5 Minutes with the Media – Sally Gorman, Irish Examiner

Every week we chat with a member of the media landscape to get an insight into what’s it’s like to work in the Irish industry. We also get the best tips and tricks for those thinking of pursuing a media career. 

This week we chat to Sally Gorman, Digital Journalist at the Irish Examiner and BreakingNews.ie.

 

What is your current role in the media and what does it involve?

I am currently working as a digital journalist with Landmark Digital who represent The Irish Examiner and BreakingNews.ie respectively.

My role here as a digital journalist is quite broad in the sense that I deal with the output of all sorts of breaking news – Ireland, World, Business, Sport, Showbiz, even viral and trending content too.

The enrichment and socialisation of news is a large part of my role. When I started here, I was trained on how best to socialise news stories across social media platforms including Facebook and Twitter.

It is my job to enrich stories using new media elements like tweets, embedded videos, sound clips etc. to make news more accessible, visual and mobile-friendly for those on the go.

My duties also include monitoring comments, sourcing stories, gaining traffic and fact-checking as well as website management in terms of top stories and fresh content.

How long have you been working in the industry?

I graduated with a degree in Journalism and New Media from the University of Limerick in August and started this job in September. It all happened very quickly and I relocated from Westmeath to Cork within the space of a few weeks. It was a whirlwind, to say the least, but I was delighted to have been offered the chance to work with the national media so fresh out of college, also taking the current changing climate into consideration too.

Despite only starting here in September I have actually been working in the industry since I was a teenager. I started contributing to my local newspapers when I was in transition year in school going on to land a full-page column with The Westmeath Examiner during my college years which I kept up for almost two years.

I also worked a short stint with RTE last summer. During their coverage of the Rio Summer Olympic Games, I was hired as a sub-editor for the ‘Day Time Live’ programme fronted by Joanne Cantwell.

Did you always want to be a journalist? What made you want to become one?

I always knew I wanted to be a journalist and for that I am grateful. I have seen so many friends struggle to choose a career path and I would hate to be stuck at those crossroads.

Fortunately for me, I always had a passion for reading and writing and being honest, I’m naturally nosey so journalism always appealed to me!

Growing up I always found myself in journalism-related roles – editor of school magazines, debating and public speaking teams, I even did both of my work experience placements in media outlets – TV3 and Westmeath Topic newspaper.

It just came naturally to me, I had a flair for English and was interested in everything going on around me.

Veronica Guerin is also one of my all-time favourite films and I think from an early age it showed me the power of a pen. I became enthralled with finding the truth and shining a light into the darkest of places, as they say.

How do your experiences so far compare to the expectations you had while studying/learning the trade? 

I think college and my course, in particular, prepared me very well for the world of work, for the real world! Journalism and New Media was a very practical course, we completed a semester of work placement where I spent six months in my local radio station. As daunting and challenging as that was, it gave me a real insight into this business.

I also had to spend a semester studying abroad, which I completed at the University of Salford in Manchester. The journalism school there is part of Media City UK, home to the BBC and ITV. I feel that this time spent outside of the classroom and outside of Ireland, moulded me a little – it opened my eyes to the wider media sphere and made me more aware of journalism as a whole.

I came home very determined to put my new skills to good use and I was itching to find the perfect job.

What are your next set of career goals? Where would you like to be in five years time? 

Well, I am a very and I mean very, laid back type of person. I like to take life as it comes and I am a firm believer that what is for me won’t pass me by. That being said, I am also very ambitious and a dreamer. Broadcast is always an area I have had an interest in and television fascinates me. Live television is a different ball game, whether you’re in front or behind and camera and I think I would like to experience that again someday.

However, online journalism is going through some very exciting changes right now. I love my job and I love being part of a company who are adapting to this digital transition with ease. Being part of this era is very exciting, the news is evolving, journalism and journalists are evolving too at a speed that is almost hard to keep up with. At Landmark Digital I am learning as I go, picking up new skills that didn’t even exist when I was in college which isn’t that long ago – I’m only 23!  That, I love.

What has been the biggest challenge of your career to date? Which piece of work are you most proud of? 

Justifying my decision to pursue a career in journalism has tested me at times. I battled with my parents when filling out my CAO form back in Leaving Cert and I still battle with them today. I think people have lost confidence in journalism in recent times with the decline of print newspapers, the rise of ‘fake news’ and the social media takeover but journalism is merely evolving, not dying. That is my response to anyone who questions my decision and I believe if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.

I am most proud of a video I made during my final year in college. The video, which I scripted, shot and edited myself, highlighted the strain put on GAA players today. Believe it or not, it was actually shortlisted into the final three of The Irish Examiner’s video journalism competition. Take a look at the video here!

When you were starting out were there any figures in the industry that you looked up to? Is there anyone like that for you at the moment? 

Catriona Perry. I admire how far she has climbed the ladder of success in a relatively short space of time. Having started with Today FM, to move to the national broadcaster, become Washington Correspondent, survive Trump’s America and now ready to start probably one of the most sought-after jobs in the industry, seriously inspiring for any young journalist with a dream.

What are your top tips for journalists when pitching stories? 

Trust your gut, if you’d like to read it or find it interesting, chances are someone else will too. Keep it simple, accessible, don’t over think or over complicate. Always do your research, don’t leave any stone unturned. Be confident, if you don’t believe in your story, no one else will sell it.

In your opinion, what is the biggest challenge facing journalism and the media industry today?

Speed. News is almost instantaneous these days with the addition of social media, especially Twitter. Most news stories break on Twitter before they break anywhere else. Although Twitter and other forms of social media can be helpful they can also be a hindrance when it comes to fact-checking and accuracy. Just remember it is better to be second but right than first and wrong.

What advice would you give to those considering a career in journalism or who are studying it at the moment?

Do it and love it wholeheartedly, half-heartedly is no good. Your work is your signature, take pride in absolutely everything you put your name to.

The industry is much smaller than you think, remember to be kind to everyone you meet on the way up because you may meet them on the way back down.

Be prepared to take knocks, you need to develop a thick skin. You are never going to please everyone, not everyone is going to agree with what you have to say, learn to take it on the chin.

Want to connect with journalists in The Irish Examiner as well as every radio, television and print media publication in Ireland? We have a database of over 8,000 contacts to get your story to the media. For more information call Gaye on (01) 254 1845 or click here.

Missed last week’s five minutes with the media with Radio Nova’s Elaine Stenson? Click here to catch up.