Tim Burrowes, founder of Mumbrella
We started the new year by sitting down with Mumbrella’s very own Tim Burrowes, here’s what he had to say:
- How did you get into journalism?
I was lucky, as I was in the last generation of journalists that got in without a degree. I was failing my A-Levels, but did a thing called journalism main-study as an extra at college, two hours a week – which gave me the bug.
I sort through the local newspapers lying around for places to apply and one of them gave me an interview. I met with the news editor, who I thought might have a speech impediment or something. But it turns out he was Scottish and drunk. He’d asked me something, and I’d guess the answer. I went away thinking I hadn’t got it. But somehow, despite that, they gave me the job. And I was lucky that they trained me on the job and sent me off to gain qualifications.
It was as close to journalism having an apprenticeship as you’re likely to get. Five years covering golden wedding anniversaries, caged bird shows, council, court and everything else.
So the best possible foundation I could have ended up with. I’m kind of sad it doesn’t exist anymore.
- What’s the best thing about working in journalism?
Where I’ve been incredibly fortunate, apart from the year I worked in Dubai, I’ve always had an enormous satisfaction of enjoyment and fun. You’re doing something different every single day, you’re covering interesting stuff. You’re getting to express yourself creatively. And I s’pose where I’m lucky as well is that I don’t have a boss. And I think that counts for an awful lot.
- What’s been your best story or the story you’ve been most proud of?
If it was something I’ve written myself, it would be way back in my local newspaper days – the time I managed to start up a correspondence with an escaped awe-wielding maniac from Broadmoor. It was a guy called James ‘The Wolfman’ Saunders, who’d escaped from Broadmoor maximum security prison, which was on my local paper’s patch.
The first time he crossed my radar, he’d escaped. So as the weekend duty reporter, I was covering the escape. So then they captured him, and we struck up a bit of a postal correspondence, which was quite a nice story. As he dropped us a line to say, he just wanted a taste of freedom, and that he wouldn’t hurt anyone or try to escape again. Unfortunately he did then hurt someone again as he did try and escape again.
- What does the future look like for a journalist given all the changes?
The future of journalism is sustainable and about following the reader. Where people have got lost is when they think too much about the business model and the client and who is paying, and not enough about the reader, the viewer or the listener. My view on the model is demonstrated by what we do, we’re not a media company. We’re not an events company. We’re a career company. Our form of journalism is journalism as curator, who has a vision for their readers’ careers – whether they’re curating a conference session or whether they’re writing a news story. The future of specialized journalism is integrating and following someone in all aspects of their career and not just the written word.
- Name three people (dead or alive) you would like to go to drinks with…
David Ogilvy, Sir Martin Sorrell and Cindy Gallop
- Where would we find you in your spare time?
Based on my new year’s resolution, plodding laps around Centennial Park
- What would you do if you weren’t a journalist?
I honestly don’t know. Actually the randomness of how I ended up in journalism scares the hell out of me, to think I could have been doing anything else. It’s a terrifying thought.