Our ‘meet the journo’ feature allows you to meet the faces behind the names and get to know the journalists, editors and key influencers at some of Yorkshire leading publications!
We spoke to freelance journalist Jenny Brockfield this month about how she deals with stress, her love for local newspapers and why you don’t need to be loud to be a great journalist.
Name: Jenny Brookfield
Publication: Freelance journalist – has written for Insider’s magazines in Yorkshire, the North West, South West, Wales and Midlands, as well as Tech North (now Tech Nation) and Business Cloud magazine
How did your career in journalism unfold?
I’ve been a journalist for 15 years as of June 2018. I’ve always loved writing stories, and reading them, and I remember being at high school and deciding this was what I wanted to do. After a journalism degree, my first job was in newspapers as a trainee reporter at the Garstang Courier, near Preston. It was a 40-odd-mile drive from my house in my little Citroen Saxo for not very much money but I loved it. I’d be interviewing rose queens and their parents one day and then spend a Saturday wandering round an agricultural show interviewing farmers, which was great for learning the basics of story hunting and interviewing. It was also a beautiful area to work in.
I later worked for the MEN Media group, first as a reporter and then as a sub-editor, editing stories and designing pages for the Manchester Evening News and its weekly titles. I went to Insider Media as a sub-editor after that and then took the opportunity to go freelance at the beginning of 2015. I’ve written for Insider’s magazines in Yorkshire, the North West, South West, Wales and Midlands, as well as Tech North (now Tech Nation) and Business Cloud magazine. I also work with a few PR companies to provide copy-writing for their clients.
Who inspires you the most?
No one person in particular, but I’m regularly left feeling inspired after talking to the people I meet through work, especially those who have overcome adversity and can talk about the lessons they’ve learned on the way. It’s a privilege really to have the chance to speak to so many different people and learn about different areas – I often think journalists would be great on a quiz team!
What kind of stories particularly interest you?
I’m a big fan of people stories, which probably goes back to my time working in local newspapers. I’m intrigued by what motivates people to do something or how they feel about a particular event in their business. I’ve written a few stories about entrepreneurs who’ve had a business fail and it’s been fascinating hearing about how that affected them but also, importantly, how they picked themselves up again and used that experience to be better in the future.
What’s the best story you’ve ever received?
Anything that immediately captures the attention and makes you think ‘wow’. I interviewed a Yorkshire-based ethical hacker, who sneaks into businesses and plants spyware, last year for what was then Tech North, which was absolutely fascinating and really fun to write. I like stories that you just know are going to make an impact when you receive them.
What are some of your goals for the future?
To carry on telling stories and to still be excited about what I’m doing. I still enjoy seeing something I’ve written in print, or online, and knowing that other people might take something from it.
What are some common myths or challenges about a career in journalism?
That you have to be loud and outgoing. I’m naturally quiet and I always remember a teacher at high school questioning whether I’d be capable of becoming a journalist because I wasn’t louder. Thankfully, that just spurred me on and hasn’t stopped me being able to spot a good story, ask the right questions and then write about it.
What do you believe makes a great story?
Something that makes you stop and think as soon as you read it, is relatable and has the potential to impact on a lot of people.
When it comes to business pieces, I love hearing the back stories of how that person came to start their business, like the North East mum I interviewed who momentarily lost sight of her daughter in Primark so founded a tech business producing Bluetooth wristbands for children. One person’s experience has the potential to inspire someone else reading or offer them advice for their own business.
What kind of publications do you enjoy reading?
When I get time, local and national press and business websites, but I also find Twitter a really useful way of staying up-to-date.
How do you cope with the stress of tight deadlines?
I actually think I thrive with the threat of a deadline. Some of my best stories have probably been the ones where I’ve just had to sit down and write without having time to think about it. That said, I was very aware when I went freelance, and started working from home, about making sure I had time away from the desk. I try to go to the gym two or three times a week, especially after I’ve worked towards a deadline, which clears my mind before starting on another piece of work.
Outside of work, what do you like to do in your spare time?
Walking in the countryside, playing golf when I get the chance and spending time outside with my husband and two boys.
Finally, what piece of advice would you give to people wanting to pitch their business to you?
Think about how this story is different to anything else I might have seen before and tell it simply.
Special thanks to Jenny for getting involved in our ‘Meet the journo’ feature! We’ll be back next month with another interview with a leading Yorkshire journalist.