Globe and Mail journalist Carly Weeks has reported on everything from federal politics to the high levels of sodium in the Canadian diet. Read what Carly has to say about her role, how she works and what she likes best about her job.
Follow her @CarlyWeeks.
What is the most rewarding aspect of your work as a health reporter for the Globe?
Journalism is an incredible profession and I consider myself very lucky to be part of this industry and work with so many great people. What is most rewarding are the notes or calls from readers telling me that a story I wrote made a difference to them. I once had a man write to thank me for a story I did on the risks of certain osteoporosis drugs. It turns out his wife had been experiencing some side effects, but until they read my piece, they didn’t know what could be causing her health issues.
How does social media factor into your work?
Social media is a great way to get a read on the issues that matter to the public. I use social media (primarily Twitter) to look for potential story ideas, connect with interview subjects and learn about issues or events I might not read about in the newspaper. Social media provides journalists with an opportunity to expand our perspectives and learn about something new.
What does a typical day look like for you?
No two days are alike in journalism, but typically, I spend a lot of my day making phone calls and typing frantically. I dedicate part of each day to checking over the dozens of new e-mails I have received, reading the news and looking at social media to see what’s happening. Based on that, I will typically pitch a story to an editor – at any given point in time, I have an ongoing list of stories I want to tackle. On the days when news breaks on my beat, that becomes the focus. As any journalist will tell you, covering breaking news on a tight deadline is a fun, rewarding part of the job.
What’s your number one tip for PR people?
Spend 90 per cent of your time working on the story you are pitching and 10 per cent of the time actually pitching. I get so many e-mail pitches for things not on my beat or for issues I would never cover. There seems to be a tendency by some PR professionals to focus on quantity over quality – e-mailing 500 reporters the same pitch and hoping someone picks it up – as opposed to developing a story that is compelling and timely. Also, avoid sending duplicate pitches. I will often receive the same press release from CNW and from a personal e-mail. Some people even do a follow-up call to see if I received the pitch! (Spoiler alert: I did.)
Favourite story you’ve ever worked on?
There are so many “favourites” but one that will always stand out is a personal essay I wrote on my experience being bullied in elementary school. I wrote the piece after the suicide of Amanda Todd in 2012. I received more feedback from that story than anything else I have ever written. People from all over the country wrote to tell me about their experience being bullied and to tell me the article helped them. I even heard from a few of my former classmates who wrote me to apologize.
Dream story you’d love to work on?
If budgets were endless, I’d love to spend several months reporting on some of the serious health issues facing developing countries. Not just disease outbreaks, but how tobacco and soda companies are targeting those countries for growth as their sales decline in North America.
First website you load in the morning?
Coffee or beer?
Coffee, red wine and club soda.
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