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Career 6: Investigative Journalist

Starting a new job on the day of an all-out tube strike across central London is not the most auspicious of beginnings.

I was joining the investigations team at the Telegraph, and it was my first exposure to the world of journalism and a national newspaper. This is the paper that exposed the MP expenses scandal and more recently the Sam Allardyce case, among numerous others; I was incredibly lucky to have the opportunity to work with them, even if only for a week.

Journalism is an industry I hadn’t seriously considered until this year as I felt that I could make a positive difference with greater impact in other careers. What I didn’t factor in is both that this is basically just wrong – exposing the MP expenses scandal has certainly made a difference to parliamentary financial accountability, for example – and also how much I have enjoyed writing and blogging since launching 25before25. I now know that I want writing and producing my own written content to feature in whatever career I end up doing at the end of this journey.

In my naivety about the industry, however, I neglected to think through what the differences might be between reporting and working in Investigations specifically. Working as a reporter on the main news floor requires writing numerous stories each day, often to very tight deadlines on whatever topics are in the news that day.

Investigations, by its very nature, focuses on much longer term projects and in-depth research. This is fantastic if you are working there for longer than a week. Add to this, I was not able to shadow the people I was working with as, understandably, much of what they do doesn’t really leave room for someone to tag along asking lots of questions.

The newsroom at The Telegraph

This is the first time on the 25before25 journey that it has been obvious that short term work experience just isn’t long enough to really get a sense of what it is like to work in that area. This is the first career I’ve tried where it was clear I’d need at least a month or two to even begin to understand what’s really involved. It was like trying to run before I understood anything about walking.

Whilst I learnt a huge amount with the Investigations team – we all really need to up our privacy settings, let’s leave it at that - I realise now it is something that was simply too many steps ahead and in too short of a time frame. This is why there will be a Journalism part two next week that will hopefully be far more enlightening.

I have been back at the Telegraph this week and will be there next week too, working as a reporter with World News and then the Education desk.

More to follow...

This article can also be viewed on the Investigative Journalism careers page.

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