Date: 15th May 2012 at 9:33am
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Welcome to Part 4 of the Kate Walker Project.

Part 4 of this mini series dives into two areas peripheral to the sport and the job.

Both however, have a huge impact on work itself and can make life as an F1 journalist on the road easy OR hell in perpetual motion. As you have read thus far in this feature, it’s not all peaches and cream out there.

Journalism is a cut throat business, stories are difficult to come by and harder to sell given the fierce competitive nature of the beast.

I ask Kate about her co-workers who happen to be her immediate competition. Some of the answers may surprise you. The second area of questions revolves around the tools used to make it possible to get the job done, see what technology this pro uses to capture the story.

The people:

You work around difficult conditions with so many competitive journalists trying to get the same information and story. Do you have colleagues that you share information with?

‘I was surprised to discover how friendly the press room is, to be honest ? we all share information, scoops, and stories, although it?s understood that the person who found it gets to use the information first.

Who are some of your favourite people to work with?

‘Couldn?t possibly say. I respect and admire too many people in the press room to be able to list them all, and they?ve all got different skills and virtues. The thing about F1 is that you have to be good at what you do to get in ? you don?t get time-wasters. So the press room is filled with a couple of hundred talented, intelligent, and passionate people, and it?s a privilege to consider myself one of their colleagues.

Who (people or team) are the most willing to give you their time?

‘That depends on how well they?re doing at the time. When a team is winning, they?ve got loads of demands from the media, so it?s harder to get their attention. Same thing if it?s a team?s home grand prix ? they have to focus their efforts on the local media, rather than on the F1 press corps.

As we mentioned before, there are not many women in the sport, how tight are you with the other females in F1 media and do you all get along well together?

‘There?s not really a male v female split in F1. I mean, there aren?t many women, and so we do look out for each other, but everyone in the press room looks after everyone else. Away from the press room I hang out with a mostly male group, but that?s not because I don?t get on with the women. The BBC crew stay in hotels together and tend to hang out together, the Sky lot do the same. Fleet Street journos make up one group, and the freelancers make up another. So we split down employment lines, not gender lines. That being said, the women I know in F1 are absolutely lovely. In UK media, both Jennie Gow and Natalie Pinkham are great to chat to. I?ve not met Georgie Thompson yet, as the broadcast journalists are kept in a separate part of the paddock from the print and radio types.

Do you work with any photographers at all to uncover stories? How does it work if you need photos to use for your articles? Permissions, royalties?

‘I tend not to use photos for my pieces, mainly because I can?t afford to.

The technology

Would you consider yourself a techie/geek? Do you embrace technology or still use the trusted notepad and pen approach?

‘Total geek. Always have been, always will be. But that doesn?t mean I ignore paper and pen ? I always have a notebook on me, and use it to make notes of time-cues in recordings that I might want to transcribe for a piece.

What sort of technology do you like to use most? Laptop? iPad? Digital Voice recorder? etc..

‘I?ve got an HTC Sensation that I love like it?s my baby. I use it for photos, social media, and as a Dictaphone. Then I?ve got my big laptop (an old Toshiba that will need to be replaced pretty soon) and a Linux netbook. I don?t take both computers to races ? the big laptop comes on flyaways when I can take a carry-on bag on the plane in addition to my suitcase, while the netbook is for European races when all of my stuff has to get squeezed into the carry-on. I will *not* pay to take a suitcase on a budget airline. I refuse to use Apple products; I?m passionate about open-source technology and hate the way they operate as a company.

Author: Ernie Black



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