Women in Journalism: Carol Ross Joynt

Carol Ross Joynt

Carol Ross Joynt

Carol Ross Joynt is a Washington D.C. based writer, interviewer, broadcaster, photographer and public speaker. I am an avid reader of Carol’s great blog, ‘Swimming in Quicksand,’ and regularly read her contributions to Washingtonian magazine (where she is Editor-at-Large,) and the New York Social Diary.

As a writer and a journalist, Carol’s career is one that inspires me. Carol worked with the esteemed Helen Thomas during her time at United Press International, covered antiwar stories in the 1970s and worked for Time magazine reporting about politics. She was a writer on the CBS Evening News, working with Walter Cronkite, and it was here that the efforts of her and her colleagues were commended with Emmys, the DuPont and Peabody awards for the program’s outstanding coverage of Watergate and Vietnam. Carol has also worked in producer roles at NBC, The Charlie Rose Show, Nightline, Larry King Live and Hardball with Chris Matthews. Carol also directed documentary films, notably for the National Gallery of Art.

In 2011, Carol released her memoir titled ‘Innocent Spouse.’ The book chronicles her life following the death of her husband in 1997, and her subsequent fight with the IRS to gain innocent spouse status due to tax fraud by her late husband. Carol inherited the landmark Georgetown restaurant, Nathans, and it was here that she created the fantastic Q&A Café. Nathans closed in 2009, and the Q&A Café is now held at The George Town Club. Carol regularly interviews a range of fascinating individuals on all topics, and you can watch some of the recordings here.

Innocent Spouse is truly one of the most fascinating memoirs that I’ve read, and Carol’s personal journey of survival inspires the reader to stay strong and make the most of every moment.

Carol has been generous to give a signed copy of Innocent Spouse to one lucky reader- further details on how to enter can be found following our exclusive Q&A. 

 

Tell us about your journey to where you are today. 

I was always the girl in the pioneer movies who had to make it to the other side of the river, no matter what. Failure wasn’t an option. I’m a driven person. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because my beginnings were humble, but we had a TV, and I looked at the world through that screen and thought, “I want to be part of what’s out there in the biggest possible way.”

There have been many successes, especially early, as I began my career at age 18, and with no college education, only determination. At 22, when I started writing The CBS Evening News for Walter Cronkite, overnight I was earning more money than my father. That was odd. My son, now 22, could lap me. What goes round, right?

Even with early success there were major hurdles, even roadblocks, but I viewed them as that river and that I had to get to the other side. Again and again, I’m bolstered by my family and friends. I do it for me, but also the people who matter to me.

How has your life experience made you the individual you are today?

I’m as comfortable in my skin as I can be, but I’m still a work in progress and hope to always be. I know myself. I like the woman I see in the mirror. I’m open to the world and I love to adapt to change, to be as modern as possible. Just like everyone I can get low. I allow myself a pity party every now and then, but it has to be brief. Like a minute. Self-pity accomplishes nothing. Find the solution. Get through it. If you need help, ask for it. If help is offered, take it.

What have you learned from these highlights and challenges?

To go forward, always, to not live in the past. Mooning over what’s been and gone can be a kind of heartbreak. Take from it what makes you stronger and move on.

Why did you feel compelled to write Innocent Spouse and how has it helped you personally?

It was in my DNA to share that story. If it could happen to me, it could happen to others. If I could get through it, others could, too. Writing it enabled me to purge a lot of the baggage of the 12-year saga. I’m a natural born storyteller, and that was my story to tell.

How has your book helped other women who have experienced similar situations to yourself?

I hope it has helped. I see it as a story of survival against the odds, being thrown into chaos with no guidebook.  How many middle-aged female television producers suddenly become owner of a full-blown saloon on the busiest corner in town? In every way I had to keep calm and carry on, though on the inside I was confused, lost, vulnerable, scared. You name the anxiety and I felt it. All that mattered to me every day was not going down with the Titanic, which is how I viewed Nathans (fun on the upper decks, misery down below, and sinking).

You have your own blog that chronicles your life in Washington D.C. What do you enjoy best about being a blogger?

It’s mine, good or bad. It reaches people all over the world. It’s my ability to communicate directly with an audience, however large or small. A faithful reader who is a screenwriter sent me a review of my writing that I put on my website because it made me proud. I call him “Hollywood Bob,” because I can’t use his real name. It says- Carol Joynt has “a perfect eye, an infallible ear and the unequaled gift of rearranging the alphabet into words which both entertain and mean f**cking something.”

