Women in Journalism were delighted to welcome Channel 4 News journalist, presenter and author Cathy Newman in October as the latest guest in our ‘In Conversation’ series.
The University of Westminster kindly hosted current and future journalists at an upbeat evening discussing everything from working to home life. The event took place under Chatham House rules, which made for an intimate eveningchaired by Eleanor Mills, WIJ Chair; editor of the Sunday Times Magazine and editorial director of the Sunday Times.
Cathy explained that she wrote her book, Bloody Brilliant Women: The Pioneers, Revolutionaries and Geniuses your history teacher forgot to mentionto reveal all the extraordinary achievements by women throughout history that other books ignored.
Cathy then went on to discuss how she progressed through her career, starting as media business correspondent at the Independent, then moving to the FT where she became chief political correspondent before joining Channel 4, where the in- depth knowledge of specialist print journalists is valued.
She admitted that at times she doubted her ability, but also emphasised that really doing your homework can be very empowering. She also said not to be afraid to specialise and become an expert, or to join a small trade publication, where you can gain more hands-on experience than in a big media organisation. Eleanor, whose career started writing about containers at Tank World, agreed wholeheartedly.
The Channel 4 News superstar shared two more pieces of advice. The first was to leave your desk at lunchtime and meet your contacts, the second was to be nice to everyone you meet. What goes around comes around.
She also explained that she can combine her career with family life because her husband works from home and takes responsibility for most of the childcare and domestic load. It wasn’t a plan, just how things had worked out and couples should be flexible about work-life balance, she believes. Cathy and Eleanor both urged women to be open about this and not to pretend to be superwomen.
As a frequent target of social media trolls, Cathy suggested developing resilience by limiting your time on social media and reminding yourself of your achievements – advice that the aspiring journalists in the room really appreciated.
The evening rounded off with Cathy kindly staying to sign copies of her book and talk to members of the audience, who also enjoyed networking drinks.
Cathy left lots of students feeling very optimistic about their future careers as journalists. University of Westminster student Eleanor Dalton said, “The openness and honesty from Cathy was so refreshing. Being able to listen and speak to a woman at the top of their game in a safe space was incredible.”
Hannah Wilson, another Westminster student said, “The event was great, especially as a third-year journalism student. To hear a veteran journalist tell us about her time as a woman in the field and the struggles she’s faced was incredibly inspiring. If anything, it has made me so much more excited to get out into the field and become a journalist like Cathy.”
WIJ is very grateful to Lexington Communications and Green & Blacks chocolate for their generous sponsorship of the event and the University of Westminster for hosting .
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