In the latest ‘10 minutes with’ interview, The Sun’s Clark shares how she started her career at a student newspaper, how journalism holds politicians to account and her fabulous line-up of fantasy dinner party guests.
How did you get into journalism?
I always liked writing, but was terrible when I tried my hand at novels as a teen, forcing a major rethink. I dabbled with photography but my parents did their best to talk me out of it by telling me I’d be broke forever,
But when I got to university and joined the student newspaper, I really fell in love with journalism.
My best articles were on furious rows between the student union and the university, the ongoing saga of the local buses, and the price of a pint at the bar – but it was fantastic fun. I spent three years doing more on the Warwick Boar than my actual degree and went on to do an MA at City in newspaper journalism. A fantastic journalist called Paul Waugh gave me my first break at PoliticsHome, where I was delighted to finally get paid to watch Andrew Marr on the weekends, and the rest is essentially history now.
Why does journalism matter?
Journalism, to me, is all about our readers. Creating a product which is fun, informs, entertains, engages and makes our audience think is an incredible job to do, and I’m certainly never bored. Political reporting is a privilege but also it’s a vital job to hold our politicians to account and keep them honest and serving the public.
Best scoop (yours or someone else’s)?
Although I’m a lobby reporter, the perfect story is certainly a mix of astonishing news and a bit of old fashioned, shocking scandal. I love reading big scoops of leaked documents – my editor Harry Cole’s exclusive on leaked documents on the Cabinet’s emergency plans for a Covid second wave and a No Deal Brexit were great, as was the Operation Yellowhammer bombshell.
From my own cuts, I’m probably most proud of my scoop on the changing SAGE advice on masks, where scientists suggested Brits should wear them to protect from Covid risks. It took three weeks for Boris to confirm it, but here we are…
What are you working on right now?
Alongside my work as a political reporter on all things Boris, Brexit and Covid, I’m working on The Sun’s Green Team too.
We’re calling on readers to make small changes to help save the planet and hope to take them along with us on the journey to a greener future. Our Show Some Bottle campaign is urging ministers to bring forward a plan for a deposit return scheme to boost recycling and give Brits an incentive to do so, which we’re hopeful will come later this year.
Electric cars might be the future, but they’re pricey. We want to make sure our readers aren’t hit in the pocket and we’re taking them with us on the green journey. This autumn Britain will host the COP26 climate summit, and The Sun will be all over it.
Career highlight so far?
It still feels like I’ve barely started compared to some of the other lobby reporters who’ve been roaming the corridors of power for decades. But since I started my career I’ve somehow managed to cover the most exciting time in British politics in decades, there’s far too much to note.
Watching David Cameron resign after losing the Brexit vote was one of the most thrilling telly moments I’ll probably ever see. And reporting from Whitehall as Covid closed in on the world felt like a real privilege to do for our readers, telling them what was happening and what it meant for them.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Make friends with as many people as possible – you never know when you’ll need them in journalism. Pals may turn out to be good contacts, and journalism friends have saved me from many a tight spot.
Who or what inspires you most?
I’m incredibly lucky to be surrounded by fantastic political journalists on a daily basis who never cease to inspire me. My lobby colleagues, some of whom have decades of experience following MPs around the corridors of power constantly give me journalism goals. Their fun, fearless reporting and constant digging infuriates everyone, but inspires me and makes me strive to be a better reporter.
Who would be your fantasy dinner party guests and why?
Harry and Wills to get the Palace gossip and try and restore some brotherly love, Dua Lipa can perform and add a sprinkle of drama, Stanley Johnson for a sprinkling of politics, Arnie Schwarzenegger to talk all things Green Team, and Nigella can help me out in the kitchen.
How do you switch off from work?
As much exercise as possible to exhaust me so much I can no longer think about it! Running, cycling and swimming all work for me.
Gym or gin?
Gym THEN gin.
If I wasn’t a journalist, I would be…
Running a coffee shop/bakery, which turns into a wine bar in the evenings. The ideal place to find a few stories, I’m sure.