In our interview with Jane, we talk personal (and no doubt very flattering) invitations from agony aunts, campaigns that make a difference, and we also touch on the The Sun's Page 3 models…debate.
About your work at The Sun
Hello Jane! Having taken on the Cashflow section at The Sun back in June, how are you enjoying the role?
It’s good to be reporting on a whole new area and learning, as well as helping readers. In some publications, personal finance can be a little dry so it’s my job to make sure it’s relevant, interesting and accessible for Sun readers.
How different is it from working on consumer stories for the paper?
I’m still covering a lot of consumer issues and also writing the Sunemployment careers page, so I’m keeping up-to-date with everything going on in those areas. I was never a showbiz writer covering celeb scandals, but I did do six years as the only woman on The Sun’s newsdesk – which was very enlightening! And a fantastic place to learn.
If you had to explain The Sun to someone who’d never heard of it before (maybe one of the aliens from The Simpsons…), how would you describe it?
All the news you need to know, which will shock and amaze, on every page.
You’ve recently written about The Sun’s ‘Our Safe Kids Online’ campaign – of the campaigns you’ve worked on while at The Sun, what has been your favourite/most successful?
All the campaigns on The Sun are very carefully thought-out before launching to be of maximum benefit to the reader, or to make a badly needed change, be it political or in society as a whole. I’m proud to have worked on a lot of them but my favourite is Sunemployment, as it’s still going strong three years on and helping so many people, along with Help for Heroes. It radically changed perceptions of the military.
I have to ask about Page 3 models…have you ever campaigned to be featured on the page yourself?
My god, no. After two kids, I don’t think anyone wants to see me over their cornflakes. I was asked to be in Dear Deidre as a wife who turned her husband gay. Perhaps there is a theme going on here…
Do you think Page 3 models will always be a part of The Sun?
While the current fashion is for dangerously thin celebs and fashion models with unhealthy BMIs, it’s telling that the one place you can see a girl with a normal body shape is in a tabloid.
About The Sun and freelance journalists
Does The Sun pay for contributions from freelance journalists? If so, what do you think are most important attributes that make a freelance journalist stand out and would make the team at The Sun use them again?
We do, but very rarely. The team at The Sun is quite big, so we tend to have enough material in-house. That said, if there is an outstanding idea from a freelancer we know and trust, we will take it. The best way to get it is to either work at an agency we know and use or to deal with the newsdesk and provide lots of regular, exclusive tips until we know you are reliable.
What information/input from PRs is most useful to you? Do you like being wined and dined, or do you prefer email/phone?
I’d love to be wined and dined but I just don’t have the time. An email is fine [Jane is also a poet, and she didn't even know it – The Ed].
Describe a typical day at work: What are your editorial duties/responsibilities at the outlet (e.g. commissioning, subbing, features, interviewing)?
I start around 9am planning the day and scanning through all the releases and contact emails for that day. Monday and Tuesday are my busiest days when I write and edit my two regular weekly pages, Sunemployment and Cashflow. The rest of the week is planning, plus assisting the newsdesk with any breaking news stories they need me to write. As a mum, I get a lot of parenting stories and consumer ones angled in this area, along with women’s interest news.
How important would you say biscuits and cups of tea are when it comes to working at a desk?
Vital – I’m powered by Earl Grey and chocolate biscuits.
What did you dream of doing when you were growing up?
All I ever wanted to do was be a tabloid hack, so I’m, err, living the dream!
Of all the articles/interviews you’ve worked on, what has been your favourite?
My personal favourite was about a lady who narrowly escaped the Twin Towers in 9/11 and gave birth to a baby on 9/11 the following year. It has always stuck in my mind as so lovely, uplifting and life-affirming in the midst of so much turmoil. Her family were Irish and invited me to stay, as it made a splash in the Irish Sun. We get a lot of letters and cards from people we have written about and helped.
Are there any you wish you could go back and change?
Nobody likes writing negative articles but if you do, they are justified.
If you could get any ‘scoop’ for The Sun, what would it be?
I can’t tell you that as then it won’t be exclusive when I do get it!
Jane Hamilton can be found tweeting @JJhamilton; tweet her news on Earl Grey and chocolate biscuits.