Media HQ are running a series of short interviews with some of the country’s many talented journalists. In this series you can see why they do what they do, what they love, what they hate and who they look up to.
This week, we speak to The Sunday Business Post’s Colette Sexton.
Did you always want to be a journalist? If so, why? If not, what persuaded you to become one?
One day after my primary school teacher finished reading one of my essays she looked at me and said “Colette, some day in years to come I’ll be sitting in my rocking chair reading a national newspaper. I’ll see your byline and I’ll say I taught that girl.”
I was eight then, and ever since I’ve wanted to be a journalist. Aside from that, I love writing, I always have my head in a book, I love meeting people and hearing their stories and I’m also incredibly nosey. All in all, a good combination for journalism.
How long have you been working as a journalist? Where did you start?
My first foray into journalism was when I was news editor of Sin, the NUI Galway student newspaper. My main takeaway from that experience was that editors spend an awful lot of their time chasing copy, and as a result I always file on time!
I worked as a sub editor for the Daily Mail for a few months, and that really helped me to hone my writing skills. But my real break into journalism and reporting in particular was joining the Sunday Business Post just over two years ago.
When you started out in the industry, who did you look up to? Do you still look up to people?
I heard Geraldine Kennedy speak during my undergrad in UL and found her fascinating. I would love to be able to write like Maureen Dowd or Miriam Lord (maybe someday!)
Also, the entire team at the Sunday Business Post are always great for advice, support and inspiration.
What do you find to be the toughest part of being a journalist? What has been your biggest challenge to date?
There is nothing worse than spending a lot of time and effort getting a story and then seeing it break on a Friday or a Saturday so you can’t run it on Sunday. You just have to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and move on to the next thing.
What is your favourite thing about writing for The Sunday Business Post?
The editors here really trust the reporters. I had only joined the paper two months when I was given responsibility for the media and marketing section which is two pages every week.
I was absolutely terrified of messing it up, but they said I’d be fine and I was.
Plus I love how varied the work is. I could be writing a travel piece, a book review, the Sunday Interview, the media and marketing section and chasing news stories – all in one week!
What would your dream job in the media be and why? Is this your career goal?
Either present my own TV or radio show, be the editor of the New York Times or single handedly save print media – I aim low as you can see!
Finally, what advice would you give to anyone who is looking to kick-start their career in the media or studying journalism?
When I was in the final year of my undergrad, a guidance counsellor told me that I would never make it in journalism because I didn’t have any contacts in the industry. I was crushed, but thankfully I didn’t listen to her.
Keep trying, write as much as you can, observe everything, ignore the naysayers and eventually you will get there.
Also, be open minded about what kind of journalism you are willing to work in. I have a degree in history and politics. I always thought I’d be a political journalist. Never in a million years did I think I’d end up as a business journalist but I love my job now.
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