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A day in the life of a .......Journalist

12 December 2012

A day in the life of a........ Journalist
Racing Post journalist Stuart Riley talks about his job

My role at the Racing Post allows me to have a varied working week. Occasionally I will be out on course reporting, visiting a yard for a stable tour or writing a feature, but the majority of my shifts are dedicated to writing news for the website and the paper.

Web shifts can start as early as 7am – or as late as 1pm – keeping users up to date with the latest news throughout the day. A news shift for the paper usually starts at 9am and involves plenty of phone calls.

How did you get involved in this role?
I snuck in through the back door really. I started at the Post on the production desk, drawing card and form pages. It was a fantastic place to start out, I learned a lot and after a year a position as part of the internet/news desk opened up. I was going racing before I could walk or talk, so I jumped at the opportunity to write about the sport on a daily basis.

What attracted you to the job?
When I realised I simply lacked the raw talent for a career as a professional sportsman, the next best option seemed writing about, watching, analysing and breaking news stories in the world of sports journalism. I like the dynamic, instantaneous nature of online news and I feel very lucky to write about something I love.

What is a typical day like for you?
No two days are the same, that's part of what makes the job so fun. There's a lot of looking forward, always focussing on the next big race, the next big-name horse to run. The news we cover can be quite diverse and then there's the website, which has all of its administrative tasks that come with editing any major news website.

What is your favourite part of the job?
Writing the things most people look forward to reading. The features, the race reports, colour pieces, those pieces that give you the opportunity to invest a bit of yourself in them. They're fun to research, the interview process is enjoyable and doing the story justice is the real challenge.

Which part of your job would you like to change?
Transcribing interviews. It's a necessary part of the job but it's a slow and time consuming process. If there was an app for that, I'd buy it!

What is the career progression for someone in your role?
It's difficult. There are so many talented and established racing journalists at the Post it can be difficult to get opportunities to prove yourself so it's about making the most of the opportunities you do get. It helps to look back and notice that in the last six months you've had more opportunities than the previous six months. It takes time but it can be done, just look at Lee Mottershead, you just have to be very good and patience helps.

What advice would you give to someone thinking of taking a similar role?
Write, write lots. Seek feedback from people whose opinion you respect. Write some more. Read incessantly. Read the writers you respect, read different types of writers, different genres, you learn so much from reading. And if you want to get into racing journalism, there is no better place to be than the Post, it's a great place to work.

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