Mark McLaughlin - Journalist
Class of 2005
“When I was 19 years old, an old hack told me: ‘You won’t become a millionaire, you won’t have time for lunch - you’ll get a bun on the run. But if you’re lucky, you’ll meet some interesting people and have a great time doing it.’ - And he was right.”
- Mark McLaughlin, BA (Hons) Journalism 2005
Mark, who is now the Scotland Politics and Education Correspondent for The Times, has found the experienced journalist’s advice has been 100 per cent true.
He has worked at The Courier, Edinburgh Evening News, Holyrood Magazine, The Press Association, and before joining The Times, he was the first and only dedicated Scotland reporter for Agence France-Presse. Since the coronavirus outbreak, he has been leading on The Times coverage, regularly posing questions to the First Minister at her regular briefings.
Throughout his impressive career thus far, he has met a lot of interesting people and had quite a few ‘buns on the run’. Now it's his turn to give some advice to aspiring and fledgling journalists.
Mark says focusing on kindness and his audience has been key to his success. His advice is to, “Be kind. You never know how many stories you could have heard from the contact that you burned.” He also recommends aspiring journalists, “Focus on what matters to ordinary people - no matter how eloquently you write, if you don’t tell the stories that matter to your audience nobody will want to read your flowery prose.”
Journalist and the mass media have been under threat in recent years. Despite this, Mark believes accurate and competent journalism has never been more needed. To get a varied career, Mark recommends embracing video journalism and learning languages. He explains, “I went from a petulant writer with a camera to producing videos for international broadcasters by embracing the creative potential of the camera.” He is also studying both French and Arabic, “Learning a second language will make you employable around the world... I’m not proficient at any of them, but I live in hope.”
Mark’s last bit of advice may sound obvious, but he says you’d be surprised how many journalists don’t follow it. His advice is - “read newspapers”!