by James Fountain
Since graduating three years ago, Ilkley-born Elizabeth Archer, 25, has enjoyed a rapid rise in the media world.
Currently a features writer at The Daily Express, she took time out of her busy schedule to speak to students at the university where she gained an MA in Journalism with Distinction in 2015.
Archer gave her audience examples of articles which have made her name – including interviews with Andy Murray’s mother, and entrepreneur and Dragons’ Den TV star Deborah Meaden.
She stressed that the advantage of feature writing over news was that you had more time to get to know your subject.
Her interview with Meaden was particularly interesting since she was able to uncover the true person behind the myth that had built up around her, partly due to the persona she adopted on Dragons’ Den.
On the subject of how she gained a foothold in the industry so quickly, Archer told Yorkshire Voice: “Breaking through was largely to do with knowing what I wanted – features not news.
“I started by working for a story-selling agency and I found my own stories – I couldn’t rely on PR so I had to find the stories myself, something I really enjoyed.”
Archer emphasised: “Determination is the key to success in this industry, I built up a large range of contacts which really enabled me to push my career forward.”
She feels that if there is a downside to her job, it is the unsociable hours: “If you want a 9 to 5, you won’t find that in journalism – you will sometimes be getting out of bed in the middle of the night to get stories.”
Archer feels this is more than counterbalanced by the fact that she often comes home with an exciting story to tell, something not all careers enable.
She told Yorkshire Voice that, added to these unusual working hours, her job isn’t necessarily lucrative in comparison to other careers that her friends have – but to her the key thing is that she has job satisfaction.
The major advantage to writing print features, she feels, is that you only work on one story per day where online journalists can be asked to produce up to five separate stories per day, and writing features gives her more time to be creative.
Her advice to trainee journalists is that they should not underestimate the value of their skills.
She said: “Lots of websites offer budding journalists the opportunity to write in exchange for exposure.
“While experience is valuable there’s a fine line between that and being taken advantage of.”
Archer plans to stay on at the Daily Express for the foreseeable future, with a view to possibly becoming an editor one day.