'One of my ambitions is to produce a documentary - radio of course. It’s the best, most intimate medium"

Night shifts, breaking news and an action-packed green room: a day in the life of a broadcast journalist

I had my heart set on becoming a journalist in my early teens, when I found a leaflet lurking in the back of a file called “media” in our careers office at my school. I was 21 when I graduated from university with a politics degree, and I was still hell bent on that goal. Part of me really wanted to be an actress, but I figured there wasn’t money in that, and broadcast journalism seemed the perfect combination of performance and politics. I didn’t know how I’d do it, but I was certain the journey was bound to be an interesting one.

It took me more than 15 years to get here. My first paid shift was as a reporter for BBC Radio Bristol. Eventually, I moved to London and got a job as breakfast editor with LBC Radio which back then was presented by Anne Diamond and Sir Nicholas Lloyd. That was great training from the very best in the business.

Back then, LBC was part of ITN Radio. I moved a couple of desks along and started as a news editor for Independent Radio News, where I also reported and read live bulletins. I became city editor just before the credit crunch, and one redundancy later, I started freelancing with the BBC, producing business news for Radio 4’s Today programme. That soon turned into a staff job. I pinch myself to this day, but none of it has happened by chance - I know how hard I have worked.

I turn on Radio 4 when I wake up, and check the bulletins for anything new. We do mostly shift work: either 5am starts or 11pm finishes. If it’s an early shift, it’s all about programme output from the gallery and fixing up breaking stories. The Today Green Room is often a sight to behold - including rabbis, bishops, MPs and showbiz stars!

On the later shift, we start the day with a programme news meeting, discussing all the possible stories we could include in the programme the next day and the ways we could cover them. Then the hard graft of fixing the programme starts, although we are blessed as producers as the guests are always so keen to be on the programme they often say yes straight away.

When I tell people about what I do, I think they assume it’s highly glamorous and I’ve got it easy. That just couldn’t be further from the truth! Everyone here works very hard and often long hours. The early starts and night shifts are my least favourite parts of the job. My inspiration comes from any woman who’s got to the top - most have had to work just that little bit harder than their male counterparts simply in terms of the extra hoops they’ve had to jump through in both their personal and professional life.

I have a couple of reports I’d like to cover in the coming year: a lot of our job is about coming up with fresh story ideas. I find the statistical rise in solo living fascinating, especially in terms of how businesses will need to adapt to that.

I’d also like to produce a report on mental health and the workplace. I think it’s a topic we need to normalise and start talking about. One of my ambitions will be to produce a documentary some day - radio of course. It’s the best, most intimate medium. Oh, and writing. Every journalist dreams of writing their own book one day, I’m sure.

Julia Pittam is a senior broadcast Journalist for the BBC and a judge at this year’s Veuve Clicquot Business Woman Awards

Julia Pittam

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
How our theatre workshops are empowering migrant women in China
Arts is a force for good, our workshops show how participation can turn them into tools to develop confidence and leadership skills

Caroline Watson

20, Nov, 2015 @11:56 AM

Article image
'I was one of the first women to qualify as a UK beer sommelier'
Meet the woman on a mission to show the world that beer is so much more than a boy’s club

Annabel Smith

23, Oct, 2015 @6:17 AM

Article image
'Handouts can be essential, but enabling people to empower themselves is inspiring'
Dreams of building a responsible tourism business took Amy Carter-James on a tough but rewarding journey to Mozambique

Amy Carter-James

08, Jan, 2016 @7:19 AM

Article image
I launched a social enterprise after becoming a mother, widow and HIV positive
Lizzie Jordan’s own experience inspired her to start a new business, helping young people deal with difficult conversations

Lizzie Jordan

19, Feb, 2016 @7:16 AM

Article image
‘A typical day? Crawling out of a tent to find a fur seal staring at you’
Explorer Sally Poncet is one of the few women to be awarded the Polar medal. She shares the story of her amazing career path

Sally Poncet

13, Nov, 2015 @7:16 AM

Article image
'I am part of an eight-member assembly, running a small country'
The honourable Jan Cheek MLA is part of the Falkland Islands legislative body, responsible for trade and industry

Jan Cheek

04, Dec, 2015 @7:25 AM

Article image
'I hope we can open more doors for women in Formula One'
The lack of female drivers often grabs headlines, but for women interested in a F1 career there many winning opportunities

Emma Rotherham

30, Oct, 2015 @7:25 AM

Article image
'I am the first women's-only tailor in the history of Savile Row'
Entrepreneur Phoebe Gormley quit university and invested her tuition fees in her made-to-measure womenswear business

Phoebe Gormley

27, Nov, 2015 @7:20 AM

Article image
'I realised that something was missing in the British confectionery market'
From a crumbling apartment block in Paris to the shelves of Harvey Nichols: how one entrepreneur turned a passion for sweet treats into a thriving busines

Oonagh Simms

06, Nov, 2015 @7:17 AM

Article image
UK, European or US business women: Who has the best work-life balance?
America is the land of opportunity and success, says US-born Teresa Arbuckle, but it comes at a price

Teresa Arbuckle

12, Nov, 2014 @9:53 AM