In december, two Terminales forms (TES1 and TS1) had a two- hour conference with an English journalist, Mr Peter Popham. He was present at the "Forum de l’enseignement supérieur et des carrières" on November 17th at Strohl-Fern. Mr Popham is a correspondent in Rome for the Independent and writes about the whole Meditterean area and the Balkans. He talked about his own carreer and his daily work as a journalist and newspaper correspondent. He then gave us an interview.
What can you tell us about what you did before journalism ?
I went to university in the north of England. After I graduated, I was an English teacher in Japan. I also lived in India and now I’m in Rome.
Which country did you enjoy the most ?
The most interesting one was India.I lived in Delhi and I had to write about India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka.
What attracted you most about journalism ?
When I was at school I was good at writing and I loved it. So being a journalist permits me to do what I love and to earn a good salary. That’s the difference from being a book writer, which is really tough as a profession because it rarely enables you to earn a living.
Would you like to go on being a journalist in the future ?
Journalism is still my passion and I get a lot of pleasure out of writing articles. One of the colleagues I most esteem once said to me something I believe to be true : the best articles are those which you would write whether you were paid or not.
What do you enjoy in reporting news ?
It’s a lot of satisfaction to do the job well and also to see your name in the paper.
How did you arrive at the Independent ?
The Independent was a matter of luck, pure chance. I started as a free lance and I worked for a lot of magazines. I worked in Japan for 7 years and when I came back to England I went to the Independent because they offered me a job.
Can you write your opinions in your articles ?
There is a delicate way of writing which makes the reader understand what you think about the subject even if you don’t say it explicitly. You mainly do it by using irony.
What could happen to journalism in the future ?
The future might be on the web but nobody really has any idea. It’s impossible to say how journalism will change even in two years time.
Have you ever encountered any censorship ?
They might tone down opinions but I have never encountered censorship. Occasionally one’s work is edited to cut out vulgar idioms and also to make adjustments to length and style but never for opinions.
Where would you like to go after Italy ?
Latin America. It’s a very interesting continent and it is also turbulent but unfortunately I don’t speak the language. I would also like to go back to India, Kashmir is really beautiful though it has a lot of problems. Africa is attractive, too, but it is too vast for one person to cover.
Is it complicated to be a reporter ?
It has changed now. Before I used to write for weekly magazines and travel a lot . I used to fax the article and they would send it back to correct it. The whole process would take 3 to 4 days. Now it’s much quicker. And I have always been a reporter.