In the latest ‘10 minutes with’ interview, Daily Express’ news reporter Steph Spyro tells us about how a protest in South Africa encouraged her to become a journalist, her greatest inspiration and the campaigns she is working on including Green Britain Needs You.
How did you get into journalism?
While living in South Africa, I attended a protest connected to the Fees Must Fall movement for a high school art project. The goal of the student-led movement was to stop increases in university fees, as well as to increase government funding for institutions.
I attended the protest during my last year at school and spoke with students who shared their anger and stories with me. I was hooked. After that, I applied to study journalism at Kingston University in London.
The pandemic abruptly brought my final year to a close in March 2020 and I started full-time at the Daily Express the next day.
Why does journalism matter?
Journalism helps people make more informed decisions. As a journalist, my role is to digest and understand what is happening and pass that on in a way that is brief, clear and accurate.
It has the ability to make people feel like what they’re saying matters. If done right, it can make people feel less alone. It has the ability to shock, entertain and educate.
Best scoop (yours or someone else’s)?
The Daily Express scoop by my colleagues from earlier this year, which revealed how thousands of travellers arriving from variant-hit South Africa walked out of Heathrow airport unchecked. It highlighted the country’s lax border measures and held the government to account over what actions they were taking to keep Covid-19 variants out of the UK.
What are you working on right now?
I’m currently juggling stories for three separate campaigns, the Green Britain Needs You crusade calling for everyone to do their bit for the planet is being spearheaded by our brilliant environment editor John Ingham but I help out. I’m also masterminding the Fair Deal for Students campaign, which highlights the plight of university students during the pandemic – alongside another crusade that amplifies the voices of women and girls who have been publicly sexually harassed in a bid to make Britain’s streets safer.
Career highlight so far?
The past year working at the Daily Express has been exhilarating. It’s definitely kept me on my toes. I love that I could be sitting at my desk one minute and then waltzing off on an exciting adventure the next. So far, I’ve been able to visit the onshore component of an offshore wind farm in Yorkshire, I’ve tried the Queen’s gin outside her palace and visited restaurants, hairdressers and retail stores before opening following lockdowns. Those visits, alongside the mentorship of my more experienced colleagues, have been thrilling as a young journalist.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
“Never say no to an assignment or an opportunity, even if you don’t know how to do it. Say yes, then go find out”.
Who or what inspires you most?
I have a quadriplegic sister who can’t walk or talk. She’s always put life into perspective for me. Each time I get anxious or afraid to do something, I think of her. Her disabilities have taught me not to take my abilities for granted.
Who would be your fantasy dinner party guests and why?
I’d love to have dinner with my parents, sister and grandmother who live on the other side of the world. That feels like a fantasy in today’s climate because of travel restrictions.
How do you switch off from work?
The best way to switch off is to get as far away as possible from any screens – no TV, no phones and no iPads. The best way to calm my mind is to go outside and exercise. In pre-pandemic times, swimming at my local pool would also have been my go-to place for some downtime.
Gym or gin?
I could go a lifetime without gin but I can’t say the same about the gym.
If I wasn’t a journalist, I would be…
I almost strayed down the path of becoming a fashion designer. What was I thinking?