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How I got into investigative journalism

Patricia Cruz



Investigative reporter and alumna Vicky Gayle shares how she got into investigative journalism.

Holding power to account, uncovering secrets, and telling stories that make a difference… these might be just some of the reasons why you want to be a journalist.

Investigative journalists have some of the most exciting jobs in the industry and are the subjects of countless TV dramas, films, and documentaries.

But what is it really like to be an investigative journalist? And what does it take to become one?

We spoke with Vicky Gayle, health inequality reporter for the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, about how she got into investigative journalism and her advice for people wanting to break into the industry.


What made you want to become an investigative journalist?

My intention has always been to write articles that mean something and for my journalism to be useful and impactful.

Investigations are typically long-form and require intense focus, which suits my personality and writing style, and lets me produce work that matters to readers.

What was your path to a journalism career?

I began writing in my teens and contributed to different local publications in Birmingham.

A youth magazine asked me to be an editor, so I managed a team of writers and edited their work from my dorm room during my first year at university.

I did the usual – university paper, starting blogs, doing unpaid work placements – and was constantly writing.

After university, I took a few years out and worked at a secondary school before enrolling on the postgraduate NCTJ course in Manchester.

After completing my NCTJ, I landed a trainee job at the Daily Gazette in Colchester.

Read how to make the most of student media here.

What does an average day look like in your current role?

My day as a health and inequality reporter at the Bureau Local will vary depending on what stage of a project we’re at, but there’s always a lot to juggle.

If we’re at the beginning ‘scoping’ stage, I’m reading a lot, contacting people for interviews, and establishing my subject knowledge.

Our latest project will be published next week, so I’m fact-checking, providing evidence, giving feedback on illustrations, and answering questions from different colleagues.          

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What is your favourite investigative story you’ve written?

A data-led investigation into systemic barriers for deaf people trying to access mainstream mental health support is one of my favourite published stories.

Even when others didn’t agree, I pushed to do the story because I knew how important it was, so I’m proud of myself for believing in my own editorial judgement.

Deaf people’s health still doesn’t get enough attention.

Are there any journalists who inspire you?

I don’t idolise any journalists. There are a lot of people doing great work and I see and respect that, particularly the older journos whose wisdom I’ve always valued.

I have a lot of admiration for anyone challenging the status-quo in journalism, who have launched their own platforms or are working on documentaries.


What are your three top tips for carrying out an investigation?

  1. Question everything. Even when you think you’ve established the answer, double check, and purposely look for what you might have missed.
  2. Develop a thicker skin. It’s hard when your work is being scrutinised to not take it personally, but in my experience, my colleagues are doing what our readers will eventually do – picking holes. Remember that and embrace the feedback.
  3. Don’t skip steps. Investigations are like dissertations and each step is important to the next. Be clear on what you’re doing and what the story is, as it becomes more complex later on.

What are the biggest mistakes aspiring journalists make?

Not using their location to their advantage enough. News is everywhere so make use of your connections and local communities.

That gives you a lot of scope to create interesting pitches for local and national outlets, and there are many specialist and independent titles to build your portfolio and write about niche topics.

Should you specialise early or try to be an all-rounder?

There is no right or wrong answer to whether a person should specialise or not. However, if you know you’re passionate about health or criminal justice, for example, it will absolutely work in your favour to build up subject knowledge and contacts in that field.

Eventually, those contacts will lead to tip-offs and all journalists want those.

I came into investigations via data journalism. You build up the skills and techniques the more ambitious your stories become – as you should in any newsroom.

What qualifications do you need?

You don’t need a degree for journalism full stop, but I will always encourage an NCTJ qualification, including shorthand.

Relying on audio recordings isn’t ideal and you can’t do regional or local news reporting properly without shorthand.            

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What are your biggest takeaways from doing an NCTJ course?

Shorthand becomes fun and once you’ve mastered it, you’ll be proud of yourself.

When doing the course, you should write for local publications like Mancunian Matters and take it seriously. You’ll use those same skills when you start working in the industry and the articles will be included in your portfolio.

I knew having an NCTJ would get me a junior reporter job and that job led to where I am now.

Whether you want to go into investigative journalism, entertainment writing, sports reporting or political correspondence, we cover it all at !

Find out more about our NCTJ Multimedia Journalism diploma courses here.

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The benefits of practicing mindfulness and how to start

Alice Trout



In today’s fast-paced world, it’s easy to get caught up in the chaos of everyday life. Between work, family, and other responsibilities, we often forget to take care of ourselves. This is where mindfulness comes in. Mindfulness is the practice of being present in the moment, without judgment. In this article, we will explore the benefits of practicing mindfulness and how to start.

Benefits of Practicing Mindfulness

  1. Reduces stress and anxiety

Mindfulness can help to reduce stress and anxiety levels. By focusing on the present moment, you can calm your mind and reduce racing thoughts.

  1. Improves mental clarity

Practicing mindfulness can improve mental clarity and focus. It can help to clear your mind of distractions and increase productivity.

  1. Enhances self-awareness

Mindfulness can increase self-awareness and help you to understand your thoughts and emotions better. By being present in the moment, you can learn to recognize your patterns of thinking and behavior.

  1. Improves relationships

Mindfulness can help to improve relationships by increasing empathy and compassion. By being present with others, you can develop a deeper understanding of their needs and feelings.

