Inspiration and Editors / Journalism Jobs / NCTJ

INTERVIEW: Kirsty McCormack – Showbiz journalist at Mail Online

I haven’t done an interview for a while! I don’t find it a chore to search for people who would like to be interviewed for the site, and I don’t get disheartened when I don’t get replies (well, maybe a bit). But I like asking the questions because I know that there are a lot of people, including other wannabe journalists who will benefit from them. I like hearing what the journalists have to say because they are always so encouraging, always say that you shouldn’t give up and ultimately, they have been in the position that we are in now. Every time I do an interview, I am always learning something new.

So, this interview is with Kirsty McCormack who is a TV and showbiz reporter for the MailOnline (remember my addiction I wrote about here…). I can say I pretty much go onto the MailOnline every day to see the most read showbiz story and scroll down the right hand side to see what’s been going on!

I haven’t interviewed a showbiz reporter yet either, so it’s definitely something new, as I learn that Kirsty works nights and weekends too (bye bye 9-5 job!).

Read on to find out more 🙂

Thank you for agreeing to answer some questions! What is your current journalist role at the moment?

TV and Showbiz reporter

What initially sparked your interest into the world of journalism?

When I was 15-years-old I did my high-school work experience placement at Sugar magazine (which was my favourite magazine at the time!) I applied for it myself, while most people at school were given their placements at local shops. It was the best two weeks EVER and from that moment on, I knew I had to be a journalist.

What education/journalism training did you have before gaining a job in it?

At high School I got an A in Media Studies GCSE, I continued this subject at college and got my A Levels and then I studied Magazine Journalism and Feature Writing at Southampton Solent University where I gained a 2:1. I also have my NCTJ diploma which I studied for at Lambeth College on a fast-track course.

How helpful do you think this was?

It was very helpful. During Media Studies GCSE I studied magazines, so ever since I was 15 I’ve been learning about the dynamics of magazines and how they work. My degree covered a variety of modules from law and shorthand to magazine design and the reading of magazines. My NCTJ was also very helpful as it trained me in newspaper journalism.

Did you do any unpaid internships/work experience and how helpful were these?

My first placement was at Sugar when I was 15, and during my time at university I did placements at Love It! Magazine and also at Empire magazine.

What was your first job in journalism and how did you get it?

My first job in journalism was working at the Bucks Free Press newspaper in High Wycombe. I applied for it via Gorkana and started a few days after handing my dissertation in during May 2009. It was initially advertised as a month-long role to help out with the paper’s  bridal supplement, however I stayed there until 2011 where I was credited as editor on four issues of the bi-annual supplement, and also helped out on the newspaper. It was the editor of the BFP who recommended I go and get my NCTJ diploma.

It was the editor of the BFP who recommended I go and get my NCTJ diploma.

How has your job/position/role progressed since then?

I am now a TV & Showbiz reporter on the Mail Online, which is obviously very different to writing about weddings! When I work nights and at weekends, I am showbiz editor and am in charge of keeping the showbiz page up-to-date as well as prioritising stories.

What are some of your daily tasks as a mail online showbiz journo?

The showbiz team are constantly writing! We get a lot of photos in so we write around these and also check Twitter for stories too. We lay out our own stories, write out own headlines and captions so as you see it on the website, is exactly how we have laid the stories out ourselves.

Have you done any freelancing and do you have any tips for this?

I started out as a freelance at the Mail Online, and while it was a great way to start, I do like the security of being a permanent member of staff. I would recommend freelancing, but you need to make sure you put yourself out there constantly and pitch your work – which is obviously time-consuming.

I started out as a freelance… I do like the security of being a permanent member of staff.

What advice would you give to wannabe journalists wanting to break into this industry?

Get as much experience as you can! And plan placements in advance as so many magazines have long waiting lists. If you’re at college or university, try and do a placement during summer/Easter/Christmas and any time off you have. It’s tough as you’re not earning any money, but the experience will look so good on your CV and if you make a good impression, they will definitely want to have you back for another placement.

It’s tough as you’re not earning any money, but the experience will look so good on your CV.

My best piece of advice would have to be: NEVER GIVE UP!!

And finally, can you tell us something random about yourself?

When I go to McDonalds, I like to dip my chips in my vanilla milkshake! Sounds disgusting but it actually tastes delicious!

Thank you!

Follow Kirsty on Twitter:@kirstymccormack

Or read her articles here


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