Guild Member Gemma Mackenzie, farming editor at the Press and Journal, explains how growing up on a dairy farm prepared her for a life of writing about agriculture – but not for a life as a guest speaker.
Describe your job in a sentence
Hectic and high-pressure but good fun.
What time did you alarm go off this morning?
I’m on holiday while filling this in so it was 8.30am. On work days it varies between 7 and 8am.
Did you always want to be an agricultural journalist?
I always liked the idea of becoming a journalist but the idea to become a farming journalist arose when a journalism lecturer told the class ‘specialise in what you know’. I decided to do farming because not many other people do it and I had an interest in the industry after growing up on a dairy farm on the Isle of Lewis.
Describe an average working day for you
The average day is a juggling act. The P&J is a daily paper so it’s a case of sorting stories for the main paper from Monday to Friday and also preparing editorial for our weekly 16-page farming supplement on a Saturday.
What’s the best thing about what you do?
Meeting interesting people and visiting passionate hard-working farmers. Nothing beats seeing your stories looking good in print too.
What’s your favourite farming event?
I love the Stirling Bull Sales.
What’s the toughest story you’ve ever written?
Writing about my family’s decision to stop dairy farming was tough.
Describe your readers in three words
Honest, inquisitive and critical.
What’s the most embarrassing thing you’ve done in the name of work?
Turning up to an event and not realising I was a guest speaker.
What’s the best fact you’ve learnt whilst researching a story?
Mackie’s ice cream has an entire room dedicated to making honeycomb in its factory.
Tell us something not many people know about you
I was in a rock covers band briefly when I was a teenager.
Mackenzie in a minute:
What’s your coffeeshop order? Flat white
Twitter or Facebook? Twitter
What colour are your wellies? Dark green
Is there anything that’s really popular that you don’t like? The word millennial
What was the last book you read? Some romantic trash on holiday.
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