“This is not a 9–5 job, and if you expect it to be, you’re in the wrong profession.” That’s the advice Louise Boyle has for aspiring journalists. She should know — as Senior-Reporter-At-Large for DailyMail.com, she is part of one of the leading and most-read newspaper websites in world (ranked 97 by traffic analytics engine Alexa, beating the New York Times). DailyMail.com is the online behemoth of the British Daily Mail newspaper which has one of the largest circulations in the UK.
Louise, who grew up in Gourock, a small town on the West Coast of Scotland, is now based in New York, where she has worked for DailyMail.com for the past six years. She was selected from the London bureau and, alongside a select team of journalists, was instrumental in growing DailyMail.com to 240 million readers a month.
In her current position as Senior-Reporter-at-Large, Louise’s routine changes from day to day and from place to place. She has traveled to 42 US states to cover stories and her work has also taken her to Honduras, the Philippines and the French West Indies.
Louise took some time out of her unpredictable and busy schedule to answer our questions:
How did you get into journalism?
I studied English Literature at Edinburgh University and was an editor at The Student newspaper. I spent a lot of my free time on the paper and when I graduated, I was determined that journalism was what I wanted to pursue. I had a brief foray into PR — which I was terrible at — and then I applied to the Daily Mail Graduate Trainee Scheme in London and spent the next year learning the ropes in on-the-job training in both the UK and Ireland.
How important is training?
I believe that journalism is in its essence a trade, so on-the-job training is invaluable, particularly in the digital age. Developing your skills in pitching, researching and writing stories is vital, along with learning web publishing systems — but I have always learned the most on the ground.
What does a day in the life of a reporter look like?
In any given week, I could be in several different states in the U.S., working on a story. One morning, I could be at a courthouse in downtown New York covering a trial and that evening, I could be on a flight to Ohio for a breaking news story. The variety is what I love most about the job. However you have to be prepared for the long hours and the regular weekend and evening work.
Tell us about your biggest scoop or most rewarding story?
I broke the story of the White House aide Rob Porter’s alleged domestic abuse of his two ex-wives. It dominated the news cycle for several days and had major political ramifications in relation to security clearances at the White House. One of the most rewarding stories I worked on was the Keystone pipeline protests at the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota. The conditions were tough — it was the middle of winter and my photographer and I lived out of a camper van with no running water for a week! — but being able to witness the peaceful protests of the Sioux tribe and the thousands who came to support them, is something I will never forget..