You’re also the brains and host of the Q&A Café series. What have you enjoyed most about doing the series and how do you see it evolving in the future?

I love those 45 minutes of looking into the eyes of an interesting person and asking them questions I’d never get to ask them in any other setting. I have no idea where it will go. I’m thrilled every time I book a new interview, walk into the room, see the crew and the audience.

Do you have any other exciting projects in the pipeline?

Since I’m a sailor, finding my wind.

How do you maintain a work/life balance?

All I do is work. Beyond that, I cherish any time with family and friends.

How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?

I had some wonderful mentors in my early years. They were men, because those were the times. They’ve passed on, but the lessons remain. I have never had a woman mentor, oddly.

Which other female leaders do you admire and why?

I’ve come to admire HIllary Clinton. I warmed to her during her performance as Secretary of State and her relationship with President Obama, who I like a lot. That said I’m not sure she can win the White House, unless the economy improves substantially in the next year. People are hurting and voters will blame the Democrats.

I admire women who are themselves and don’t succumb to the pressure to fit into molds. It’s tougher that way, I know. It breaks my heart to see what some women do to their faces and their bodies in this era to live up to a ridiculous standard of artificial beauty created mostly by people selling products. I admire the women who resist.

Also, spare me women who hold their skyrocketing success over the heads of others, bragging. Often their opportunity is due to means and education and connections, but they soft sell that part and act like it’s that easy for everyone, when it’s not. Their message is: “I’m awesome. Buy my book and you can be awesome, too.” Yeah, right. It’s the quiet, steady and humble success stories that impress me more.

Which words sum up where you have got to today?

Don’t look down.

Innocent Spouse

Innocent Spouse

Fancy winning a signed copy of Carol’s gripping memoir, Innocent Spouse? Send an email with the title ‘Innocent Spouse’ to laura@womenin.org.uk by midnight EST on May 20th 2014. One winner will be drawn at random- and this giveaway is open worldwide. 

Women in Journalism: Kerry Hopkins, Broadcast Ready

Kerry Hopkins

Kerry Hopkins

Kerry Hopkins is the Editor of Broadcast Ready, a one-stop database for journalists to find spokespersons that are good for TV and radio news. Kerry has sixteen years media experience split between ten years corporate communications and public relations and as an Assistant News Editor at ITN’s ITV News, where she also carried out field producing, Newsnet Editor, Planning and overnight News Editor roles. She also worked as a Broadcast Journalist for the BBC News Channel. Kerry Hopkins is an experienced media trainer at C-suite level with FTSE 250 companies and continues to broadcast media train and coach at Broadcast Ready.

Kerry was the Head of Broadcast and Digital at Newgate Communications and also worked in corporate communications at The Walt Disney Company. In PR agencies, her accounts have included Microsoft, Samsung, JP Morgan Asset Management, Investec, Schroders, Cisco, GlaxoSmithKline, adidas, Technogym, Isokinetic Medical Group and the Trading Standards Institute.

Tell us about how your journey to where you are today.

I have a background in PR/corporate communications and TV newsroom journalism. I completed a postgraduate diploma in TV Journalism at City University London in 2006, and whilst on the course I got a job at ITN’s ITV News because the field producer said she was so impressed with me on a shoot we did in Essex that day. When you’re offered a paid role after a day’s work experience at the broadcaster of your dreams you don’t say no!

I’ve also worked at BBC TV News writing the news, and I also headed the broadcast media for Samsung at the London Olympics. The timing of when I left doing that role was perfect as I had a deadline of four months to upgrade my PG Dip to a Masters in TV Journalism. I wrote my dissertation on why aren’t there as many female comedians on TV as there are male comedians.

My dissertation found that producers tend to pick the same women for comedy panel shows, for example Dawn French, Jennifer Saunders, Miranda Hart, Jo Brand and Sarah Millican. Many of these women have their own sitcoms or television programmes, and do not necessarily want to appear on panel shows which are often seen as the stepping stone to a comedian’s own show. Because the pool of female comedians stands at about 20%, there aren’t as many individuals to choose from too.

