Freelance Journalist Focus: Matthew Moggridge

Today’s Focus interviewee is freelance writer and former editor of Club Mirror magazine, Matthew Moggridge. Here he talks about his recent contributions to Club Mirror, his specialism in the food processing industries and the features he hopes to cover in the future.

What do you write about?

I tend to write about anything, unless it’s something that requires a life sciences degree. My long-term freelance contract with Club Mirror magazine came to an end this month and I’m actively (frantically) looking for work, but for the past three years I’ve been a ‘drinks journalist’, writing about licensed clubs in the UK. Prior to that I was writing about the international food processing industry – that was great as I travelled all over the world – and before that it was fine dining, luxury hotels, Michelin-starred restaurants and pub food. I’ve also written a few satirical features for an on-line newspaper – but that’s unpaid and doesn’t really count.

I’ve interviewed Gordon Ramsay and Jean-Christophe Novelli, among many other high profile chefs and just recently I interviewed the great Peter Stringfellow and the legendary jump jockey, Bob Champion (the latter for my last issue of Club Mirror). I’ve interviewed Hollywood stars, like Terence Stamp; captains of industry, like Sir Terence Conran; ‘celebrity’ businessmen like Duncan Bannatyne, the list is endless.

Where are we likely to see your work?

At the moment, all my recent work has been on Club Mirror magazine. My last issue went to press a couple of weeks ago and, as I said, I’m now looking for work. Hopefully, you’ll see my work all over the place in the not-too-distant future.

What’s the most memorable work you’ve done?

That’s a tough question as it’s all been good, but I guess it has to be a toss-up between my time on the food processing titles – I travelled to great places like Miami and Portland in the US as well as some interesting parts of Eastern Europe – and my time in the world of fine dining and hotels. My photographer colleague Rob Wilkinson and I have some great stories: it was frighteningly similar to Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan in The Trip.

What interview or feature would you love the chance to do?

There are so many! On the feature front, I’d love to write about the Trans Siberia Express. I’ve never been on it, but I’d love to ride from Moscow to Vladivostok. As for the big interview, the list is endless.

Where do you source ideas for articles?

Where freelance work is concerned, a lot of the jobs are offered, ie, “Could you write a feature on…”, but when I was a full-time editor, most of the feature ideas, ie personalities to interview or places to go, were generated by yours truly.

How can PRs be useful to you?

Often by suggesting feature ideas or sending through press releases that spark an idea.

How and when do you like them to get in touch?

I don’t mind PRs contacting me at any time. The best way is by email.

Do you find press conferences, trips, parties and other events useful or an interruption?

Yes, but these days there are not enough of them. Back in the day (actually, not that long ago) press events were great places to network with other journalists, put a face to the name of a PR and find out some useful information about their clients. Very often, press events spark ideas too, but, taking Club Mirror as a prime example, for the past three years I could count on one hand the number of press conferences I’ve been invited to.

If you could make one change to the way PRs deal with you, what would it be?

In the old days, I would say stop asking if I’ve received your press release, but I think they’ve got the message on that one. In all honesty, I have no problem with PRs and I’m happy to talk to them.

How would you pay the bills if you weren’t a journalist?

I’ve discovered it’s possible to earn the same sort of money as a train driver!

If we gave you £1000, how would you spend it?

Had you asked me that question a couple of months ago, I’d have said a Fender Precision bass guitar and amp (I used to play the violin and reckon I could play the bass), but now, as I tout for freelance work and cultivate a desperate expression, it would simply pay the bills.

What books are on your bedside table, magazines in your bag, or blogs on your screen?

No books at present as I find it difficult to enjoy reading when I’m stressed up about something – in this case finding work and fast. Normally, though, American literature: Cormac McCarthy, Richard Yates, John Updike, Willy Vlautin. Blog wise, I maintain two blogs of my own – in fact I’ve just been invited to chat on BBC Radio Five Live as a result of somebody reading one of my blog posts – and I tend not to read other blogs. In the late 90s I used to read Q magazine quite a lot, but I’ve gone off it lately.
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