An Interview With Journalist And News Presenter, Samantha Simmonds
Samantha Simmonds was an anchor on Sky News on the morning and afternoon programmes for a decade. Now presenting for the BBC on BBC World, she continues to break some of the biggest news stories. We chatted to her to find out more!
Hi Samantha – can you introduce yourself?
I’ve been a journalist and broadcaster for 20 years now, starting my career at the BBC as a news producer and then working my way up to become a reporter and a presenter.
What are some of the most interesting and memorable stories you’ve covered?
Over the past 20 years I’ve been at the forefront of some of the most memorable events that the world has ever seen, I’ve had a ringside seat on history.
While at the BBC, I was a producer and was in the newsroom when the planes struck on 9/11. I was immediately sent to the airport to go to New York to cover those events and I was there for two weeks covering the whole story - talking to survivors, talking to people who were desperate to try to find their loved ones. I was also on air for the July 7th bombings in London as presenter and reporter for BBC London News. I interviewed some of the survivors coming out of the Edgeware Road attack which was desperately sad and worrying for the whole country.
While I was at Sky, I’ve covered some huge events as well. I’ve covered general elections, as well as Brexit Brexit - I was live in Gibraltar reporting on the first results that came in that night of the referendum.
I also covered the death of Michael Jackson – I was the first British journalist to break the news of his death which was obviously hugely shocking. I also sadly covered the deaths of Amy Winehouse, Peaches Geldoff and Heath Ledger. I was also on air when the news that MP Jo Cox had been attacked came in and I covered the breaking news when it was confirmed that she had sadly passed away which was obviously absolutely devastating and came as a real shock to the country.
I also covered some of the huge terror attacks that happened around the world including the Tunisia terror attack and the Brussels airport attack.
I’m pleased to say that I’ve covered some happier stories in my time as a journalist as well. I was on air reporting live from The Mall for the wedding of William and Kate which was fabulous – the most incredible atmosphere. I also covered The Queen’s 90th birthday live from The Mall which was pouring with rain, but we still had thousands of British people who were out there enjoying their slightly soggy sandwiches, but I guess that’s what a British summer is all about isn’t it?
I also covered the London 2012 Olympics’ opening ceremony which is a real highlight of my career.
What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced as a journalist?
Being an on-air presenter really requires a certain set of skills and people always ask me, “how can you talk when you can hear the producer or director in your ear”? I guess it really comes with experience, something I’ve been doing for a long, long time and I also really love the pressure and adrenaline of a live news environment - you never know what’s going to happen!
Each day brings a new story and you learn something new. Every day you get to meet fascinating people, not just famous people or just politicians, but ordinary people who have gone through extraordinary experiences.
I think you also need the ability to stay calm under pressure which I have learnt to do over the many years that I’ve been broadcasting. And most of all, I think you have to really love a story. You have to love finding out what’s happening in the world and be able to interpret it for the viewers in a coherent and interesting way.
How does all this experience influence you in the hosting and speaking world?
I really enjoy moderating, presenting and hosting events and conferences because it really plays on all my strengths; my ability to stay calm, my ability to (hopefully) speak well, and hold an audience to make sure that they’re interested in what’s happening; making sure that the people that you’re talking to stay engaged and interested.
Also, things can change and go wrong. I think it’s important to have the ability to cope under that live pressure and adapt to changes as and when they happen - which does occur all the time - somebody’s late, something doesn’t quite happen in the order it should, a microphone isn’t working.
Also, a really good sense of humour is key because I think if people trust and enjoy the presenter then it makes their experience far more enjoyable as well.
What's next for you?
Presenting more different programmes. I’m doing some different things on Radio 4 and also talking about doing documentaries. Journalism is at the heart of what I do, I really love that, but also exploring other opportunities. I also write about the challenges of being a busy, working parent, which I think a lot of people relate to the pressures that we’re all under.
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