What It’s Really Like To Be a Reporter-At-Large
What does your job involve?
I’m a reporter for DailyMail.com, based in New York. My job involves traveling across the U.S. and occasionally internationally, working on a mix of breaking news stories, interviews and investigative pieces. I cover everything from politics and crime to the environment, social issues and celebrity news.
How did you become a Reporter-at-Large?
While I was at university, I worked on the student newspaper and decided I wanted to make journalism my career. After university, I landed a place on the Daily Mail trainee scheme in London. I spent around nine months at the Belfast Telegraph, where I learned a great deal, and then moved to Dublin to join the Irish Daily Mail. After a few years working on news and then the features desk, I returned to London to join the MailOnline team and then after six months got an offer to go to New York to help launch DailyMail.com.
Describe your typical day:
When I am on the road, no two days are the same: I can be up at 5am to catch a flight, spend all day working on a story and then be writing an article in my hotel room at 10pm. When I’m not traveling, I normally start work around 7.30am. I spend some time reading the news on our site, the New York Times, New York Post, Washington Post, BBC, the Guardian, the New Yorker, LA Times, TMZ, WSJ… the list goes on. I also check what’s on the morning shows on CNN, MSNBC, CNBC, Today and BBC World News America. I reply to any urgent emails/texts I’ve missed overnight first thing. I am an incessant list-maker – and I normally have several lists for different subjects – on current stories I’m working on, people to get in touch with, story ideas.
Being a journalist allows you to witness world events first-hand and I’ve been fortunate to be able to share the stories of many different people. I try to remember this in the times that the job can be frustrating or tiring or deeply upsetting.
What are the most challenging aspects of your job?
It’s a rapidly evolving industry. I started my career writing for a daily newspaper, with a daily deadline and now I write predominantly online articles in a 24-hour news cycle – so you have to be open to change. DailyMail.com launched a TV show in the U.S. last year so that has been another learning curve. I like the challenge of learning new skills and will happily take the advice of those more experienced in the field.
The most rewarding?
I’ve met some incredible people – the De Giron family in Honduras who were fighting for healthcare for their baby girl after she was born with microcephaly caused by the Zika virus and survivors of domestic and sexual abuse who have bravely shared their #MeToo stories. I have also met and interviewed many people who have overcome devastating natural disasters and mass shootings.
Does your position involve a lot of travel?
I travel most weeks. My work has taken me to 42 U.S. states, Canada, South America, the Caribbean and the Philippines.
A few words of wisdom to would-be Reporters?
Get out there and talk to people, pick up the phone. It seems simple but you’re not going to get a story while sitting silently behind a desk. Be meticulous on the details.
Tell us about a recent career highlight:
One of most important moments for me was witnessing the Sioux Tribe of the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota celebrate when President Obama blocked the Dakota pipeline after their months of protest. It was a short-lived victory until the new administration came in but after all that the tribe had gone through, it was an incredibly emotional day.
What’s the biggest misconception about your job?
That it’s high drama all the time. The reality is that there is a lot of waiting around for people and sifting through piles of documents. And the travel is rarely glamorous!
Sum up your career aspirations in a sentence:
Report news stories with fairness.