Freelance Journalist Focus: Jenni Sheppard

Want to know more about the hidden sexuality of the human yawn? Or, perhaps, the importance of social media in journalism? You can find the answers to these pressing questions (and more) in today’s interview with freelancer Jenni Sheppard; writer, translator and lover of learning…

About your journalism:

What do you write about?
Anything and everything. I’ve always loved learning, which helps in journalism and translation where you have to be able to turn your hand to any subject, fast. If I have pet subjects, they are definitely film and travel. I spend far too much time watching movies and planning my next adventure.

Where are we likely to see your work?
On the BBC news website and on my blog:

What’s the most memorable work you’ve done?
The work most memorable to me was at the BBC during the Chilean miner rescues when I supplied social media content to the website’s live event page.

Although editing videos of the royal wedding for the BBC news website comes pretty close too!

My work most memorable to other people was probably when I subedited a book called On Yawning: The Hidden Sexuality of the Human Yawn by Wolter Seuntjens. It was a bizarre but fascinating job!

What interview or feature would you love the chance to do?
I would love to write the first review of a tourist trip to the Moon.

About you and PRs:

Where do you source ideas for articles?
News articles and press releases are useful but often inspiration comes from simply setting the world to rights with friends. I also listen to a lot of podcasts on film, current events and technology and these always get me thinking.

How can PRs be useful to you?
By making sure that the information they send out is correct and based on rigorous research, rather than flimsy surveys. There are enough of those around already!

How and when do you like them to get in touch?
Daily emails are fine by me. Any more than that and my inbox implodes.

Do you find press conferences, trips, parties and other events useful or an interruption?
I enjoy trips and parties – they’re a great way to meet people and learn about something new. I actually find them motivational rather than an interruption.

If you could make one change to the way PRs deal with you, what would it be?
If they could tailor or prioritise their mailouts according to each journalist’s own experiences, that would be fantastic. For example, I know a lot about lacrosse, having just finished a stint as Treasurer at a local club, so press releases about lacrosse might be more relevant to me than other writers.

About you:

How would you pay the bills if you weren’t a journalist?
By being a translator – which is actually what I do half the time. I studied French, Spanish and Slovene at university and in 2004, I was the only person in the country to graduate with Slovene. I got headhunted by the EU before I even finished and eventually spent two years working as a translator in the EU institutions in Brussels. Since then it has been a very useful freelance earner!

If we gave you £1000, how would you spend it?
I’d go back to Ghana, one of my favourite places on earth. I spent a week travelling round the country alone when I lived in West Africa for a while. I fell in love with the delicious food, the untouched beaches and the amazing people and I’ve been dreaming of returning ever since I stood eating my last plantain at the border.

What books are on your bedside table, magazines in your bag, or blogs on your screen?
The second book in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, so that I can finally start watching the epic films. Right next to it is a brand new Lonely Planet Guide to Canada, where I am moving at the end of August.

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