In the latest ‘10 minutes with’ interview, the i’s political reporter Chloe Chaplain reveals the story behind her first front page byline, why you should never say no to an opportunity and having dinner with the Cabinet…
How did you get into journalism?
I always wanted to do something involving writing but didn’t really think it would be possible. When I finished university, I got a job in marketing, which I did for two years until I decided to apply for the Press Association NCTJ course. Then here we are!
Why does journalism matter?
It is a crucial tool to inform the public and to be used by the public. It is relevant in every layer of our society – not just in Westminster. That’s not to say it’s perfect, however. Because of its importance, journalism should forever be scrutinised and improved on.
Best scoop (yours or someone else’s)?
I don’t know if this would be up there with the top scoops of all time, but I think my first ever front page was when I worked at the Hampstead and Highgate Express in north London and I got a scoop on mothers being told not to breastfeed their babies in the waiting area of a local swimming pool. I loved working in local news and telling the stories that mattered most to the community. I remember very clearly the excitement of having my name on the front for the first time.
What are you working on right now?
Predictably, my work has been dominated by the pandemic. It is hard to plan much ahead of time when the Government is constantly making new announcements and batting off criticism or demands. In-between all this I am covering stories I feel need a bit more attention at the moment, for example the failure to reopen (yet) the refugee resettlement scheme and the difficulties people have faced when trying to apply for post-Brexit settled status.
Career highlight so far?
Working as a political reporter means that, during non-pandemic times, I get to travel to constituencies all over the country and speak to people about what they want to see in their Government. Rubbing shoulders with the people that make the laws in Parliament is exciting, yes, but speaking to the people that vote them in is considerably more insightful. There are a lot of very interesting, passionate and engaged people living in this country.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Never say no to an opportunity to go somewhere or speak to someone – you never know what you might find out.
Who or what inspires you most?
I feel very lucky to be in a position where I have a platform and am able to be a part of an industry I care so much about. That inspires me to use my role responsibly and play my part in doing some good!
Who would be your fantasy dinner party guests and why?
The Cabinet so I can get them drunk and get them to spill Government secrets. Might not be the most fun evening though…
How do you switch off from work?
The news can be all-encompassing so when I am off work for a few days at a time I try to turn off all notifications on my phone and pretend it’s not happening.
Gym or gin?
Would love to say gym but it has to be gin – or a margarita!
If I wasn’t a journalist, I would be…
I would have loved to be a teacher (although I don’t know if I would be up to the challenge). I think they do such a valuable job and don’t often get the credit they deserve. My mum – who recently retired – was a teacher so I got to see first-hand the number of children’s lives she had a real impact on and it was inspiring.
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