Freelance journalist Peter Crosskey brings us a taste of France in today’s journalist interview. Specialising in all things Francophone and food, Peter talks about his work and relationship with PRs, and how a herd of 1,500 buffalo fit in…
About your journalism
What do you write about?
Most of my stories are about an aspect of France, usually but not exclusively with a food connection: food production, manufacturing and the environment in which it operates. It is very rewarding to be able to talk to people in French and to write an article in English that spans the culture gap constructively. In the past, the English appetite for exotic places has focussed on extracting wealth rather than knowledge.
Not sure, really. All my adult life I have enjoyed speaking French and do so fluently. It means that you hear a completely different story and often a more credible one. After 20 years with French in-laws, I feel at home on both sides of the Channel, too, which helps when interviewing.
Where are we likely to see your work?
Back in April, The Canmaker ran a couple of pages’ worth of my copy about French vegetable group Bonduelle; the May/June issue of Business First magazine has a feature about former Formula 1 world champion Jodi Scheckter, who has Europe’s largest herd of 1,500+ buffalo at Laverstoke Park in Hampshire (no French link whatsoever!); the 5M publishing group takes some of my copy on its sites, eg thepigsite.com and thefishsite.com among others; there is also a lot behind paywalls with Informa’s Agra titles and Just-Food.com.
What’s the most memorable work you’ve done?
During the past year I have made a couple of trips to Boulogne sur Mer and written extensively about Europe’s largest fish-processing centre (there’s a chunk on thefishsite.com – see Good For The Sea And Good For You and Boulogne Builds a Future with Vision for Fish Handling and International Food Ingredients ran some copy from the second trip).
What interview or feature would you love the chance to do?
If time travel journalism were possible, I would love to interview Nicolas Appert, the eponymous inventor of appertisation or food canning, who lived 200 years ago. He survived life at the front line of the revolution in Paris, narrowly avoiding execution at the hand of Robespierre: a few hours and industrial society would have had to wait years for a safe way of preserving food. Cities were hungry places back then!
About you and PRs:
Where do you source ideas for articles?
Trawling French RSS feeds, French local government news, regional and national government agencies/trade associations.
How can PRs be useful to you?
Informative briefings ahead of a meeting: relevant and specific data.
How and when do you like them to get in touch?
By email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and well in advance if there is travel to organise.
Do you find press conferences, trips, parties and other events useful or an interruption?
The amount of detail available in press conferences is variable, can be low signal to noise ratio; talking one to one can cover a lot of ground. Group visits/trips/parties often lose focus: not my forte.
If you could make one change to the way PRs deal with you, what would it be?
Relax: writing credible editorial copy means being factual, even if this is awkward for the client sometimes. Facts have to be allowed to speak for themselves, otherwise there is no point in being a journalist. CP Scott had it about right.
How would you pay the bills if you weren’t a journalist?
Doing something that involves speaking French a lot of the time.
If we gave you £1000, how would you spend it?
I’d gather a busload of my French in-laws for a long lunch somewhere that welcomes guests with good family food. We’d spend the rest of the day talking about everything and nothing over plates of local, seasonal produce. Priceless.
What books are on your bedside table, magazines in your bag, or blogs on your screen?
I’ve recently finished reading Soil And Soul by Alistair McIntosh and What Matters? by Wendell Berry. I’m looking forward to reading Colin Tudge’s latest book Good Food For Everyone Forever (subtitled ”a people’s takeover of the world’s food supply”) and can’t wait to get my hands on a copy of The Protein Crunch by Jason Drew.
[lnk|http://www.journalistdirectory.com/journalist/XLLEX/Peter-Crosskey/|_blank|Peter Crosskey on the Freelance Journalist Directory]
[lnk|http://www.crosskey.co.uk/|_blank|Francophone journalist Peter Crosskey]
[img|jpg|Freelance journalist Peter Crosskey]