ease, you can try some tougher ones!
How do you deal with nerves when interviewing someone?
Open questions are your friend here. I always try to start with ‘Can you tell me what happened in your own words…?’, which makes them ease into the interview with a long answer, giving you time to relax and focus on the interview. If you get stuck, don’t be afraid to say ‘Sorry, would you mind if I take a moment to read over my notes?’, silence gives the interviewee time to think and often they might want to fill the silence themselves.
What do you think is the best way to gather stories?
Social media is a huge resource for stories, I set up my Tweetdeck with searches and lists to help me look. I also use Freedom of Information requests but they are quite time-consuming. Another great way is the traditionalword of mouth – get out and about, speak to as many people as possible, having a finger on the pulse is crucial.
Do you have any tips for aspiring journalists?
Hopefully, I’ve covered a few! My top tip is just to be persistent – it’s hard work and you’ll get knocked back a lot on the way, but if you really want to be a journalist, keep at it.
Random: what do you prefer-cheesecake or Chocolate cake?
Chocolate! But cheescake is a very close second 😉
Thank you to Cristina for answering these questions; to view her blog, click here.