How to Start Practicing Mindfulness

  1. Set aside time

Set aside a specific time every day to practice mindfulness. It can be as little as 5-10 minutes per day to start.

  1. Find a quiet space

Find a quiet space where you won’t be disturbed. It could be a quiet corner of your home or a quiet park.

  1. Focus on your breath

Focus on your breath and the physical sensations of breathing. Notice the rise and fall of your chest and the sensation of air moving in and out of your body.

  1. Be present

Allow yourself to be present in the moment without judgment. Let your thoughts and emotions come and go without dwelling on them.

  1. Practice regularly

Make mindfulness a regular practice. It takes time to develop the habit, but the benefits are worth it.

In conclusion, practicing mindfulness can have numerous benefits for our mental and physical well-being. It’s a simple yet powerful practice that can be incorporated into our daily lives. By setting aside a few minutes each day to practice mindfulness, we can reduce stress and anxiety, improve mental clarity, and enhance our relationships. So why not give it a try? Your mind and body will thank you for it.

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How to create a perfect morning routine for a productive day

Alice Trout



Do you ever feel like your day has gotten away from you before it even starts? One way to combat this feeling is to create a perfect morning routine. Establishing a routine can help you start your day off on the right foot, and set the tone for a productive and successful day. Here are some tips on how to create a morning routine that works for you.

Determine Your Priorities

Before you start creating a morning routine, it’s important to determine what your priorities are. What are the things that you want to accomplish in the morning? Do you want to exercise, meditate, or have a healthy breakfast? Once you have a list of your priorities, you can start creating a routine that includes them.

Wake Up at the Same Time Every Day

Waking up at the same time every day can help regulate your body’s natural sleep cycle and make it easier to fall asleep at night. Try to wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends. This can help establish a consistent routine and make it easier to stick to.

Take Time for Yourself

Many people feel rushed and stressed in the morning, but taking some time for yourself can help alleviate this feeling. Whether it’s meditating, reading a book, or simply enjoying a cup of coffee, taking time for yourself can help you start your day feeling calm and centered.


Exercise is a great way to start your day, as it can help increase your energy levels and improve your mood. Whether it’s a quick jog, yoga practice, or weightlifting session, try to include some form of exercise in your morning routine.

Eat a Healthy Breakfast

Breakfast is often called the most important meal of the day, and for good reason. Eating a healthy breakfast can help fuel your body and provide the energy you need to start your day. Try to include protein, whole grains, and fruit or vegetables in your breakfast.

Plan Your Day

Taking a few minutes to plan your day can help you stay focused and productive. Make a to-do list or set priorities for the day, and review your calendar to make sure you’re prepared for any meetings or appointments.

Stick to Your Routine

Once you’ve created a morning routine that works for you, try to stick to it as much as possible. Consistency is key, and sticking to your routine can help establish healthy habits and improve your overall productivity.

In conclusion, creating a perfect morning routine can help set the tone for a productive and successful day. By determining your priorities, waking up at the same time every day, taking time for yourself, exercising, eating a healthy breakfast, planning your day, and sticking to your routine, you can create a morning routine that works for you. Remember, it’s all about finding what works best for you and your lifestyle.

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10 simple yet effective ways to reduce stress in your daily life

Alice Trout



Stress is an inevitable part of our lives, but it can have a negative impact on our mental and physical health if left unchecked. Fortunately, there are several simple yet effective ways to reduce stress in our daily lives. In this article, we will explore 10 such methods that you can easily incorporate into your routine.

Exercise regularly

Physical activity is an excellent way to relieve stress. It helps to release endorphins, which are natural mood-boosters. You don’t have to engage in high-intensity workouts to reap the benefits. Even a brisk walk or light yoga can help reduce stress levels.

Get enough sleep

Lack of sleep can cause irritability, mood swings, and increase stress levels. Make sure you get at least 7-8 hours of sleep every night to feel well-rested and refreshed.

Practice deep breathing

Deep breathing techniques such as diaphragmatic breathing can help to calm your mind and body. Inhale deeply through your nose and exhale slowly through your mouth. Repeat this for a few minutes to feel relaxed.

Spend time in nature

Spending time in nature can have a calming effect on your mind and body. Take a walk in the park or go for a hike in the woods to feel rejuvenated.

Practice mindfulness meditation

Mindfulness meditation involves focusing on the present moment without judgment. It can help to reduce stress and anxiety levels. Set aside a few minutes every day to practice mindfulness meditation.

Listen to music

Music has a soothing effect on our minds. Listening to calming music can help to reduce stress levels. Create a playlist of your favorite relaxing tunes and listen to it when you feel stressed.

Practice yoga or tai chi

Yoga and tai chi are ancient practices that combine physical postures and breathing techniques. They can help to reduce stress levels and promote relaxation.

Connect with loved ones

Talking to friends and family members can help to reduce stress levels. It can provide a sense of comfort and support during challenging times.

Practice gratitude

Focusing on the positive aspects of life can help to reduce stress levels. Make a habit of practicing gratitude by writing down things you are thankful for every day.

Take breaks

Taking short breaks throughout the day can help to reduce stress levels. Go for a short walk, practice deep breathing or simply take a few moments to close your eyes and relax.

In conclusion, stress is a part of life, but it doesn’t have to take over. By incorporating these simple yet effective methods into your daily routine, you can reduce stress levels and improve your overall well-being. Remember, taking care of yourself should always be a top priority.

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