In the latest ‘10 minutes with’ interview, Daily Mail’s Khan discusses how he got into journalism, why it matters and his best piece of advice.
How did you get into journalism?
Journalism was never seen as a feasible route being from an economically disadvantaged area, but it was what I most wanted to do. I wrote for the local paper at college. From there, at 17 I applied for the Daily Mail Stephen Lawrence scholarship. I was interviewed but lacked experience so went on to study Journalism at university. Then the Mail and SL Foundation awarded me a scholarship to do a Masters in Investigative Journalism at City, University of London. It very much changed my prospects.
Why does journalism matter?
With the good journalism that is ever-present, some of those who wield power still try to avoid being held to account so can’t imagine a world without it! But it’s also crucial in terms of shining light on uncomfortable areas. Social media abuse in sport is a good example, which has put tech giants to scrutiny.
Best scoop (yours or someone else’s)?
I interviewed former England opening batsman Michael Carberry last year on the “horrific” racism he experienced during his career. On the back of this, the England and Wales Cricket Board three weeks later announced a BAME action plan to help address the sport’s poor representation in important positions. It was pleasing to have such an impact on the news agenda.
More recently, I interviewed Britain’s first black female Olympian Anita Neil. She hadn’t given an interview in over 40 years and it took multiple weeks to track her down. Neil opened up about her tough experiences and feeling ignored for decades. The British Olympic Association subsequently issued Anita a formal letter of recognition amid calls for a street to be named in her honour.
What are you working on right now?
Currently sub-editing full-time and reporting in my spare time. A typical day involves editing the other reporters’ copy, getting copy to fit pages and thinking of headlines. On a writing front, I engage in both the hard news and feature style aspects. That involves interviews with sportspeople, data-driven pieces and general features. The investigative side of journalism is an area I’m especially keen on — I interviewed the Nepalese widow of a Qatar World Cup worker fatality last year and uncovered data to show a shocking increase in Nepalese worker deaths.
Career highlight so far?
Being recently shortlisted for SJA Young Sports Journalist of the Year was a proud moment. My entry consisted of articles I had done in my free time whilst being a sub-editor, so it was a surprise — and an improvement on being shortlisted for NCTJ News Journalist of the Year at university. Hearing the courageous stories of sportspeople from a variety of backgrounds and witnessing sheer sporting talent is also enjoyable.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
The best writing tip I’ve been told is think how you’d tell the story to your mates in the pub. The main catch line needs to be mentioned high up.
Who or what inspires you most?
Sportspeople who use their talents and profile to bring awareness to issues which would often be overlooked.
Who would be your fantasy dinner party guests and why?
Muhammad Ali, Eric Cantona and Travis Scott. Two sporting icons with exuberant personalities, and a rap superstar. They’d all surely have a good story or two and know how to have a good time.
How do you switch off from work?
I keep active and hope to go back to playing sport once normality returns. Long walks have had to suffice in recent months.
Gym or gin?
Gym. Haven’t been since March last year and missing it by the day…
If I wasn’t a journalist, I would be…
No other career was ever considered, to be honest!