It’s been another illuminating set of ’10 minutes with’ sit-downs with some of the brightest stars in the media industry. Here’s what we learnt in series two…
The need to educate, understand and communicate
As we learnt in our first series, some people are seemingly born for media careers and others fall into them. For many in our second cohort, they felt a need to educate, understand and communicate from early on in their lives.
Sharon Lougher, Metro’s head of features, consumed news throughout her childhood, starting her own college magazine and writing for the student union newspaper at university. “It’s an itch I’ve been scratching since I was a kid”, she said.
The Independent’s Middle East correspondent Bel Trew, whose mother was a local newsreader in the Gulf, was quite literally surrounded by the news growing up: “My parents were adamant we shouldn’t be shielded from what was going on in the world just because we were children – particularly when we had to move because of the Gulf War and relocate to Latvia after the breakup of the Soviet Union.
“Against that, responsible accurate journalism felt like this amazing tool that could be at once a powerful educator and a lifeline.”
It’s a similar story on the agency side. Shannon Sinclair, insights at the7stars, knew why she wanted a media job: “I knew I wanted to do something with a focus on understanding people and culture.”
Josh Deane, senior communications strategist at VCCP Media, felt similarly: “I always had an interest in human behaviour: how it’s influenced and what motivates people to do things.”
Journalism is a lot more than just hard news
A big part of news brands in the public imagination is the front pages: they lead the agenda and get everyone talking. We feature them every day on our website. But journalists cover so much more than just what goes on page one, including sports, the environment, technology, culture and more besides.
When we asked what she would cover as a climate journalist during Cop26, OMD’s account director Nadia Khashem said the food angle would interest her. She explained: “It’s a really interesting area as not only does it impact our day-to-day lives, but also the way brands should think about behaving in the future.”
It’s not all serious, though. Although Essence’s media planning manager Paz Garcia-Minaur would love to have the opportunity to put together a long investigative piece, if she only had one day, she’d cover a space launch! “I think it would be incredibly exhilarating”, she said.
Creativity is a great form of relaxation and inspiration
When we call ourselves the creative industries, it’s unsurprising so many of our interviewees find escape and inspiration in doing and making. Whether it’s Deane dabbling in oil paintings or Sinclair getting behind the sewing machine, it’s hard to keep a lid on many of our interviewees’ creativity.
Meanwhile, for our journalists, this creative energy goes into relaxing with movies or books. For Lougher, it’s “silly action films” and “ground-breaking sci-fi”; for the Evening Standard’s comment writer Emma Loffhagen, she recommends “Three Women” by Lisa Taddeo.
But this energy is equally as important in our work as well as out of it – not just in making content, but in how we approach the obstacles that often appear before us. Here’s Garcia-Minaur on creative thinking: “When faced with a problem, take a step back and think about the bigger picture… Taking a step back allows you to look at things in perspective and helps you look for a solution.”
To readers, consumers and society, the media industry matters
When we ask this question to people in the media industry, we often hear about accountability and democracy. Now, with the last few weeks of political upsets and scandals often broken by news brands, it’s fair to say these qualities are more relevant than ever.
“It is an incredible tool to speak truth to power, to help the most vulnerable, to give platforms to those whose stories would not otherwise be told”, said Trew.
Loffhagen agreed, saying: “In a social media age characterised by misinformation and conspiracy, the importance of reliable, trustworthy journalism has never been more crucial.”
Like journalism, the advertising industry matters because of its enormous potential for reach and effectiveness. Khashem said: “Advertising is in our everyday lives; no matter where we are or what we are doing, we are always surrounded by advertising.”
For Sinclair, it was the industry’s impact: “Advertising has the ability to change people’s thinking, giving it the power to effect positive social change and grow responsible, sustainable businesses.”