Local Newspaper Week: Q&A with Laura Drysdale, Wakefield Express

"Local journalism is a great platform for communities, highlighting issues and celebrating achievements. We can make a difference to our communities, changing things for the better."

Local Newspaper Week is taking place between the 14 and 18 May, and the NCTJ is proud to support the campaign. Each day throughout the week, we will be sharing the experiences of local news journalists at a range of newspaper groups. 

Laura Drysdale, news reporter at the Wakefield Express, studied for her NCTJ Diploma in Journalism on a postgraduate course at the University of Sheffield before completing her NQJ with Johnston Press last year. Laura was the best-performing trainee in the 2017 NQJ exams, resulting in her receiving the trainee of the year award in the NCTJ’s Awards for Excellence. 

Tell us what you do at the Wakefield Express?
I’m a news reporter at the Express so each week I contribute to the production of the paper and two of its sister titles as well as populating their websites.

This involves sourcing and developing stories of interest to our audience, shooting and editing video where appropriate, and engaging with readers via social media.

What does a typical day in your role involve?
A typical day involves getting out and about chatting to people in the community and building relationships with contacts, carrying out interviews for stories, writing copy for the websites and papers, monitoring the media output of police and emergency services and looking at planning documents, meeting and inspection reports.

I also spend time promoting articles on social media, attending meetings, press briefings and community events, and researching information for stories and campaigns.

What do you enjoy most about your job and why?
I enjoy the fact that every day is different. It’s great to come in each morning and not know what is in store in terms of breaking news. It certainly keeps you on your toes reacting to new situations. 

Why is local journalism important to you?
It is important to me that I am standing up for people in our area – local journalism is a great platform for communities, highlighting issues and celebrating achievements, and the only voice holding to account those in power in our district.

It’s also important in a campaigning role – we can make a difference to our communities, changing things for the better.

What is the strangest local story you’ve ever covered?
A wedding ceremony for two garden gnomes, who were then whisked away on honeymoon, was up there.

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