JOE meets one of the Sky News Irish contingent, Tadhg Enright
Tadhg Enright is an Irish face at the forefront of UK news behemoth Sky News. JOE caught up with him to chat about journalism, petrol prices, weather-girls and why he doesn’t have heroes.
JOE: We see you so frequently on Sky News Tadhg, where are you from in Ireland and how did you get into journalism andultimately Sky News?
Tadhg Enright: I'm from Castleknock in Dublin and moved over to Sky in London a year and a half ago. I went down the university route to get into journalism and got a place on the degree course at DCU. You'll find plenty of people though who either learn by getting stuck into the industry at an early age or study something else at undergraduate level and do a masters in journalism. I did a bit of both and got a part time job in radio - first with East Coast FM and later with INN - while carrying on with my course. That hands-on experience helped me get a work placement with Sky News Ireland at the end of my degree course and there I began my Sky career. I left for a couple of years to work for RTE but the bright lights of London called me back in September 2010 just in time to report on the Irish bailout.
JOE: Tell us about your typical working day.
TE: Most days I work from our main news centre which is in a place called Osterley on the road from central London to Heathrow Airport. We also have offices in Westminster and The City from which I sometimes present hourly business updates. I'll have read the papers at home already and I'll listen to the radio on the way in to get an idea of what I'll be working on. There’s no such thing as a "typical" day. Sometimes you could be working on the lead story, doing live updates every hour and preparing a news report for the main news at 5pm. Sometimes there could be far more interesting stories than yours on the boil so you won't get a look in but you might be asked to write something for the website. Sometimes you have to react at a moment's notice to breaking news. Some days it's a mixture of all those things. It's a classic case of expect the unexpected.
JOE: Is there specific training required for live presenting?
TE: I'm sure there is coaching available but I never got any. I just learned it through experience.
JOE: Are there any tricks of the trade i.e. code words when something goes wrong on live TV?
TE: The only code I can think of is "blue filter". That's what I say to camera operators if we're out filming and some weirdo comes up to us and insists they get interviewed. I say "Let's put a blue filter on this one" and that means "point the camera at this man while I ask two questions but don't bother recording". Sometimes the camera operator isn't aware of the code and then that creates a whole other layer of confusion!
JOE: How do you source stories and have they to pass certain criteria to be featured on bulletins?
TE: Stories come into us a variety of ways through our own sources, newswires, regulatory announcements to the stock exchange, press releases, and simply scouring the newspapers to see what they've done. The major criteria are if they're reliable, accurate and, crucially, interesting.
JOE: What advice would you give someone considering a career in Journalism?
TE: Get involved as early as you can. You'll learn about the basic skills and technology on a journalism course but there's no substitute for the real life work experience so get out there and start writing and reporting when you have time off. Just like medical school doesn't really prepare you for life in the emergency department, nor does the sanitised environment of academia prepare you for a busy newsroom. And be warned that you might have to start out working for nothing; I did and most journalists do. It's a popular profession so classic economic rules apply: when there's an oversupply of eager candidates it's an employers' market.
JOE: Is there any light at the end of the tunnel for the newspapers industry?
TE: I'm always sceptical when people talk about a new medium killing off another. Video didn't kill the radio store, but it did change the way we consume radio. So it's a case of innovate or die. Big newspaper organisations should be able to survive by using the strength of their brands and the trust of their readers to win them over on the internet too. But if you think you can stick your head in the sand and not develop smartphone and tablet computer apps, you're kidding yourself.
JOE: With more and more people reading on the go are the youth of today going to lack personality skills?
TE: I think I can include myself in that category even if I can hardly be described as "youth". These days I struggle to put my laptop or smartphone down to focus on the good old fashioned TV. But the last time I visited Mum and Dad there were times where we were all playing with our iPhones and not actually talking to each other. I don't like the overuse of txtspk but have been known to send the odd "C u l8r" message. I tend to text instead of phoning unless there's something I really couldn't be arsed tapping out into a miniscule keyboard. But I realise it's all too easy to get consumed by Facebook, Twitter and online chatting. If I've figured that out, I'm sure others will learn to make the time for real life "Facetime" too.
JOE: You cover a lot of business stuff and we’ve heard you talking about oil prices. That affects us at the pumps - how high do you see fuel prices going here in Ireland?
TE: People always ask me what's going to happen to oil prices this year or where will the markets be a year from now. You might as well ask me what lottery numbers are going to come out of the drum on Saturday night. If I knew such things for sure, I'd be a very wealthy man. The big threat on the oil-front this year comes from Iran and the rising tensions over its nuclear programme. If Iran starts blocking a key route for oil tankers near its coastline - the Strait of Hormuz - then we're in trouble with fuel prices because it will difficult to get supplies to their markets. The scary thing is that oil prices are already so high, in an historical context, even though most western economies are in a very fragile state. We can only guess what will happen if/when economic growth really gets going again.
JOE: We’re going to ask you to gaze into that crystal ball again. What about electric cars? Do you see a big future for them?
TE: I think there's a strong political will behind making them work. Even the Americans are waking up to the fact that we can't rely on oil to the extent we have any more. Now that many of the big manufacturers including Toyota and Renault-Nissan are making or planning wholly electric cars I reckon we're looking at an electric future. But it will take a generation before the battery technology is advanced enough or there are enough charging points around the country to convince you to drive from Malin to Mizen Head, or Dublin to Limerick for that matter.
JOE: Now that’s the taxing ones out of the way, how about a few for the craic? Who was your childhood hero?
TE: I'm not sure I really had any nor do I have many right now. Nelson Mandela was quite the inspiration but I was never really much into heroes so don't ask me to do a round of Mastermind on him.
JOE: What’s your greatest extravagance?
TE: That bloody Dublin apartment I bought in 2007 which is now worth half what I paid for it. Although I know there are others whose property problems are far greater than mine.
JOE: Do you have a favourite journey?
TE: My backpacking days around Australia and Southeast Asia were a lot of fun. Driving along the coast road to Howth is very nice too. I like a long bus or train journey when you can just gaze out the window and drift off to sleep. Flying is a pain though.
JOE: And your favourite weather girl!?
TE: Of course, I have to say Sky's Nazaneen Ghaffar and Isobel Lang but RTÉ's Jean Byrne has opened my eyes to a world of pressure systems and black leather.
JOE: Where and when are you happiest?
TE: Around a dinner table in the company of family and friends.
JOE: Which talent would you most like to have?
TE: More self discipline. I'd be thinner and fitter.
JOE: Most treasured possession?
TE: I'd be lying if I said I had one. I'm not really into possessions.
JOE: And your all-time favourite film?
TE: I struggle to name "favourites" of anything but I can say my favourite genre are American Indie films and those that spring to mind are Roman Polanski's recent release "Carnage", Noah Baumbach's "The Squid and the Whale" and Nancy Oliver's "Lars and the Real Girl".
JOE: What about TV shows?
TE: These days, it’s "Mad Men", "30 Rock" and "Republic of Telly".
JOE: We'll leave it at that, Tadhg. Thanks for stopping to chat.
TE: No problem.