My job: Patrick Wintour, political editor, The Guardian

How did you get to where you are?
I got an internship after university working for the New Statesman, working with Barnes, Hinton and Thomlin. I was a labour correspondent on The Guardian, through the miners’ strike and the fall of Thatcher. After that it was difficult to be a labour correspondent.

I worked for The Observer for four years in the early Blair years, from 1996. I then moved to the lobby, where I’ve been for too long…

What does your job involve?

There are lots of journalists working at Westminster. Some think it’s a mystifying job, reporting what politicians say, have done and will do. It’s about people’s opinions and their acts.

What I try to do, particularly with more 24-hour news, is to try and bring in stories as much and as often as possible.

How important are your contacts?

Being straight with your contacts will reward you in the long term. Respect them as much as they respect you. You’ll get more back in the long run, and you have to think about the long-term relationship. That’s not a particularly fashionable view, but it’s my view.

I think a lot of people think writing about politicians is like trying to discover fleas. But respecting what’s off the record is important too.

What’s the best way to get ahead in your particular field?

Get one really good story and you’ll get noticed. Be determined and you have to be patient. It’s very competitive, you’re not going to reach the highest peak straight away, it takes a long time. It’s almost a calling. Almost everything goes through politics – health, education, crime – it’s a rich tapestry. It’s a brilliant job.

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