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Top political journalists inspire Harlow College students

Visiting journalists

Two of Britain’s leading journalists visited Harlow College on December 5th and told students: ‘You can have a great life as a journalist.’

Kevin Maguire, associate editor of the Daily Mirror and Andrew Pierce, consultant editor of the Daily Mail, talked to students about the reality of breaking into the journalism industry.

Both agreed that to make it in their industry, aspiring writers must: ‘Be nosy. Even when you feel shy, be confident. You’ve got to be thick skinned.’

They told students that they loved reporting politics, and enjoyed the chance to: ‘Punch up at the powerful rather than down at the weak.’

Following an introductory statement from each of the two journalists who are also long-standing friends, students went on to ask an array of questions.

Topics varied from questions regarding the conduct of Maguire and Pierce’s employers, to the ways in which their own personal opinions influenced their work.

Discussing the equality of the sexes in the industry they said that today the process of getting into journalism was virtually identical for men and women. However, according to Maguire, 30 years ago ‘Fleet Street was rude, rough, tough, and incredibly sexist.’

Both Maguire and Pierce described local papers as, ‘The backbone of the journalism industry,’ and told the students to start creating portfolios to enable them to stand out in what is traditionally an over-crowded profession.

Students asked whether the pair had ever had issues within their friendship due to their strongly opposed political stances – to anyone in the room it was clear that their dispositions are in fact, what ties these two companions together.

The final question asked by students was: ‘What is the worst thing about journalism?’ To this, both admitted they found long, unpredictable hours a challenge. However, they were both adamant that, ‘I don’t know anyone with a job I’d rather do.’

Both Maguire and Pierce originate from working class backgrounds, and worked their way up the ranks to get to where they are today. Let’s hope Harlow College students can replicate their success!

By Rhiannon Gallery, NCTJ Journalism student