Freelance Journalist Interview with David Hewitt
Hello David! What do you write about, and where are we likely to see your work?
Hello back to you. Well, I mainly write about conservation and wildlife, though I have dabbled with travel. Most regularly, I write about British wildlife for the Yorkshire Post, European affairs for the Toronto Star, and African conservation for SWARA, which is the magazine of the East African Wildlife Societies.
What inspired your focus on wildlife conservation and environmental subjects – was this a personal interest first and something you feel strongly about now?
I have always loved nature, but got into writing about it largely when I joined the Gorilla Organization on a part-time basis. This opened up a whole world of contacts and stories for me.
You’ve written pieces for environmental publications such as Earth Times, as well as for The Guardian and The Independent – do the mainstream press run enough features on your specialist subjects? What would you like to see more of out there?
Yes and no. There's always plenty of grim news but very little that inspires. Which is a shame as there are so many people coming up with innovative ways of halting habitat loss or stopping poaching and many real success stories. More of these could help combat the whole 'what's the point in trying, they're going extinct anyway' attitude far too many people have.
What’s the most memorable work you’ve done?
I recently went to the Faroe Islands for a press trip, and was overwhelmed by just how amazing that place is. That will take some beating. But I'd say my most memorable was a piece I did on thefts of rhino horns from European museums for the Toronto Star Saturday magazine – trudging around museums in London and the Netherlands, speaking to world experts and getting my first international byline.
What interview or feature would you love the opportunity to do?
It's obvious, but true – I'd love to interview Sir David Attenborough.
As you work as a communications manager for a conservation charity, does most of your inspiration come from there, or do you work with PRs also?
I get a fair few ideas from my comms job, but yes, PRs from other conservation charities, museums, and NGOs have all proven very useful in the past.
How can PRs be useful, and how should they get in touch?
I always like inspiring stories as I find these easier to pitch to editors. So, good news and solutions to conservation or environmental issues. The best way is to just email me at email@example.com.
Do you ever attend press conferences, trips, parties or other events?
Yes, I've been lucky enough to be on a few press trips and launches and I'm always grateful for invites.
Do you use social media? If not, why not?
Well, I do follow Twitter for news and ideas, but am a lapsed Tweeter myself. Will definitely get onto that again, though.
If you could encourage everyone reading this to do just one thing to help the environment, what would it be?
Right now, getting behind campaigns for sustainable palm oil could make a real difference. Friends of the Earth do some great work here.
What media do you enjoy in your spare time (books, magazines, papers, blogs, TV, film)?
As well as writing freelance pieces and working for a conservation charity, you’re working on your PhD – what are you studying, and where?
At the School of Modern Languages and Culture, University of Leeds. It's on the cultural history of the Spanish Second Republic, so not related to the day job at all!