I suggested that they develop a strategy such as hiring producers specifically and solely tasked to recruit more female comedians from the circuit. The producer would also plant ideas into female college and university students that a career in comedy is a good one that they could consider. It’s hard for people to aspire to be like someone if they’re not seeing many role models on TV. There was only one comedy TV show at the time that did that. As part of my research I interviewed the commissioners of comedy at the BBC, series producers from the BBC, ITV and Channel 4, psychologists, the managing director of the UK’s largest independent production company for comedy and comedians including Ian Hislop and Zoe Lyons. I put them on the spot and at the same time factual articles on the same subject were published in The Independent and The Guardian, which put pressure on the commissioners to do something about it to stop the negative press their shows were receiving. Two months after I submitted my work, the BBC publicly admitted that they had failed female comedians and were going to do more to rectify the situation.

Lis Howell, Director of Broadcasting at City University London shared my views on why there aren’t enough expert women on the news, and used some of my ideas to raise awareness and make a difference with her and Broadcast magazines Expert Women campaign, launched in February 2012. There is still alot more to be achieved, and people think that because it’s being talked about a lot that change is happening and we’re there. We’re not. The numbers of expert women on the news has marginally increased but is still woefully low and this will take many years to reach an acceptable number to give women a voice. It’s more complex than producers aren’t giving women a chance, they are in many cases, it’s that women often let their male colleagues go on the news instead or the company doesn’t ask women to be spokespeople as much. And of course, the fact that there aren’t many expert women on the news so that other woman can be inspired and think: “I’d like to do that too, I can do that, I will do that!” The Expert Women campaign calls on broadcasters to put 30% of women on the news as experts. This campaign for change needs to be sustained over a long period of time or it’ll just be hype and will have minimal improvement. With the voices of females who make up half the population getting louder and louder though on this, change will happen eventually as it can not be ignored.

It’s a combination of my work as a TV journalist, a corporate communications professional and the in-depth research I did on female comedians on TV that has opened the door that I built and created myself for the work I am doing now with Broadcast Ready. I left my previous job as Head of Broadcast and Digital to establish Broadcast Ready, and I am determined for it to succeed.

How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?

I was the natural leader of my group when I was in at school. My father also had his own company employing 60 people so I was brought up learning from him every day. I think good leaders are learning themselves though through their experiences on a daily basis how to be even better leaders.

How have you learned from your challenges and successes?

I’ve learned every time I fail not to repeat it! Or certainly not more than twice. I also like to push things further so I’ve found that I deliver bigger results than other people in the same team. For example, when I was working at one broadcast media agency I tried to get a spokesperson on TV for a story – in one week I got them 33 television and radio interviews, when others in the team were not getting anywhere near as much. I’ve always had this knack since my very first job!

The experience I’ve gained on both sides of the fence in corporate communications and journalism has given me a 360 degree viewpoint so I’m conscious of passing on what I’ve learned onto other members of the team, which at did at that agency and meant the whole team then went on to have a better overall success rate. This gives me a great feeling to help other people and I know they’ve appreciated it as it’s made their lives easier and the business has benefitted. I have greatly appreciated people passing their knowledge and experience onto me to help me. Now I’m at an age where I have to pass on what I know and I feel it’s my duty.

Tell us more about Broadcast Ready.

Broadcast Ready is a one-stop database for journalists to find spokespersons that are good for TV and radio news. Our site uses key words to help users find the expert they’re looking for. Journalists see a video of the expert, their biography and contact details and know that because they’re on our database that the expert will be of good quality. We also provide a proactive service too and both email and telephone journalists directly about our experts.

Journalists find the experts on the database themselves and call them up, and journalists are also told directly by us about experts too. This combinational approach is really working incredibly well in delivering successful on-air results for our experts. All broadcasters have signed up to using it and also many journalists. I’m looking for experts in every field, and particularly want to have women as well as men from the areas of security, intelligence, counter-terrorism, banking, finance, the City, business and aviation and other areas too.

In the third month that Broadcast Ready was live, we were personally invited by UNESCO into their global alliance of 500 organisations including broadcasters to support their Women Make the News initiative.

We have tickets left for our “How to create the best possible chance of getting your spokespeople on TV and radio news as experts” workshop on the morning of Wednesday 7th May. It’s for PR’s, corporate communications professionals, marketers and experts. We’ll be sharing some statistics and inside information that’s never been revealed to a group of this mix of people before and will greatly benefit them getting their spokespeople on air. Anyone attending whom later signs up to the Broadcast Ready database in 2014 will get a full refund on the ticket price, which is still a low price and great value.

