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Jennifer Sprinks: freelance journalist focus

Jennifer Sprinks is a freelance journalist specialising in the public sector, and her work has appeared in Regeneration & Renewal, Nursing Standard and Planning.

This week, FeaturesExec spoke to Jennifer about her work, the best advice she’s ever been given and what she’s reading at the moment.

About your journalism:

What do you write about?
I specialise in public sector issues ranging from sustainability to health.

Where are we likely to see your work?
Public sector magazines such as Regeneration & Renewal, Nursing Standard and Planning.

What’s the most memorable work you’ve done?
Chasing Lord Kinnock down the street after a conference to get a snappy quote. I don’t think the BBC were too impressed that I intercepted their interview with him though! I also vividly remember ending up in the wrong house when I went to interview a couple of refugees from Thailand about the Sheffield resettlement programme. An interpreter was meant to be there with them awaiting my arrival so I thought it was odd when I turned up to find just a lady and her daughter (from Thailand) to greet me, especially as I was expecting a family with two sons. But the lady and the daughter seemed to be expecting my arrival and welcomed me in without hesitation. The photographer and I were offered drinks and we made ourselves comfortable. They spoke no English. After a 10 minute frenzy of gesticulating, it transpired that they thought I was their English language teacher and that we were about to conduct a lesson. Not sure why they weren’t surprised when the photographer starting setting up his equipment.

What interview or feature would you love the chance to do?
I like ‘on the ground’ features where I get to interact with real people. I’d like to interview people in some of the London boroughs about how their lives may or may not have changed since Polish workers have been returning to Poland. I like features that challenge myths and perceptions.

About you and PRs:

If you could make one change to the way PRs deal with you, what would it be?
For them to only ring me once to see if I’ve got a press release!

About you:

How would you pay the bills if you weren’t a journalist?
I’ve only ever really wanted to be a journalist/writer. If I wasn’t a print journalist, I’d be a news reader or TV presenter. Saying that, I grew up wanting to be either a Blue Peter presenter or a dancer for West End musicals but I’m not sure I’d get paid for my efforts!

If we gave you £1,000, how would you spend it?
I’d invest in a really good website and would buy a good design package so that I could do more sub-editing from home.

What’s the best advice anyone ever gave you?
A journalist does not have to be an expert and know everything about a subject. It is always much better to speak up and tell an interviewee you don’t understand something and get them to explain it more clearly. Otherwise interviewees assume they can skim over certain things and it won’t come across clearly in the article. Never be afraid to admit you don’t know about something or don’t understand it first time round!

What books are on your bedside table, magazines in your bag, or blogs on your screen?
I’m currently reading What is the What by Dave Eggers – a story about a boy who is forced out of his Sudanese village because of conflict. In my bag is The Guardian, the Local Government Chronicle and a copy of Glamour magazine; a real mix!
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