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Posted On: November 25, 2015

Sophie Gallagher, digital content writer at Goodtoknow

Sophie Gallagher, digital content writer at Goodtoknow

Sophie Gallagher, digital content writer at Goodtoknow

Sophie Gallagher has traveled half way across the world since completing her NCTJ at Brighton Journalist Works.

She is back in the UK now writing for Time Inc lifestyle website Goodtoknow.

Where have you worked since finishing your NCTJ at Brighton Journalist Works?

In my last weeks at BJW I was offered a junior reporter position on a newspaper in the Local World group which I was chuffed with.

However at the same time I was also offered a (completely unrelated job) in America and I didn’t feel like I could turn down the chance to live abroad with a job already set up.

So despite having just trained for 12 weeks to be a journalist I decided to move to Puerto Rico and then Chicago for 18 months, then returned home this summer.

Since I’ve been home I moved around covering holiday and maternity leave at places such as LOOK magazine, Sunday Times and Stylist.

However Time Inc. was where I felt at home and the people here were fantastic to work with – so I stuck with it. Now I’m doing digital content at Goodtoknow.

Describe your average day?

I get in at 9am (earlier than the rest of the team) to get working on news that has been breaking overnight and early in the day.

We have our first meeting at 9.45am where everyone pitches stories for the day and shares the social content they have been working on.

Our newsletter goes to print daily at 1pm so we have to have finished all high priority news stories by then.

The rest of the day can then vary, yesterday I was on a recipe shoot helping to make strawberry Father Christmas treats and yoghurt-dough pizza (nicer than it sounds).

Tomorrow I have a meeting with the head of digital content in Time Inc.

What is the strangest thing that has ever happened to you while working on a story?

It's a pugs life. Image by Eddy Van 3000 on Flickr, licenced by Creative Commons.

It’s a pugs life. Image by Eddy Van 3000 on Flickr, licenced by Creative Commons.

Nothing too bizarre (thankfully) but I do regularly get sent completely unrelated items from PR’s.

Would you like to review dog worming products…? No. Thanks.

Mind you, I’m not sure who would want to review that?

What are your favourite stories you have worked on?

The ones that get people talking.

When you see something that people have really resonated with (that can be hate or love I might add) on Facebook and having conversations with their friends and other people on the page.

Or if lots of people have shared it with their friends and family.

A journalist (much wiser than I) once told me that no one has ever shared anything that didn’t make them feel something.

And I agree with that. So I like when I see that and knowing people have had a reaction to something I’ve sat at my desk writing.

What work are you particularly proud of?

Still to this day I am most proud of something I achieved while on the course at BJW.

I was writing a feature on street food for my portfolio and we had just had a particularly grilling session with one of the guest speakers (I shan’t name names!) who told us that we should be aiming higher and always demanding more from our work – you are already journalists not trainees he said.

So I contacted Giles Coren (food critic for The Times) about the street food feature I was working on and asked for some quotes. He (not so politely) declined. But I emailed back, persistent, and asked again.

After A LOT of back and forth, and some fairly choice words on his part, he agreed to help.

I’m most proud of that not because of the content that I had in the end – he gives good quotes but the story wasn’t groundbreaking – but my persistence paid off.

What is your happiest memory at BJW?

Roxanne would never believe this. But the camaraderie of the shorthand classes is definitely something that sticks in my mind.

Bonding through adversity and all that. I am lucky enough that my friends I made at BJW I still see now and everyone makes a real effort to get together and keep in touch.

We are seeing each other for Christmas celebrations soon actually.

What skills did you learn at BJW that you still use today?

Newswriting is the skill I use most. Every day I have to produce fast-paced, accurate copy to a deadline.

The formatting, headline writing and WWWWW (who? what? when? where? why?) is still something I always think about.

Believe it or not I also regularly use shorthand. Mainly to write shopping lists or take notes in meetings more than for reporting, but I’m so glad I learnt how to do it.

It makes you stand out in the employment pool, even if just for the novelty factor.

There are certainly other things I learnt that have become so ingrained I forget there was a time before I knew them.

Teeline shorthand outlines and blends. Licenced by creative commons from Wikimedia

Teeline shorthand outlines and blends.
Licenced by creative commons from Wikimedia

What advice would you give to aspiring journalists?

Be polite – this doesn’t just apply to aspiring journalists – but you never know when you’ll cross paths with someone again and they might have a say in a job that you want.

Write for anyone and everyone, every article you produce is another where you can improve your writing.

When you are on work experience or internships take up every opportunity you are offered with enthusiasm.

If you are going to do the task looking miserable, even if it is making another cup of tea for your editor, don’t bother at all.

But don’t work for free forever. If you are of value to a team, you deserve to be able to pay your bills too.

And learn how to use Photoshop. You’ll save yourself a lot of headache.