We have multi-billion dollar brands on the database, Conservative and Labour party politicians, SME’s, university professors as well as individual experts on the database.

What have your highlights and challenges been during your tenure at Broadcast Ready?

One of the biggest challenges was setting up the company and online video database! Project managing getting the database correct from a technical standpoint where users can find an expert in 3 seconds flat as well as ensuing the design of the user interface was pleasant, took longer than I expected but was vital to get it right.

In terms of highlights, it’s the backing the concept and company has received from editors at ITN, the BBC and Sky. We’re featured on ITN’s intranet. We know many of the journalists we deal with anyway from having worked there ourselves but we did the rounds and met several editors to ascertain and confirm what they needed and we have an on-going supportive relationship with them and their team to deliver what they need.

A major highlight was that it was fantastic to see loads of individuals and firms applying to the database on our launch day. I wasn’t expecting that many applications to come flooding in all at one time as we strategically and deliberately only did a trade media launch and twitter launch! We were inundated with applications through the website’s application page and by telephone and email. The range of applications came from companies with hundreds of thousands of employees to individual experts. I invented Broadcast Ready in response to societal, broadcast journalism and company PR division demand, and getting all those applications was the physical evidence that it was the right thing to have done. It’s very exciting to be part of it all.

How do you hope that Broadcast Ready will make a difference?

I want Broadcast Ready to encourage organisations to put women forward as their company spokespeople, as well as men. And then for us to actually performance train those that need it and provide the portal and service to get them on air to deliver results

How do you maintain a work/life balance?

Since establishing Broadcast Ready in August 2013, I’ve not been great at maintaining a work/life balance and have only just started to get into one. For six months I worked solidly seven days a week more or less. I had entrepreneur’s burnout! There’s nothing to regret as that’s what was needed at the time and was very addictive because I love the work but that level of work can not be maintained at the top level in the long term so now I ensure that I take time off, so that I can have a life too which will keep Broadcast Ready going in the long term. It also took time to recruit a team too and that means that it is managed well now and strong.

What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace?

Anecdotal evidence from speaking to bosses has shown me that women aren’t as forthcoming as men – many women don’t ask for a pay raise or a promotion at all, and if they do many often do it using emotion rather than logic and this isn’t the same successful approach that men use. Even though women produce amazing results, they don’t, on average, ask for things they want or need like men do, as men on average feel more self worth and entitlement to get promoted and move closer towards earning what they believe they’re worth. I think it also depends who the boss is. I’ve seen examples of a leader who is female and then the next layer down of employees are all male.

There are of course also the challenges surrounding women who want to have families. Women shouldn’t fear that their career will go downhill in deciding whether to have a baby or not as the right employer will support them when they return. I’ve heard that some women are even better bosses once they’ve had children. I remember working at one firm and they even promoted her whilst she was on maternity leave and so she came back to a more senior position, how amazing is that? Another big firm had a crèche on its premises to offer employees with young children and babies.

How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?

It’s a gift to be able to call on people for advice and I have always found nearly all men willing to help and the majority of women. I always try to give something back for the advice I have received, and good advice helps your personal life, as a solution in your professional life then doesn’t impact upon your own time.

Which female leaders do you admire and why?

I admire Deborah Turness, the former editor of ITV News, and now the President of NBC News. She was always very charming and nice, and stood her ground in a respectable inspiring manner whilst involving her team in discussions. She never passed on bad energy despite a stressful job. I also admired Margaret Thatcher.

Which words sum up where you have got to today?

Curiosity and hard work.

Women in Journalism: Laura Trevelyan, Anchor, BBC World News America

Laura Trevelyan, BBC

Laura Trevelyan, BBC

Tell us about your journey to where you are today.

Aged eight, I typed out a newspaper about life on our street in North London called the Cantelowes Gleaner – and that was the start of my journalistic career! The headline was a cat killed by a car. At Bristol University I wrote for student publications, then studied for a postgraduate diploma in journalism at Cardiff University.

