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Focus interview with freelance journalist Justine Davies

Justine Davies is a freelance journalist and a qualified doctor. A former university lecturer, Davies is fairly new to journalism, and has worked for the BBC and The Scotsman.

This week we caught up with Davies to discuss zoology, transporting lions in Africa and why she doesn’t read blogs.

About your journalism:

What do you write about?
I write about medical treatments and medical science. I am a qualified doctor and worked for years as a university lecturer. I enjoy explaining medical issues such that they are understandable to lay people, but don’t lose any of their scientific validity.

I have just completed a zoology degree which should help me branch out into communication about environmental and conservation issues.

Where are we likely to see your work?
I was a scientific advisor to the BBC for a programme to be broadcast shortly: “10 Things You Didn’t Know About Sleep”. For this I advised on programme content and also helped write the scripts.

I have recently published an article in The Scotsman newspaper titled: “Catching some rays could make you healthier”.

What’s the most memorable work you’ve done?
I have just started out in my career as a journalist, so all of my work in this field so far is memorable.

From my previous life, working in Nablus, Palestine as an English teacher in the middle of the last Palestine-Israeli conflict was fairly memorable, as was tracking, anaesthetising and transporting lions in Africa.

What interview or feature would you love the chance to do?
I love to write anything that challenges the way people think, for example turning around commonly held beliefs that are incorrect. The only way to do this and keep people on board is by producing interesting and educational articles. I don’t mind what subject I write about as long as I believe what I write to be based on good evidence and the response that I get from the reader or viewer is “that was interesting, I had never thought of it like that before”.

About you and PRs:

Where do you source ideas for articles?
Much of my medical and zoological knowledge is from my own education. I keep up to date with these fields by reading scientific journals and looking at university press releases.

How can PRs be useful to you?
I have never had any professional dealings with PRs. I would be interested in working with PRs on promoting ideas that are important.

How and when do you like them to get in touch?
I am much more interested in hearing from PRs that are working for a benevolent organisation than for an organisation that is making a profit trying to promote ideas or produce that is unnecessary.

Do you find press conferences, trips, parties and other events useful or an interruption?
An interruption!

About you:

How would you pay the bills if you weren’t a journalist?
By being a doctor.

If we gave you £1000, how would you spend it?
Half of it would go to the Brooke Hospital for Animals – a charity that gives veterinary aid to working horses in Egypt and Pakistan, half of it would go towards a second horse of my own.

What’s the best advice anyone ever gave you?
“Have fun!”

What books are on your bedside table, magazines in your bag, or blogs on your screen?
I am reading A Year in Provence, I have just finished reading A Time Traveler’s Wife. Magazines that I read include New Scientist and BBC Wildlife Magazine. I don’t read blogs – my life is too short and too interesting as it is without reading other peoples blogs.
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