Journalist Tom Rowley visits The Bark!

Friday 14 January 2022

by Noah, Ella and Marwan

Back in late November, The Bark had a wonderful opportunity to meet with a vastly experienced journalist, Tom Rowley! Currently writing for The Economist, Tom gave a brief presentation, including a few comedic anecdotes from his time on St Helena - an island with only 4000 inhabitants - including details from his incredibly successful career.

He started by talking about his days as a junior journalist. Articles he got tasked with writing up were often trivial, if not slightly comical, and stories ranged from spider breakouts to ice-cream stealing seagull fiascos. Later in Tom's career, he moved on to more serious articles on famine, the Syrian refugee crisis, and the 2016 American election between Clinton and Trump. Through it all, Tom expressed that there were two main loves that motivated him: writing and people. He told us that since an early age “[he] always liked people and had been interested in what makes each of us different.”

After his mesmerizing speech, the floor then opened to questions, in which students displayed all their journalistic curiosity. In his answers, frequently occurring themes included his successful career journey and the contrasting atmospheres of different newsrooms. Tom detailed his path from starting off at his humble school paper (not too dissimilar from The Bark!), and later his university paper, before five years at The Economist which later involved moving on to be a foreign correspondent.

Tom talked about the ambience of the different places he has worked – delineating the ‘hectic’ and ‘fast paced’ feel of the Daily Telegraph, especially approaching the 5pm deadline, and the different pressures of the following job where – despite the “much more relaxed feel” of the longer articles – there was still the different pressure of “[having] to produce something pretty good.”

He also gave lots of great advice, assuring his audience that there are a plethora of ways to pursue and start a career in journalism: ‘People always want to know what's happening and people always want people who will help them and be their guide through the world’.

Aspirational journalist Marwan (Year 13) reviewed what he felt when discussing a path into writing with Tom: "His knowledge was fantastic. I got educational answers from an experienced man." When asking for some interview tips, Tom divulged to Marwan: ‘You know it’s a good interview when it seems more like a conversation.’

When asked about his ideal topic for writing, Tom said, ‘I would love to go and follow a refugee...and actually accompany them for the whole journey to their new home’. This truly reflects his love for following people and their unique journeys and was a fitting conclusion to our conversation. We feel very privileged to have had such an experienced and successful journalist share so much with us. Thank you, Tom!