Sam Langford is a Junkee reporter for news & politics. She was previously an editor of Honi Soit, the University of Sydney’s student newspaper. Follow her on Twitter at @_slangers.
When did you first decide to be a journalist and why?
I fell into journalism by accident when I got involved in the University of Sydney’s student newspaper, Honi Soit, while I was studying. Honi has always covered student news and politics very closely, and contributing to the paper was a great opportunity to gain practical experience reporting on a specific beat. I eventually became an editor of the paper and got to try my hand at a little bit of everything — from news reporting to feature writing, editing, and graphic design for print and web. I loved all of it, and I’ve been hooked ever since.
What story has been your favourite to work on so far this year?
In February I wrote a story investigating a food and beverage business, which customers claim owes them hundreds of dollars in refunds for products that never arrived. This was actually the second investigation I’ve published concerning this particular company— in November, I wrote about young workers’ allegations that the company owed them thousands in unpaid wages and superannuation. These investigations have been really satisfying stories to work on, because I’ve been able to break new ground and uncover previously unreported information, while also helping the young people involved understand what was happening to them. Given that Junkee is a youth-focused website, it’s been great to report on the issue of workplace exploitation as it affects young people.
How would you describe your audience and how do you make news and politics interesting for that demographic?
Junkee is aimed at a youth audience (broadly speaking, 18 to 35-year-olds), so we try to focus on covering news and politics stories that impact the lives of young people. I have a real interest in covering workplace rights, environment and LGBTIQ issues, and over time I’ve found ways to make each beat appeal to our audience. In particular, giving young people a voice is key — our readers love a story that actually asks young people about their experience at work, or their thoughts on the climate crisis and what we can do about it.
What mistakes do you see other media making when targeting this demographic?
There’s no need to talk down to young people — we’re smarter than you think.
What makes a press release stand out from others in your inbox?
Good timing. Too often I receive embargoed press releases that arrive too close to the embargo time for me to actually cover the story. Obviously, news happens fast, but in a small team like Junkee’s, we’re not always able to drop everything for a press release that arrives at 5pm.