Next up in ‘The People Behind Your News’ is Emma Joseph, Editor of Dorset Living and Hampshire Living magazines. She also writes features for the Bournemouth Daily Echo and has done so since 2004!
We find out about the processes behind the well-read lifestyle magazines, Emma’s passion for journalism and how she spends ‘me-time.’
What is your main responsibilities/What does a normal day in the office look like?
My main responsibility is writing and collating from various contributors, all the editorial content for Dorset Living & Hampshire Living magazine. This includes features on interiors, food & drink, health & beauty, fashion, arts & leisure as well as our Society Diary pages and Events Guide and involves travelling around the county to meet various artists, chefs and designers etc.
With our latest edition’s pagination at 210 pages, this takes up the majority of my time! We have roughly four weeks in the process, with the first stage being to write or package up each feature with pictures, to be sent over to our design team. They then lay out the pages, which are checked by myself before going to print.
What was your background before journalism?
I don’t really have a pre-journalism career background (apart from Saturday jobs in retail). I did the BA Hons Multi Media Journalism degree at Bournemouth University from 1996 to 1999 and got my first job as a reporter on a weekly newspaper in my hometown of Chelmsford, Essex. I then worked as a reporter for the Southern Daily Echo in Southampton for three years, before moving to the Bournemouth paper in 2004. I began as a reporter in the Poole office, then moved to the features department after a couple of years.
What’s the main reason you chose journalism?
I just loved writing! English was my favourite subject at school and I was looking at English degrees before my head of college suggested journalism and I realised it was something that had been in the back of my mind all along. My degree focused on all areas of journalism and I initially wanted to work in television, but the first job I got was for a newspaper and I absolutely loved it!
How important is journalism for wider society?
Journalists always seem to have a bad name but, especially in the local community, we are the ones fighting to get to the bottom of all the things that really matter to people, and demanding answers from the people in power. In the days of social media, the “headlines” are readily available, but people still rely on us for the full story.
What is the main aim of your articles?
I guess it’s really just to tell people’s story. I’m fascinated by the amount of hugely talented, creative people we have here in Dorset and Hampshire – authors, artists, interior and fashion designers. Each of them have a story to tell about why they do what they do, and what they want to achieve. It’s a privilege to have them open up to you and to share their story. The vast majority of people I meet are hugely passionate about what they do, so I always try to convey that to the reader.
How do you see journalism changing in the future?
There have been huge changes in the way we work since I started here in 2004. News now is so fast-paced and people want to know all the details instantly, so there is a much greater sense of urgency when it comes to news reporting, as we try to be first with the full story. We’ve always been seen as something of an information service, but we find people are interested also in things like the best pubs to take dogs to, and where to get the best Sunday roast. So our remit is so much more than just news.
With regards to magazines, I personally love sitting down with a coffee and a mag to flick through for half an hour’s relaxing, so I hope others will continue to enjoy that too!
What’s your favourite thing about the outlet you work for?
Without a doubt, the people I work with. We are a really great, tight team of incredibly hard workers, always ready to step in and help each other out.
It’s also a privilege to be working in the original Echo building, which has the most amazing art deco interior.
What’s the most up-lifting story you covered recently?
I interviewed a local photographer recently who had suffered two mental breakdowns, but had turned to wildlife photography to help relieve stress and overcome his troubles. He is now thoroughly enjoying life and is dedicated to helping others who have suffered like him.
In my career, probably the most heartwarming story I’ve covered was while I was working in Southampton. A family called to highlight the plight of the local NHS, who had told them their profoundly deaf, two-year-old daughter’s cochlear implant operation would have to be delayed as they didn’t have the funding. Sky News picked up the story and, while the family were being interviewed live on TV, an anonymous donor called to say he would pay for the operation. The family invited me along when the implant was switched on, and I witnessed the little girl hear her mum tell her she loved her for the first time. Very emotional!
What would be your ideal story?
The stories I find the most inspiring are those people who have undergone a complete career change to follow their dreams, or have overcome adversity of some sort to go on and achieve something incredible, or even just someone who is incredibly passionate about what they do – that’s always infectious.
Journalism is a stressful job, so how do you unwind?
I’m always running my two daughters around to dance classes, and enjoy helping out with their shows backstage. But my favourite hour of “me-time” is my Monday evening adult ballet class. I’ve danced all my life, and that one-hour class is the perfect opportunity to clear my mind and think of nothing but the steps and the music.