In the latest ‘10 minutes with’ interview, the Daily Mail’s business correspondent Tom Witherow reveals his biggest scoop, what it is like interviewing David Attenborough and that his best piece of writing advice involves a pub!
How did you get into journalism?
I started writing features in my freshers’ year at York Uni for its student paper Nouse, and my first job was as a diary reporter for the Mail on Sunday.
Why does journalism matter?
Journalism is the last defence in holding powerful people and institutions to account, it gives ordinary people a voice, and brings audiences together – something that feels more important now than ever.
Last year the Mail exposed how a big gambling company called Playtech used a legal loophole to dodge a £3.5million fine for its role in a young engineer’s suicide. Its staff plied Chris Bruney with bonuses to keep him betting and losing – in the end, he couldn’t take it and took his own life. The paper went hard on the story and after three days of coverage, Playtech’s chairman buckled and agreed to pay up in full and offered a personal apology to Chris’ family. It was great to get a result for them and a major win for the Mail’s campaign for tighter rules for betting companies.
What are you working on right now?
Day-to-day there’s no let-up on virus coverage. But I also look after the Mail’s campaign for justice for thousands of post office staffers falsely accused of stealing from their own tills. There’s a big Court of Appeal fight to get their convictions overturned and an independent inquiry, so plenty to keep me busy.
Career highlight so far?
I was in Manchester for the best part of a month reporting on the aftermath of the awful bombing in 2017. It was an amazing experience and humbling to witness the incredible strength the community showed in coming together. It still feels like one of the defining events of the last decade, so I feel very lucky to have been there. On a lighter note, I interviewed David Attenborough a few weeks into my first job, touching on important subjects such as his near-death experience chasing after komodo dragons. Not quite a front-page scoop but as far as bucket list interview subjects go, he’ll take some beating.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
The best writing tip I was given was to write your intro like you’re shouting it across a noisy pub. I use it every time I write.
Who or what inspires you most?
The determination of normal people who take huge risks to stand up for something.
Who would be your fantasy dinner party guests and why?
Adrian Gill, Marie Colvin, Stevie Nicks and Mick Jagger – I reckon they’d have some stories to tell (and probably know how to have a good time).
How do you switch off from work?
For now: fancy cooking and long runs.
Gym or gin?
As the gyms are shut, so it’d better be gin!
If I wasn’t a journalist, I would be…
A barrister – I’m in awe of what they do.