Meet the media

Evan Short is a journalist with the Belfast Media Group’s North Belfast News and Ireland Correspondent for the New York-based Irish Echo. His previous roles include five years spent working in the Irish Republic both in local newspapers and freelancing.

How did you get into journalism?

I always wanted to be a journalist but it took me a while to get there. I had a variety of jobs before signing up to do the NVQ in Belfast Met which got me my start with the Belfast Media Group where my first job was editing the property and motoring supplement. From there I progressed to writing features for the South Belfast News before moving to the North Belfast News and then Andersonstown News as a news journalist.

What is your typical working day?

First thing is checking my emails and then I hit the phones to chase up leads or find out what’s going on. It’s a journalistic cliché but no two days are the same in this job. Meeting people is a very important part of the role and you are always heading out of the office for appointments or trying to set them up. At least once a week you find you have to spend an evening at a council or community meeting. I also try to get down to the courts to cover cases.

We are a small team with a lot of areas to cover so while I might be chasing up a news story for the front page, I also have my eye out for an interesting feature or a light hearted piece that may suit the following week’s edition. I am also always on the look out for something that might interest the Irish diaspora in America so it’s non stop.

Who would you identify as your role models in the industry and why?

John Ferris and Seán Mag Uidhir, former editors of the North Belfast News, knocked my rough edges off as a cub reporter and gave me a great grounding in the industry. My current Group Editor Robin Livingstone is someone whose judgment I rely on and I hold Ciaran Barnes and Damian McCarney, both former colleagues, in very high esteem as journalists.

What is it about journalism that you enjoy?

You are given the opportunity to help people in practical ways. We do a lot of housing stories in the North Belfast News and when you are able to make a real difference to someone who may have tried every other avenue, it gives you a great feeling.

Also, in the space of an hour you might go from writing about a local issue to being on the phone to someone in the United States. You get to meet some of the most remarkable people. There’s no doubt the job is stressful and you can attract some negative energy but the positives far outweigh the negatives.

What would you describe as your most notable story or project?

Most recently recording the MP Alasdair McDonnell saying the DUP ‘don’t want a taig about the place’ at the launch of a new SDLP office attracted a lot of coverage.

Over the years I have landed a number of stories I am proud of, like landing the only ever interview with Workers Party grandee Sean Garland regarding the US government’s attempts to extradite him to answer accusations that he masterminded a fake dollar scheme with the government of North Korea that threatened to undermine the United States economy.

How is journalism embracing the digital revolution?

We are only now starting to see an idea of what is attracting people online but no one seems to have mastered how to get the public to pay for it. I suspect successful model will emerge in coming years but it may be too late for some newspapers.

What advice would you give anyone starting out in the profession?

Get out of the office and meet people. With decreasing budgets fewer journalists are doing more work and it’s easy to get stuck at your desk but getting out and making yourself known will pay dividends.

What are your main interests outside of work?

I am a semi-regular visitor to Solitude to watch Cliftonville and enjoy following soccer. My summer holidays were spent in Paris following the Irish football team, just one of a number of times I have travelled to see the boys in green.

Boxing is another great interest of mine which stems from when I helped out at Glengormley Amateur Boxing Club as a coach. Career demands meant I had to give that up but I thoroughly enjoyed my time there working with young people.

I am a bit of a current affairs nut and like to read about what’s going on in the world. I am one of the few people who subscribe to a number of newspapers which compels me to read more. I have a degree in history and have never really lost my love of the subject so I enjoy visiting museums and places of historical interest.

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