My first job was as a local newspaper reporter in London – fantastic experience visiting police stations and covering local council meetings – and then I became a researcher for a Channel 4 TV programme A Week In Politics. That was my foot in the broadcasting door – and then I went to the BBC as a researcher on Breakfast News. This was the best introduction to the nuts and bolts of making TV – and from there I became a political reporter for a Sunday lunchtime TV show On The Record, spending a lot of time in Northern Ireland just after the IRA ceasefire.

Then I became a political correspondent for the BBC’s network news – and in 2004 moved here to the US, where I’ve been the BBC’s UN correspondent, New York correspondent and now an anchor of the BBC’s World News America broadcast.

How has your life experience shaped you as an individual?

As a teenager, I was an air cadet and learned to fly a glider, hike and camp. At university I was in the Air Squadron and flew a Bulldog aircraft solo, one of the first women in the country to do so as part of a pilot scheme to see how female pilots would fare in the RAF (Royal Air Force). All this taught me that if you’re determined and organized there’s nothing you can’t do. Per Ardua Ad Astra is the RAF motto – through hardship to the stars – and I’ve always found that inspiring.

How have you learned from these challenges and successes?

I learned to push myself, to take responsibility, and to understand that every setback teaches you something. At the air squadron, I was determined to be the first in my class to fly solo – and because the boys were studying engineering and I was an English student, I had more spare time and thus a huge advantage. I wasn’t a better pilot (in fact my navigation was sub-optimal!) but I put in more time at the airfield and did go solo first.

Laura takes part in a Twitter Q&A

Laura takes part in a Twitter Q&A

From Hurricane Sandy to the Boston Marathon bombing, you’ve covered some of the most dramatic events that have taken place in the USA. What have been some of the highlights and challenges during your broadcasting career?

Live broadcasting is always exciting, and sometimes extremely dramatic, as it was during the manhunt for the Boston suspects. Looking back over 20 odd years at the BBC, there are more than a few highlights. After all night negotiations in Belfast, as dawn broke and the Good Friday Agreement had taken shape, I was reporting live with a strong sense that this was a historic, hopeful moment after the bloodshed of the troubles. Covering the run up to the invasion of Iraq in 2003 at the House of Commons was another momentous time – the arm twisting that went on behind the scenes in Westminster, to get the votes to authorize the invasion, was something to behold. I was in the air between Washington and Tokyo when news broke of Dr David Kelly’s death – (a government scientist who doubted the government ‘s claims about WMD in Iraq,) and that led to a frantic 48 hours in Japan with the then PM Tony Blair.

Covering the UN was also an eye opener. A trip to Burma with the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in the aftermath of Cyclone Nargis was dramatic, culminating in a trip to see the Burmese Generals in their brand new capital, far from the suffering of those affected by the cyclone.

Covering the cholera epidemic in Haiti not long after the earthquake was a challenge. It was desperately sad to see people dying of a disease that is so easily treated – and in a setting that had already been ravaged by a devastating earthquake. But the courage and resilience of Haitians was also a lesson in grace under pressure.

Live broadcasting is not without its perils and numbers have been my undoing! At Westminster I once got the result of a vote wrong by reading the numbers backwards. When the editor of the six o clock news called to say well done, I had to explain my error…

What advice can you offer to women seeking a career in the media?

I would give the same advice as to men, at least initially – be accurate, determined, resourceful, organized, trustworthy, punctual and know what you want. To be a journalist you have to like people and you need to have excellent people skills or you won’t get anywhere. You must be passionate about wanting to tell the ever-changing story of our world, and responsible in the way you do it. Always be prepared to make the tea – or in the US, the cupcakes – and be kind to those who are in jobs that may not be as exciting as yours.

What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace?

I think it is the age-old question of balancing children and work. This is a responsibility which in general, still falls to women. So if you want to work in news and be a mother, you have to organize your life accordingly, planning for a breaking news scenario. In my case, that has always meant having live-in childcare. But even that isn’t infallible. I recently said no to a story that would have had me on one continent, my children on another and my husband on a third. That didn’t feel right!

Laura interviews Michel J. Martelly, President of Haiti

Laura interviews Michel J. Martelly, President of Haiti

How do you maintain a work/life balance?

That’s a work in progress! My neighborhood in Brooklyn is like a village, so I bump into my friends just by walking down the street with my kids. I’m in several book groups, which are a wonderful way to catch up, gossip and briefly discuss a book. I love to play tennis, and am constantly striving to improve my mediocre game! Playing cards with my boys is also a good way to hang out. In the summer, we head to the beach at the weekends.

