How did you get where you are?
I began at the Halifax Evening Courier in 1990 before moving to the York Press in August that year, where I was a reporter, mainly covering the magistrates and crown court.
What are the main tasks you do?
I’m normally in the office, checking stories that come in, making sure they’re OK, news editing. I also check any feature opportunities that may come out of those stories and make sure that pictures are fielded correctly.
What’s the key to reporting the courts?
The only way you can report the courts properly is through experience. Obviously, you need your shorthand and you need to produce fair, accurate and balanced reports. But the only way to do it properly is through being on the ground, getting in with the barristers and court officials, making friends with ushers, court police and witness service officers. When covering crown court, you could have anything up to 20 court rooms and if there’s just one of you covering that whole court building, you’re relying on tips.
What’s the key to success?
Make sure you have that news sense and the wit to ferret out stories. It’s something you don’t learn. That’s the reason why the best journalists have always been born with great news sense, rather than having learned it. You should know your limitations when you’re out there and always think pictures all the time. If it’s got a picture, it’s got much more chance of getting in the paper.
What’s the best and worst part of the job?
The worst is the traumatic side of things. We speak to many grieving people – some will want to speak to press, some won’t. Cases involving children are particularly hard. The best part is the variety. It’s not just court – it’s real life.