Freelance Journalist Focus: Tris Reid-Smith

Bidding farewell to GT and the Pink Paper is today’s Focus interviewee Tris Reid Smith, who tells us about joining the world of freelancing…

About your journalism:

What do you write about?
I’ve done a bit of everything but I’m probably best at news, investigative features, comment and travel. I’ve been a gay editor for 10 years so there’s not much I don’t know about that.

I’m also happy to do consultancy for PRs who need expert advice on the gay market or for any editorial department who wants to improve their efficiency or update their systems etc.

Where are we likely to see your work?
My last job was as editor-in-chief of Gay Times, Pink Paper and DIVA so the next published thing of mine you’re likely to read is my farewell editor’s letter in the next issue of GT.

What’s the most memorable work you’ve done?
Just over 10 years ago (April Fool’s Day 2001) I went out to Amsterdam to report on the first legal gay weddings in the world. That really felt like an historic moment.

But aside of specific articles I’ve headed up quite a few magazine, newspaper and web relaunches, raised total audience figures and created a rolling news website. That’s been pretty cool.

What interview or feature would you love the chance to do?
I change my mind on that every day with each new idea. At the moment I want to do a feature on the area I live in – Elephant and Castle in south London. It’s being completely regenerated at the cost of £1.5billion but my neighbours, particularly the poorest, are being left out of the process. I think there’s a big story to be told about whether a regeneration can work if “real” people are ignored.

About you and PRs:

Where do you source ideas for articles?
All the usual sources, my contacts and a constant stream of emails. But my best ideas come from just paying attention to the news and the world about me.

How can PRs be useful to you?
In a perfect world they would only make relevant pitches and would have their clients’ buy-in before approaching me. But I think all journalists understand that’s not always possible. The best I can ask for is a prompt reply and for PRs to act as honest brokers, remembering they’ve got a relationship with me as well as with their client.

How and when do you like them to get in touch?
Email is fine ( and often the best way to start but I’m naturally a phone person (+44 (0)7775 872 279). I also try to tweet regularly @trisrs.

Do you find press conferences, trips, parties and other events useful or an interruption?
If they are well run they are great. I always prefer to get to know someone face-to-face.

If you could make one change to the way PRs deal with you, what would it be?
If we could all spare the time, I think all journalists should be made to do a week’s work experience as a PR and vice versa. Things would never be the same again.

About you:

How would you pay the bills if you weren’t a journalist?
I’d run away to sea.

If we gave you £1000, how would you spend it?
As it happens, I need a new laptop which is going to cost £999. I’d give you the £1 back, seeing as you’d been so generous.

What books are on your bedside table, magazines in your bag, or blogs on your screen?
I’ve been reading all the classics I’ve previously neglected; Dickens, Austen, etc. But I’m more a Catch 22 person than an Emma one. I also read a fair amount of poetry.

For mags, everything from Private Eye to National Geographic to Men’s Health. I try to keep track of the gay blogs and follow the mainstream news services via their apps.

Tris Reid-Smith tweets here.

[img|jpg|Tris Reid-Smith]

Check out our Media Jobs board for PR and Journalism vacancies Learn more