Persistence pays off as trainee lands Guardian exclusive

Bursary recipient and co-editor of Wannabe Hacks, Liam Corcoran, explains how persistence is the key to landing that all-important exclusive.

Liam CorcoranEvery now and then, you land a scoop that gets your name out there. I experienced this when I broke the story about the Guardian scrapping their MA and suddenly, things started to change.
The site’s hits went through the roof, Twitter went a little nuts and staff at both City and Cardiff were talking about me. Not bad, really, for a story that was published on a niche site.

But every story has a beginning and the story had been quite a while in the making. In fact, it went all the way back to when I reported on the Guardian launching the MA around a year ago.

Since then, it’s all been down to one skill that every journalist needs: persistence. Persistence, persistence, persistence.

When the MA was first announced, I got in touch with the Guardian and while they may not have been commenting at the time, they said that Wannabe Hacks was the perfect site to release details to, so in the future, we might get a scoop.

This sounded perfect, so a couple of months later, I dropped an email asking if anything was happening. I had heard through the grapevine that people had been going for interviews, so a lecturer list might have been shaping up.

However, to my surprise I got an undelivered response. Seemed odd. I tried again and, again, an undelivered response. I left it a few days and gave them a ring. Turns out the person who had agreed this release of details had left.

Luckily for me though, the new person I got in touch with agreed that the site was good to get the message about the MA out and asked to send over some questions.

I did. Now, anyone that has ever sent email questions knows that it can take a little while to get a response. So I waited a couple of days and still hadn’t heard anything. Sent another email and it went back and forth for a while.

Then something nearly killed the story. David Miranda was arrested and for a couple of weeks, everyone in the Guardian media department was swamped. I was certainly last on the list.

But I persisted. I kept sending emails and pushing for answers. I was only expecting a few details – even just a reason why students should sign up next year after it had been pushed back.

Then my persistence paid off. An email arrived with the scoop. Straight away, I knew I had to get this up as soon as possible. I gave Cardiff a few phone calls and emails, but my persistence with them could only last so long. I had to get this up.

They weren’t going to comment so we ran with it. The story went up and, as they say, the rest is history.

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