Journalists who care to make a difference – interviews with EYP alumni

“What I appreciate the most after my EYP adventure is that I was growing up in a setting that inspired me to do more and to achieve more. Every session challenged me, so I grew stronger, more confident and more courageous.” – Zosia Wanat (PL)

We had an amazing opportunity to get in touch with three EYP alumni who are currently working for different media related agencies and ask them about their current occupation and their time with EYP. Here’s what David Soler Crespo (ES), James Benge (UK) and Zosia Wanat (PL) had to say.

Can you tell us more about your current job? What is it that you do and why is it important to you? What is the social impact?

David: My job is as a Research Assistant at the research center Navarra Center for International Development. My job is both to be in charge of the communications and start my own investigations on the field of international development. For me it is very important that I have the freedom to publish news on events and papers presented at our center the way I feel like, with no one ordering me how to write. It is also very important for me as a journalist that this job has allowed me to publish at leading newspaper El País, at their development section Planeta Futuro. Furthermore, I’ve also been able to travel to South Africa and conducted interesting research on how term limits foster democratic development in Sub-Saharan Africa, which has helped me increase my knowledge on the continent.

James: Currently I’m working as a journalist at the London Evening Standard, one of the most widely-read newspapers in the United Kingdom. My focus is on sports, predominantly football and Arsenal FC in particular, bringing exclusive news, insight and analysis to readers in the capital and around the world. What the social impact of my job is is perhaps less clear but ultimately I’m able to help people understand a little bit more about sports that they truly love.

Zosia: I am a lucky one – for four years now, I have been working in my dream profession, journalism. For almost three years, I reported for the Financial Times from Warsaw, London and Paris. Currently, I am employed as a journalist at MLex in Brussels, a newswire that provides legal news to lawyers, regulators, and companies. “Regulatory news” might sound boring or very technical to some people but in fact it’s extremely important for businesses and lawmakers around Europe – and it explains how complicated European policies could impact their operations.

I cover one of the hottest beats in Brussels – Brexit. The UK’s withdrawal from the EU is an unprecedented process, there’s no legal script on how to execute it well – a rulebook must be invented from scratch. At the same time, it creates enormous uncertainty for businesses both in the UK and on the continent, which still don’t know how they will function after March 30. There is so much contradicting, or even fake, news in British and international media on possible Brexit impacts, so many emotional headlines and quotes, which really makes me believe that my job matters – delivering well-sourced, fast and clear information about what’s going on in the Brussels bubble can help companies and legislators around the continent to get through this complicated process.

How does your current job relate to your EYP experience?

David: My current job relates to my EYP experience in two ways. First of all by researching a specific topic, which previously I had not much idea about, and coming up with a paper which shows my opinion backed up with current literature and knowledge on the matter. That would relate to the academic EYP part. The second part would be on the media site, by covering events held here such as I did on my sessions as a journalist.

James: The obvious link between my job and EYP is that I first caught the journalism bug in the latter on press teams at sessions around the world. From my first few experiences of EYP newspapers I knew I wanted to be a journalist, I’m not sure I’d ever have known this was my dream job were it not for this organisation!

Zosia: During my seven years at the EYP, I was a journo only once, at the International Session in Leuven in 2009 – it’s probably hard to say that the EYP gave me a lot journalistic training. But funnily enough, I find my daily journalistic tasks similar to the committee work: they require carrying out a lot of research, conducting interviews, and listening to both sides of a debate. Many people think journalism is about flowery, artistic writing: what is much more important is the ability to transmit clear, concise ideas, the strategy of arguing, the ability to articulate causes and consequences of events, asking right questions. I learnt it all while chairing and participating in committee works.

Since Brexit touches many different policy areas: foreign affairs, institutional reform, budget, trade, taxation, financial services and many more, I cover similar topics to those that we worked on at EYP sessions. Also, it is a really nice feeling to report from the European Parliament and know all the abbreviations of different committees by heart.

In your opinion, how much, and in what way did EYP help you get where you are now?

David: I think EYP helped me achieved where I am now because I was recommended by a professor on my faculty of journalism who knew that I was interested in international relations and politics, and that was started, or at least fostered, with my experience in EYP. Furthermore, being in EYP also helped me maintain and improve my English skills, which I use in my day-to-day life, both in research and communication tasks.

James: Aside from the obvious press room experience I think the most significant skills EYP provides for people in my field are an intellectual curiosity and improved intuition when it comes to communicating. The former of those two is so important in our world, where you often have to master a topic you’re unfamiliar with and then explain it to others in a way that often feels very similar to preparing for a subject in Committee Work.

Zosia: There are some obvious links between what I do now and what the EYP gave me: the interest in the European affairs, the knowledge of the institutions and their workings, and experience in working in the international environment. All these things certainly helped me a lot to get where I am now. But they’re not something I am the most grateful for.  What I appreciate the most after my EYP adventure is that I was growing up in a setting that inspired me to do more and to achieve more. Every session challenged me, so I grew stronger, more confident and more courageous. I met people who have been proving every day that it is actually cool to care, to deliver extraordinary instead of taking an easy way out, to cherish human relations and be truly interested in another person. At the end of the day, you don’t remember what your committee said in a resolution or what you included in your speech, but you do remember those long, sometimes life-changing, night talks with impressive people and amazing adventures you had with a group of friends while travelling across the continent to attend yet another session. The EYP environment, like any other I’ve come across so far, pushed me to set myself ambitious goals and taught me that it’s important to be passionate about what I do. Journalism is an extremely competitive profession, which requires a lot of dedication and strength – I am sure that a big part of my success in this area comes with values conveyed by the EYP in my youth years.

Anything else you would like to share?

David: Journalism is a great field to work on, but I’m not in a hurry to find the perfect job. Try different things and make sure you work in a place that gives you freedom to increase your knowledge and add value to your career.

James: The only other thing I’d like to share is my intense jealousy for all those who are reading this and starting out on an EYP journey that sadly came to an end for me. It truly was the experience of a lifetime.