Since going freelance I’ve been finding and selling stories to magazines and newspapers as well as writing for brands and organisations. Before this time of heady freedom I was working as Features Editor of national women’s weekly Best magazine and heading up the Your Life section of its website, Best Daily.
I’ve worked in women’s magazines since 2005, but took a two-year break from 2011 – 2013 to be Deputy Editor of independent local news group Southwark Newspaper Ltd. There I launched a free news and events paper the Lambeth Weekender, which I edited along with the Southwark Weekender. I deputised on the company’s paid-for title, popular local paper the Southwark News. I enjoyed producing covers like these, coming up with content and structure, creating a web site, building up social media and working with a brilliant, small team of dedicated reporters, a sensible news editor and two slightly deranged (but brilliant in their own ways, in case they’re reading this) managing directors.
Being a reporter at that same paper, the Southwark News, in 2004 was my first job in journalism, which I came to after living in France for four years, teaching English and working on documentaries. I loved writing for one of only two independent paid-for titles in the country, I thought I was in 90s TV show Press Gang, but it paid little, so after a year I went to work for National News agency, which paid barely more.
There I was a lone features wolf, attending courts like the Old Bailey and approaching victims of terrible crimes and their families to see if they wanted to speak to me for women’s weeklies. I was amazed by how many did, and I covered some awe-inspiring and heartrending stories of survival and loss, none of which I will ever forget. Though my nightmares have mostly stopped now.
From there I went to Chat magazine as Feature Writer, then was Commissioning Editor at Woman for four years. I loved that job: the pressure, the competition and especially chasing and securing stories. Most memorably I got this story at the time of the Josef Fritzl affair. Who knew there were two Fathers of the Year in 2008 keeping their daughters locked up, raping them and getting them pregnant repeatedly? I found Lydia in France and secured an interview, getting a world exclusive ahead of The Sun! Believe it or not she’s now happily married to someone who is not her father and seems to be a lovely mum to her large brood.
So I’m glad to be back chasing stories again, this time as a freelancer, and was particularly pleased to get an exclusive interview with Sophie Serrano from France, who told me what it was like to find out when her daughter was 10 that she had been accidentally swapped at birth. I’m also enjoying content writing and digital PR for corporate clients as a new challenge.