As a Brit living in the USA, how has living in a different country changed your lifestyle and approach to life?

There’s no doubt that Americans – and New Yorkers in particular – are more go getting, ambitious and overtly competitive. It’s quite a change to the cosy consensus of home. I’ve found Americans to be enormously warm and open, which is rather different to the reserved English. Americans are also more direct. Here, people will invite a stranger to Thanksgiving at the drop of a hat – it’s almost a civic duty to welcome a stranger. So I have absorbed this different approach to life.

You released your first book in 2006. What is your next writing project?

Yes, my last book was about my Victorian Trevelyan relatives, famous historians and politicians in their day. This one is about my American family – the Winchesters, of Winchester rifle fame (my American grandmother married an Englishman and moved to Cambridge, England). The Winchester rifle was one of the first repeating rifles that fired more than one round at once – and my great great great grandfather Oliver Winchester set up the Winchester company in New Haven and became famous for manufacturing the gun that won the west. So it’s the story of the family behind the gun that was crucial in the settling of the American West. If I can just manage to finish it, it’ll come out in 2015.

Laura covers President Obama's Inauguration in 2013

Laura covers President Obama’s Inauguration in 2013

How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?

I wouldn’t say I had ever been formally mentored, exactly. But Sue Macgregor, the legendary Today programme presenter on Radio 4, was a huge supporter when I was a young reporter on the show. When Anna Ford was the presenter of the One O Clock News on BBC1, she was also very generous and supportive. The same goes for Martha Kearney, when she was the political editor of Newsnight and I was a reporter there. Martha is an insightful journalist and superb interviewer who was always kind and encouraging.

Who are your role models?

Sue Macgregor and Anna Ford, who forged ahead when it really was a man’s world. Right now, I would say Lyse Doucet is my role model – she is a brilliant on the ground reporter, who tells human stories from conflict zones with such care, and she’s a top presenter. She’s also a wonderful colleague. Mishal Hussein is the most natural live broadcaster in the world and makes it all look effortless.

What is one word that sums up where you have got to today?

Perseverance!

Laura Trevelyan is an anchor of the BBC’s US newscast BBC’s World News America which broadcasts on the BBC’s global 24 hour news channel BBC World News.

Laura was the BBC’s UN correspondent from 2006 to 2009. As the BBC’s United Nations Correspondent, she covered the diplomatic activity at United Nations HQ in New York, and the world body’s humanitarian and peacekeeping work in the field. She travelled with the new UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on his first overseas trip, which was to Africa in January 2007.

Laura has reported from Darfur on the UN’s attempts to deploy peacekeepers there, and from the International Criminal Court in the Hague when the Prosecutor accused Sudan’s President Omar Al-Bashir of committing war crimes and genocide in Darfur. She has also reported from Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Kenya on the UN’s work there. When Ban Ki-moon went to Burma to meet the ruling generals after Cyclone Nargis, she was one of only a handful of journalists to accompany him.  Laura covered the 2008 US presidential race, reporting on the primary campaign and President George Bush’s visit to Africa in February 2008, reporting from Liberia, Ghana, Tanzania and Rwanda.

Before moving to New York in 2004, Laura was a Political Correspondent for BBC TV and radio news, appointed in June 1999. She covered the conservative campaign in the 2001 General Election across all BBC TV and radio news outlets, reported for the BBC’s Newsnight programme, and then reported on the 2004 US Presidential Election for BBC News outlets in the UK.

Laura’s first job at the BBC was in 1993 as a researcher for Breakfast News. From there she moved to Newsnight as an assistant producer, before joining BBC One’s On The Record as a reporter in 1994, during which she covered the Northern Ireland peace process after the IRA ceasefire.

Laura was educated at Parliament Hill Girls School in North London before going on to gain a first class degree in politics from Bristol University in 1990 and a postgraduate diploma in journalism from the University of Wales College, Cardiff in 1991. She began her career as a general reporter for London Newspaper Group titles, such as the Hammersmith Chronicle in 1991. She joined Channel 4 as a researcher on A Week In Politics in 1992.

In 2006, Laura published a book about her ancestors: A Very British Family, The Trevelyans And Their World.