A (virtual) coffee with… Alastair Jamieson, Sunday Telegraph

What’s your role at the Sunday Telegraph?

General news reporter, also the deputy night news editor on Saturday which is our busy production day.

What types of stories are you interested in?

I used to be consumer affairs correspondent at The Scotsman so I’m often working on  consumer, retail and trend stories but I could also be covering Parliament and the economy  or X Factor and the royal family. I worked on MPs’ expenses. I am frequently sent out around Britain at short notice to get ‘doorstep’ interviews. These worlds can collide. I once had to do a mobile telephone interview with the American director of a global investment bank about his bonus package while waiting to grab a face-to-face chat with Sir Cliff Richard at a noisy Summer Holiday cast reunion.
What happens in the newsroom when snow causes chaos in the country?

When the rest of the country is late to work, we get called in early!
The priority is to identify what is happening and make sure our website is updated with  breaking news and information. We are trained to do that ourselves, in consultation with  the newsdesk. Then we set about compiling story lines for the following day’s paper, which  often means trying to track down individuals for their personal experiences and well as  holding relevant organisations to account. The added pressure is that deadlines sometimes  come forward in order to ensure the newspaper is still available for people to buy the  following morning even in the deepest of snow.

2010 news highlight?

It has to be the general election and the formation of a Coalition.
Personally, I enjoyed working on the volcanic ash disruption; I was publishing stories live  to our website on the morning the cloud reached Britain, which certainly got the adrenalin  going. I also had a front page exclusive in July about former Labour MP Frank Cook and his extraordinary expense claims for domestic DIY equipment bought in America where his wife lives.

Why did you choose journalism as a career?

It is what I’m least incompetent at! My father is a very good journalist, and he has been my inspiration; one day I hope to become as good as him.

What are the biggest changes in your role since you started working?

The requirement to think about, and write, online news stories in additon to printed editions. Although there is a lot of overlap in terms of readership, the two require very  different ways of working, different skills and styles.

What’s the best way for PRs to pitch an idea to you?

Briefly. I hope I’m considered approachable but my pet peeve is having general release  stories pitched to a Sunday newspaper during the week out of sheer laziness or  carelessness. We’re not going to run stories that have already been in other newspapers!

Can’t live without: coffee, paper, Twitter

Coffee. The working day is rarely less than 12 hours (which is also true for many PRs) so a mixture of Berocca and coffee is essential.

Contact details:

Alastair Jamieson
News Reporter
The Sunday Telegraph
+44 (0)207 931 3533
+44 (0)7775 755096

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