Today, Gautam Malkani, an experienced journalist working for the Financial Times, came in to tell us about his career and to answer any of our questions. Gautam has worked at the Financial Times for 19 years now and will soon be switching to work at The Guardian. He has written two best-selling novels about children; one about the effect of social media and phones on children, and another about young carers, which he has had first-hand experience with, being a young carer himself. “To be a good journalist, you must have a passion and a talent for story writing,” Gautam told us. Any person with an interest for their surroundings and who is good at summarising things in a snappy, effective way can be a good journalist, according to him. Gautam used to be a reporter, but then switched to be an editor, after realising that only journalists and editors get to work in teams.
Reporters generally tend to work alone, because their task is to interview people instead of writing, which journalists generally do. In fact, journalists and reporters work on completely different branches of the news: journalists write articles called News Stories, which are all about new happenings in the world. On the other end of the spectrum, we have reporters, who tend to write Feature Articles, which tend to be things like interviews and special stories, usually personal stories that people have offered to let the media know.
There are many different types of journalists, and they all have different jobs and contribute to different parts of the media. For example, there are war journalists, who travel to dangerous places in the world and gather information to publish for the news. A typical war journalist can take several days, or even weeks, to write an article. War journalism is a dangerous realm in the journalism world, as sometimes countries who are not happy with what the journalists are writing about sometimes get into fights with them. Another type of journalist is a political journalist, who writes about the things going on in politics, hence the name. This type of journalist has one big aim: not to be biased, which means that even if they support a certain side, they cannot make one side seem bad and another good in the article. Political journalists can have to write up to 8 articles a day, which means that they must be fast in researching and writing articles. The last type of journalist we learnt about is a freelance journalist – they write about anything they want! There is no fixed newspaper they have to work for, and there is no average time or number of articles they must write per day.
Gautam’s favourite book is The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger. At university, Gautam studied humanities: social sciences, psychology, anthropology, economics, and English, of course, to become a good writer! Once Gautam was asked to write an article about a court case in which two TV gameshows took each other to court claiming that the other had copied them with one of their rounds: eating exotic bugs! Finally, Gautam’s favourite quote is “Journalism is the first draft of history.” Thank you, Gautam, for coming in and sharing what inspires you, for passing on your knowledge and for answering all our questions!
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