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A day in the life of a political journalist

Patricia Cruz

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Political journalist Adam Payne shared his experience of building contacts and developing his career as a lobby reporter during an exciting time in British politics.

Adam is a senior correspondent at Politics Home, soon to be their new political editor, covering everything from Brexit and Westminster politics to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Having studied with in Manchester, he previously worked for Business Insider for five years before joining Politics Home where he has covered the recent Tory party infighting, Boris Johnson’s leadership, and Partygate.

At our online guest talk, he described the highs and lows of political reporting and shared advice for those wanting to follow in his footsteps.

How did you launch your career as a political journalist?

I made Brexit my beat very early on. When the Brexit referendum result came in, it was the most amazing sense of shock. There were clear political ramifications, but no-one knew what that meant.

The level of public and political knowledge about the EU and the UK’s relationship with it was quite low, so I decided there was a gap in the market and had some success with it.

I was by no means an EU expert – I was learning as I went and learning the jargon.

Is fact-checking a big part of your role?

So much reporting on the EU was hyper-partisan and ideological. I tried to report in a way that was fact-based, seeking to correct myths and falsehoods.

The political climate in this country has been quite toxic and we entered an era when seeking out the truth became more difficult, linked to the Trump phenomenon in the US.

How do you provide balanced reporting?

The vast majority of people who want to go into political journalism are very opinionated.

At you get taught to write free of opinion of agenda, it’s a professional skill and there are checks and balances to ensure you’re not loading your copy with opinion.

Social media is a massive part of journalism and it’s harder to not be opinionated there – my Twitter profile is an extension of my presence on the Politics Home website.

How do you develop sources as a political journalist?

At the beginning I felt huge feelings of imposter syndrome, but you’ve got to start somewhere, emailing MP’s offices and sharing contact numbers with colleagues.

Go for a coffee and develop a relationship with one MP, and then over many months and years it’s an organic process of building up your contact book.

Managing relationships is a big part of political journalism. You’ve got to build that trust – if you have a conversation with them and it’s off-the-record, you should absolutely honour that.

Who are the biggest names you’ve spoken to?

Downing Street hosts drinks for journalists twice a year and I’ve met Boris Johnson several times. I’ve interviewed Keir Starmer, Michael Gove, Liz Truss, Theresa May, Jeremy Corbyn and more.

As a political journalist you’re right at the heart of history, talking to people with incredible decision-making authority. You are very much at the centre for an incredibly important time for our country.

Which story you are most proud of writing?

Two years ago, I was leaked a letter from Liz Truss to Rishi Sunak and Michael Gove about how Brexit preparations were not ready.

That story went massive, all the newspapers picked it up, it was mentioned in Parliament, and I went on radio and TV to talk about it.

In your life you’ll have two or three big stories, and that was definitely one of them.

Do you get to travel as a political journalist?

While covering Brexit I was lucky enough to go out to Brussels and various European Councils, and I got to meet Angela Merkel.

I also spent a week in Northern Ireland doing a piece on communities who were incredibly worried about Brexit and its potential impact.

It felt real and like I’d given a voice to people. It was an amazing experience. If you get an opportunity to travel and go look for the story, I’d absolutely recommend it.

How do you balance work life and personal life?

As journalists you have unfiltered exposure to really bad news. There were points in the pandemic I had to take time off work because the relentlessness of the news was tough.

Most newsrooms now will understand and allow you to take a break if you need it. It’s important to establish your personal boundaries, otherwise you’ll be knackered – and really bad company!

What were your biggest takeaways from your course?

gave me a sense of how much of a skill journalism is, particularly in an era when journalists have quite a bad reputation. To be able to write a news story quickly and cleanly is quite hard.

Before doing the course, the thought of ringing an MP out of the blue would make me shake with anxiety – we were given practical experience that gave me the confidence to be a journalist dealing with people.

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What are your top tips for aspiring journalists?

Establishing a beat and devoting most of my energies to it is probably why I am here today.

It’s very easy to feel like you don’t belong and that you’re not qualified and not worthy. It took me a while to muster the courage to grab a microphone at a press conference and ask a question.

If you’re ever at an event and you’re surrounded by high profile people, don’t feel like they have more rights than you – you have earnt your right to be there. Be confident, back yourself.

Any political journalists needs to learn how to be a good news reporter first. Come along to our free journalism workshops to try your hand at news reporting and write a breaking news story.

