Sophie Atherton - Freelance Journalist

I trained and qualified as a broadcast journalist at Highbury College, Portsmouth. The course was BJTC (Broadcast Journalism Training Council) accredited and equivalent to the NCTJ and NCE training undergone by print journalists, including media law and public affairs.

My plan was to work in a radio newsroom, but my first job was as a local newspaper reporter in Pembrokeshire. It was a good place to cut my teeth. Court reporting was the thing that made the greatest impression on me and sharpened my nose for a good story. I also covered county and town council meetings and my fair share of Golden Weddings, along with hard news stories such as protests about a convicted paedophile moving into a small community and a county councillor who had forged signatures on letters in support of a planning application.

I eventually did work as a broadcast journalist for Radio Pembrokeshire, where an ambition to break stories before BBC Radio Wales always spurred us on, and then as a freelancer at stations including Swansea Sound and Basingstoke's Kestrel FM. Then I went over to the 'Dark Side'.

It's not just a rumour that PR is better paid than news reporting. I couldn't afford not to make the move, but I was lucky to go to a press office where I could run my own show and an employer, the RSPB, that took its reputation seriously and regularly hired journalists to work in its press offices.

While some view a move to PR as giving up being a journalist for me it was a continuation of it, albeit in a different environment. My job was about finding and writing good stories, the same as when I was a reporter. Sometimes the stories were soft, like news about increases in bird populations or strange machinery being used to manage nature reserves and other times they were hard news, such as poisoned birds of prey or the thousands of birds oiled when the MSC Napoli ran aground.

My stint in PR also gave me the opportunity to write, or commission and edit, features. I wrote regularly for three magazines every month and occasionally for a number of others. This ticked a PR box, but also helped me expand my writing skills.

I haven't entirely left the Dark Side, as I'd be a fool not to make use of my PR experience but journalism remains the bedrock of any publicity jobs I do. You can read more about this on the PR page of the site.

Sophie Atherton - Freelance Journalist

I am an experienced journalist and broadcaster, with a background in newspapers, radio and PR. I'm available for regular or occasional writing gigs; media consultancy & training; public speaking and radio & TV expert interviews/punditry.

My specialist subjects include (but aren't restricted to), birdwatching, nature, the environment, pubs and beer.

To discuss commissions, rates and availability contact me at: or on +44 (0)7946 112025.


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