Eastern Daily Press and Norwich Evening News editor David Powles tells Press Gazette about his biggest regret in his 20-year career, office golf tournaments, and that time he had one too many while on work experience.
Powles studied journalism at the University of Central Lancashire and his first paying job was two weeks at the Bury Times before he was poached by the Lancashire Evening Post.
What made you want to become a journalist?
A presentation by a local journalist at my school changed my life forever. I went home that night and told my parents I wanted to be a journalist as it sounded like such a great adventure. Fortunately that’s how it has turned out.
Where did you catch your first break?
On almost every bit of work experience, especially at a Liverpool press agency called Mercury Press, where I was sent to Wales to try and get the estranged brother of Elton John to talk – and landed a Sunday Mirror splash and spread. I’d advise anyone that having a good set of cuttings really makes a difference when going for those early interviews.
What is it you enjoy most about journalism?
Being at the heart of absolutely everything that happens in the county that I love. Good or bad, if it happens on patch we have a part to play.
What is the one thing you couldn’t do without as a journalist, and why?
Cliché time – but the team I work for. I’m lucky to have not just a stack of talent in this newsroom, but so much enthusiasm to get stuck in and find the best stories as well.
What’s your biggest mistake / regret in your career?
Mistake: the one too many beers I supped during a night out in the middle of my first ever work experience at the EDP as a teenager (long story but it put me down in EDP folklore for all the wrong reasons).
Regret: that’s a tough one. I never got to be a crime correspondent, mainly because for the majority of my career there was already a great one in the job in whatever newsroom I was in. I would have loved a year or two in that role as it’s such a fascinating area.
What piece of work are you most proud of, and why?
Launching and bossing our long-running mental health campaign. It felt like a growing issue at the time for so many reasons. I’m proud that we got in there before everyone else followed suit and I’d like to think it’s something we’re renowned for in the region and possibly nationally.
What’s the most outrageous thing you’ve witnessed in a newsroom?
Where to start? One former editor (unnamed) took two weeks off diary to organise an in-house golf tournament around the office, setting up little holes everywhere. I remember being not best pleased when a stray ball hit me while I was trying to bash out a splash.
My former editor and friend Nigel Pickover also had some brilliantly madcap ideas – but the majority of those worked brilliantly. I do often have to remind myself that we must keep having fun in this job.
If you could change one thing about the UK media industry today, what would it be?
More of a realisation from the public that the majority of local journalists care deeply about the area they cover and only want to do good for it. And make it mandatory across the country that every person has to buy a newspaper or log onto its website at least once a day of course.
Any top tips for aspiring journalists?
Don’t be someone who has a great idea but never acts upon it. Everyone has great ideas – the key is making it happen and not being afraid of the odd failure here or there. And take your portfolios to interviews – this seems to rarely happen anymore, but proof of doing work experience and getting stories published can make such a difference.
Away from work, which newspapers, TV or radio news do you consume and why?
- The Times (it’s the best nationally)
- Four Four Two magazine (I’m football obsessed)
- BBC Radio 6 Music (I’m music obsessed)
Can you show us a picture of your workspace?