Year Six were delighted to welcome Carol Harris, journalist and author, to the School. When Carol began her career computers were not used! She began as an 'office junior' - making tea, filing and typing.
To gain experience she began writing newspaper articles that no one else wanted to do. This led to her becoming a journalist on a 'news desk', where she reported on major stories from Parliament and historical events like Margaret Thatcher's last speech.
Having worked sometimes up to 60 hour weeks, Carol became an editor, which was very exciting as that meant she could choose what news stories to report. One of her most memorable campaigns was to gain access for disabled people on buses and in public places - something we take for granted today.
|Mrs Saunders and Carol Harris|
Her life changed when she had children and she became 'freelance' which, she explained, was a word from the days of knights and chivalry. A knight who was not employed by a baron or lord would be free to offer his services to anyone, carrying his trusty lance - so 'free-lance'!
Her interests in vintage fashion and history led to her publishing books on the subject. She kindly donated two signed copies of her books to Yr.6.
Then children had the chance to ask Carol some questions. They asked - who had inspired her to be a journalist? Carol explained that when she was a child male and female roles were clearly defined roles and only men were journalists. However her mother and grandma worked all their lives, so she was inspired by them to work and earn a living for herself. As she had grown up seeing them work, going to work was something she expected to do herself.
The children then asked - what makes a good journalist? Carol quoted from an inspirational Editor she worked with that said "Comment is free, facts are sacred." She then explained that accuracy is essential;, that you should always check your facts; and that you should always edit, improve and get someone to check your work. Furthermore all journalists have to work to a strict timescale and a good journalist will always meet publication deadlines!
One other memorable quote from Carol - "News is what someone somewhere does not want to be printed, all the rest is advertising."
Carol said that having a 'work-life balance' (not letting work rule your life) is important - and she enjoys gardening and volunteering at the Imperial War Museum where she talks about artefacts there. It is essential, she explained, to choose a career that interests you - as you will spend a long time working, so it might as well be something you are passionate about!
Notes: Carol Harris is a freelance journalist and lecturer, with a special interest in World War Two. She is the author of Women at War 1939-45: the Home Front, and Women at War in Uniform: 1939-45. She co-authored The Wartime House (Sutton, 2000), with Mike Brown, her husband.