folder icon list icon new list icon new folder Save to list notifaction icon yes tick yes tick yes tick with circle delete cross delete cross minus small - for download tool delete cross plus sign - small expander search magnifying glass icon for gettign to print page icon for email addresses icon for features timing icon for features timing LinkedIn icon Facebook icon youtube icon twitter icon google+ icon external link icon fo profile pages mail icon small mail icon for contact listings phone icon phone icon for listings twitter bird save icon export icon delete icon duplicate icon move to a diff folder mini search icon right arrow
Skip navigation
You are using an outdated browser. Please upgrade your browser.

A focus on The Focus with managing editor Paul Watson

The Focus

Here to help furloughed and out-of-work journalists continue to flex their writing muscles while the COVID-19 crisis has put things on hold is The Focus. As well as providing a space for writers to share work focusing on culture, opinion, sport, politics, tech and lifestyle, the website is donating all revenue raised from advertising to NHS and mental health charities.

Managing editor Paul Watson shares how the team works, how you can contribute if you’re itching to write while furloughed, which initiatives are working hard to help journalists during difficult times and why journalism is still a career path worth pursuing (even when the way ahead gets rocky).

Could you tell us a bit about the aims behind the launch of The Focus?

The Focus was launched as a platform for furloughed and out-of-work writers to continue to write and express themselves creatively during a difficult period. All revenue raised from advertising is being donated to the NHS and mental health charities.

What is the editorial structure for the team, how do your day-to-days work?

We have a small but very committed editorial team who allocate as much time as they can to it each day. As they are volunteers, we have to be flexible. We use a Slack workspace so the writers and editorial staff can communicate easily. As the number of writers is constantly increasing, it is becoming a busy place!

How should journalists get in touch to work with you?

Any journalist interested in writing for us can email   

Are there particular areas of expertise you’re looking to fill on the team/feature on the website?

We are open to anything and everything! Part of the ethos of the site is for writers to engage their passions, so while we are happy to throw in ideas, we are also keen to hear what our writers are excited about. We are always in need of more editorial support and as we continue to grow, that is becoming increasingly important.

How can PRs contribute/support?

We’re keen to receive positive news stories, so PRs can get in touch with feel-good initiatives, anything with a philanthropic slant and news of interesting online events and campaigns.

Has the Government has done enough to support freelance journalists during the COVID-19 crisis?

Honestly, it’s hard to say. The first self-employed grant and the second to follow in August was a great relief, I’m sure, for many journalists. But there are still far too many people who slip through the cracks and aren’t eligible for help. Some of those are the people who need it most.

Which organisations/initiatives would you advise furloughed/out of work journalists connect with for support?

There are free online seminars being provided by various people such as BSME and Women in Journalism, and EJC‘s Freelance Journalism Assembly has just launched to support the self-employed community. It’s also worth checking out the Society of Freelance Journalists, the NUJ and Freelance Corner.

What are a few of your favourite pieces recently published on the site?

I know I would say this, but the quality of the writing on the site has gone beyond even my expectations. I love how diverse the content is, so I find myself reading on topics I didn’t know a thing about and really enjoying it. Rashmee Roshan Lall has written some brilliant articles, including an excellent read on Britain’s relationship with its empire. On a lighter note, Laura Gavin listed some of the weirdest theme parks in the world, including BonBon-Land in Denmark with its mascot, Henry the Farting Dog! Alexandra Ciufudean wrote a couple of compelling pieces on coronavirus – one on whether vitamin D can help treat it and another on whether it is seasonal. One of our new writers Jack Turley wrote a piece on the environmental impact of Crohn’s disease which managed to be eye-opening but also funny. 

What are the best things about working in journalism?

I think the satisfaction of putting something out into the world that you are proud of and seeing your name in print never gets old. And as an editor the sense of pride in seeing talented writers building in confidence and reaching their potential is immense and addictive. It’s a tough industry to be in, but the highs are very high even if the lows can seem pretty daunting.

Would you still recommend journalism as a career?

It’s undoubtedly a harder field than it was when I started 12 years ago. It also feels like journalism is in a state of transition (although maybe it always does) and that it has some hard questions to answer. My honest advice to someone starting out would be to try and diversify and to have as many options as you can – PR, social media, copywriting, etc. Don’t be too set on one path as it could be quite a windy road!

Read more from The Focus at and find the team tweeting @GetTheFocus.

Subscribe to the blog
Get weekly updates from the ResponseSource blog