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Journalism

The Top Journalism Websites for News and Analysis”

Alice Trout

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Journalism plays an essential role in keeping the public informed about current events and issues. The internet has made it easier than ever to access a wide range of news and analysis from reputable sources. Here are some of the best journalism sites for keeping up-to-date on the latest happenings around the world:

  1. The New York Times (www.nytimes.com) – The New York Times is a well-respected newspaper that has been in operation for over 150 years. It offers a wide range of news and analysis on politics, business, technology, and culture.
  2. The Washington Post (www.washingtonpost.com) – The Washington Post is another well-respected newspaper that has been in operation for over 150 years. It offers in-depth coverage of national and international news, as well as commentary on politics, business, and more.
  3. The Guardian (www.theguardian.com) – The Guardian is a British newspaper that offers a wide range of news and analysis on politics, business, technology, and culture. It has a strong reputation for investigative journalism and has won numerous awards.
  4. BBC News (www.bbc.com/news) – BBC News is the online news division of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). It offers a wide range of news and analysis on international, national, and regional events.
  5. Al Jazeera (www.aljazeera.com) – Al Jazeera is a Qatari news organization that offers a wide range of news and analysis on international, national, and regional events. It has a strong reputation for its coverage of the Middle East and North Africa.
  6. Reuters (www.reuters.com) – Reuters is a global news organization that offers a wide range of news and analysis on international, national, and regional events. It has a strong reputation for its coverage of business and financial news.
  7. CNN (www.cnn.com) – CNN is a global news organization that offers a wide range of news and analysis on international, national, and regional events. It has a strong reputation for its coverage of breaking news and live events.
  8. The Economist (www.economist.com) – The Economist is a British magazine that offers a wide range of news and analysis on international, national, and regional events, with a focus on economics and politics.
  9. The Atlantic (www.theatlantic.com) – The Atlantic is an American magazine that offers a wide range of news and analysis on international, national, and regional events, with a focus on politics, culture, and technology.
  10. ProPublica (www.propublica.org) – ProPublica is a non-profit organization that focuses on investigative journalism. It has a strong reputation for its coverage of politics, business, and social issues.

Guest blogging is a highly effective marketing strategy that every business should be utilizing. By purchasing PR publications, you can increase traffic and establish authority.

These are just a few examples of the many great journalism websites that are available. Whether you’re looking for breaking news, in-depth analysis, or a particular perspective on current events, these sites are an excellent starting point.

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Journalism

The Ethics of Healthcare Advertising: Balancing the Right to Information with the Risk of Deception

Alice Trout

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Healthcare advertising has the potential to inform and educate the public about important medical treatments and products, but it must be done in an ethical and responsible manner. On one hand, the public has the right to access information about healthcare options that may improve their quality of life or save their lives. On the other hand, there is a risk that healthcare advertising could deceive or mislead consumers, leading to negative consequences for both the companies and the public.

One issue with healthcare advertising is the promotion of prescription drugs for off-label use. Off-label use refers to the use of a drug for a purpose that has not been approved by the regulatory agency, such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States. While it is not illegal for doctors to prescribe drugs for off-label use, it is illegal for pharmaceutical companies to promote drugs for off-label use. This is because the FDA has not determined that the drug is safe and effective for the unapproved use.

Unfortunately, some pharmaceutical companies have been known to engage in off-label promotion in order to increase sales. This can be harmful to patients, as they may be prescribed a drug that has not been thoroughly tested for the specific condition they are suffering from. In some cases, off-label use of a drug can even be dangerous.

Another issue with healthcare advertising is the use of exaggerated or misleading claims. This can include making false or unproven statements about the effectiveness of a drug or treatment, or downplaying the risks and side effects. Such practices can lead to consumers making informed decisions about their healthcare, and can also harm the reputation of the healthcare industry as a whole.

In order to strike a balance between the right to information and the risk of deception, it is important for both regulatory agencies and the healthcare industry to prioritize ethical practices in healthcare advertising. This can include measures such as strict oversight by regulatory agencies, clear guidelines for the approval and review of advertising materials, and campaigns to educate the public about how to evaluate and interpret healthcare advertising. By taking these steps, we can ensure that the public has access to accurate and reliable information about healthcare options, while also protecting against deceptive practices that can harm both consumers and the healthcare industry.

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Journalism

Supporting Startup Founders’ Mental Health: The Importance of Prioritizing Well-Being in the Fast-Paced Startup World

Alice Trout

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As the startup world continues to thrive and grow, it’s important to recognize that the fast-paced, high-stress environment can take a toll on the mental health of founders and employees. In fact, research has shown that entrepreneurs are at a higher risk for mental health issues such as anxiety and depression compared to the general population.

One key factor that contributes to this risk is the pressure to succeed and the fear of failure that can come with starting and running a business. Additionally, the long hours and lack of work-life balance that are often associated with the startup world can also contribute to mental health challenges.

It’s essential that startups prioritize the mental health of their founders and employees, not only for the well-being of the individual, but also for the overall success of the business. Research has shown that mental health issues can negatively impact productivity and decision-making, which can have serious consequences for a company.

There are a few steps that startups can take to support the mental health of their team members:

  1. Encourage open communication and create a safe space for employees to talk about their mental health concerns.
  2. Offer resources such as counseling and mental health benefits to employees.
  3. Foster a culture of self-care by promoting healthy habits such as regular exercise and proper nutrition.
  4. Set boundaries and encourage work-life balance to prevent burnout.

For those not ready to go to the doctor or looking for support, mental health startups Europe offer help through apps.

It’s important to remember that mental health is just as important as physical health, and it’s crucial that startups prioritize the well-being of their founders and employees. By taking steps to support the mental health of their team, startups can create a positive and healthy work environment that leads to success for both the business and its employees.

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