In the latest ‘10 minutes with’ interview, Metro.co.uk’s features director Claie Wilson tells us about how she got into journalism, the importance of treating everyone with respect and her greatest inspiration.
How did you get into journalism?
My dad was a journalist working for the nationals (mainly the Sunday Mirror), so it was very much part of my life for as long as I can remember. His job always seemed so fascinating and fun – he used to bring home Smash Hits magazine for me every week – that I naturally wanted to follow in his footsteps. After spending an unforgettable year in America as an au pair when I was 18, I came back to the UK to study periodical journalism at the London College of Printing in Clerkenwell. As part of my course, I did work experience at the News of The World supplement called Sunday, as well as Prima and Bella magazine. At each place I worked my nuts off to make myself indispensable which paid off, as when a job came up for an editorial assistant at Prima soon after I left college, I got it. From there I’ve worked in mags, papers and now digital. I’ve also worked with some really strong and formidable women in the business, which has been invaluable.
Why does journalism matter?
From a features perspective, it matters because we give people a voice to tell their story. In turn, their experience may help so many others and that can be life-changing, even lifesaving. I like to think that what we do also allows people to understand things they may never comprehend or experience otherwise, while maybe learning something new. It also matters because a good story can make someone smile as well as cry.
Best scoop (yours or someone else’s)?
In my previous role as features director at Fabulous magazine, I got TV presenter Stacey Solomon to interview Boris Johnson, who was then Foreign Secretary. It was a really quick turnaround as we had just 20 mins to do a chat and shoot in the Foreign Office before the piece had to go to press that evening. I had to come up with the questions and then transcribe and write it all up after. From that quick chat, we got some brilliant pics and great lines – from his dad going into the I’m A Celeb jungle to the importance of education for girls across the globe, and whether he would ever want to be PM one day…
What are you working on right now?
I’m juggling a lot of plates at the moment from overseeing our brilliant long-read series, In Focus, to getting ready to launch our Metro.co.uk Lifeline campaign at the beginning of March, which is a charity fundraiser. On top of that, we’ve got a really exciting across-site project coming up, which is top secret so I can’t say any more.
Career highlight so far?
Going to Iraq to interview British female soldiers in Basra. It was with TV presenter Gethin Jones, who was the first male ‘forces sweetheart’. As we waited in Kuwait to get on a Hercules to take us into Camp Bastion there was a mortar attack, which was pretty nerve-wracking. Once at the camp we got a real insight into how the women on the frontline lived, worked, trained and relaxed, which was such a privilege and something I will never forget. More recently, I launched the first-ever Metro.co.uk Lifeline campaign last year, which ended up raising a whopping £60k for The Hygiene Bank – we had to launch it in the middle of lockdown and didn’t have a clue if anyone would sign up or have any money to give. The fact that we ended up having nearly 60 people (including Vicky Pattison and Meg Mathews) trekking 26miles across London to raise money that would literally help save lives, was a pretty proud moment for me!
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Treat everyone you work with, with respect – and help out when you can (not only is it simply the right thing to do, but you never know who will be coming up when you’re on your way down!).
Who or what inspires you most?
My dad, who died two years ago, remains my greatest inspiration. He was a brilliant journalist, incredibly hardworking and always made time for everyone.
Who would be your fantasy dinner party guests and why?
Prince. Wouldn’t need anyone else there! The man was a genius and the best musician the world has ever seen (IMO). I’d want to chat to him about EVERYTHING and then he’d no doubt end up spending the rest of the evening jamming. It would be awesome.
How do you switch off from work?
I’m not sure journalists ever do switch off from work, but I have two children so they provide enough distraction. I also love a good physical challenge, so try to sign up to an extreme event every year. The training alone is a great way to clear the mind or have a good think about stuff.
Gym or gin?
For me it’s run/hike or wine and I think there’s room for both.
If I wasn’t a journalist, I would be…
Looking at least ten years younger! Seriously, I have no idea what else I could do. Although I think being someone who gets to review spas would be a pretty cool job!