Freelance Journalist Interview with Katy Harrington
Former Beauty Magazine editor Katy Harrington's freelance mission? To boldly blog for The Huffington Post (UK) on beauty, to write lifestyle features for a variety of Irish broadsheets and UK papers, to start a book this Summer, and to "cut through all the BS and have a laugh" about beauty-related 'battles'.
Brandishing skills such as a background in PR and women's glossies, Katy is ready to blog, write, talk and tweet. Let's find out more about her work…
About your journalism
Hi there Katy! You recently left your position as editor of Beauty Magazine – what prompted the change, and what will you be working on?
Hi yourself. I loved my time at Beauty Magazine, and will I miss it (especially when I run out of moisturiser), but I felt I had done everything I could at the title and needed to pass it over to someone new. I am going to freelance for the summer and hopefully get started on writing a book.
Where are we likely to see your writing, and what subjects do you focus on in your work?
At the moment my bread and butter is writing lifestyle features, interviews and travel for national Irish broadsheets like the Irish Examiner, the Sunday Independent and The Irish Post weekly newspaper here in London (if you haven’t guessed by now – I’m Irish).
I have a weekly column in the Sunday Independent about how pathetic I am at life in general, but especially dating. You should read it; it will most certainly make you feel better about your life.
I also have a new beauty blog on the The Huffington Post (UK). It’s all about cutting through the BS, and having a bit of a laugh about it all. You can read it here.
What’s the most memorable work you’ve done?
This is one of the columns that got the best reaction; people like talking about sex, I guess.
I love interviewing and want to do more of it. Dara O’Briain was an interesting guy.
I also wrote a feature about how despite what everyone tells you, turning thirty DOES NOT suck. I’m kinda proud of that.
What interview or feature would you love the chance to do?
Dream interviews would be Bruce Springsteen, Dylan Moran, Matt Berninger from The National, Alex Turner from Arctic Monkeys…basically people I am in love with.
How did you originally get started in journalism?
I studied English, then did a Masters in English, then got fed up of everyone asking me when I was going to be an English teacher. After several years of mucking around, I was hired by a high-profile PR firm in Dublin. I was there a matter of weeks when I realised I wanted to be the journalist at the end of the phone, and not the PR doing the calling. I left PR for my first journalism role as the editor of a regional women’s glossy magazine in Ireland, and it went from there.
About you and PRs
What has been your most unusual source of inspiration for a story?
It’s not unusual, but most of my best ideas are things I steal from conversations with friends/family/colleagues. Whenever I hear someone tearing their hair out about something, I think 'that would make a good feature'. Basically, I use other people’s distress for my financial gain…I should be a politician.
How can PRs be useful to you, and how and when do you like them to get in touch?
Just tell me what you know! I would never complain about having too much information. Anything irrelevant is binned straight away anyway, so send, send, send, or even better still…pick up the phone and let’s talk. I’m old fashioned like that.
Do you find press conferences, trips, parties and other events useful or an interruption?
Useful, but saying that, I have sat in many a lengthy beauty launch wondering ‘when the hell are they going to get to the point?’
Press trips are great, and I do a bit of travel writing so I always want to hear about new and unusual trips. The only bugbear about press trips is the itinerary is always so packed you barely have time to brush your teeth in the hotel…but that’s the kind of complaint I hear myself say, and then immediately hate myself for being a spoilt, ungrateful human.
What’s the most expensive beauty treatment/product you’ve tried, and did it work?
Honestly, if there is one thing I learned in my three years as a beauty editor, it’s that spending your cash on every new fad and product is futile. Find brands that you like, and give them a chance to work. To me, a thirty-year-old spending £90 on a serum is crazy.
I love mid-price, efficacious but luxurious-feeling skincare ranges by French brands like Nuxe, Caudalie, Avene and La-Roche Posay. With treatments, it’s different, because you are going for the experience – some people love to be wrapped in seaweed and left there for days…It’s not really my thing, but if I was spending my own hard-earned cash on a massage, I’d be straight into the Aveda Institute in Holborn.
You’ve been described as “anti-Facebook, but pro Twitter” – how come?
Facebook ruined my life…well, not quite, but I did find myself spending a lot of time with friends discussing Facebook and I'd just had enough. I gave it up a year ago and have never missed it – except when I am the last to hear about a party. Honestly, it is possible to have a full and happy existence without minute-by-minute updates about what some idiot you were in school with ten years ago just ate in Sushi Samba.
That fox from 'Game of Thrones'? No, I never get mixed up with him, but I’d like to.
What books are on your bedside table, magazines in your bag, or blogs on your screen?
Christopher Hitchens' 'Hitch-22' and 'The Savage Detectives' by Roberto Bolano on the bedside table, a copy of Glamour and Vice in my bag. As for blogs, pathetic as it may sound, the only ones I look at are the ones that give style advice, or help me dress less like a homeless lady (Today I’m Wearing, etc.).
And finally, you're qualified to rule on this… doing make-up on the train – are you for or against it?
For me, it’s make-up on the bus, and I’m all for it. Just try not to drop any brushes under the seat or elbow the man eating a scone next to you when you are doing your liquid eyeliner. [We can't promise that – Ed]
Katy Harrington is tweeting @tweetkatyh. So why not tweet her?