This article by Spectator assistant editor Isabel Hardman is based on a talk she gave at Polis, LSE. In it she explains what it’s like to be a Westminster lobby journalist, how to get scoops and what it takes to be a political correspondent in one of the world’s most competitive news beats. She argues that starting out on a very untrendy trade magazine gave her the right training. But while political intelligence and guile are vital assets what really gets her stories is an insatiable and independent-minded curiosity about people.
I started my career as a trade journalist, working as a reporter on a magazine called Inside Housing. This was one of the best starts I could have got as this magazine taught its journalists how to work patches, how to find off-diary stories and how to get stories from data and turgid government reports. I am more comfortable as a journalist because of that first job, and I suspect that had I started on a national newspaper, I would not have received this one-on-one attention and training that I did on Inside Housing. Continue reading