Ex-Islander Hannah Ewens is the junior editor at VICE UK.
Previously a staff writer at Dazed, the determined journalist has also had bylines in Kerrang! and the Guardian. She also showed an early interest for journalism with a work experience stint at the County Press.
It’s likely you recognize her name. After all, she’s the girl behind hilarious articles I Dressed Like An Idiot At London Fashion Week To See How Easy It Is To Get Style Blogged, I Spent 19 Hours In A London ASDA and—best of all —In Defence of the Isle of Wight.
yoppul caught up with the 25 year old to find out about her unique job at VICE, and to see if she’s got any advice for young people on the Island who want to get into journalism.
Have you always wanted to be a journalist?
I wasn’t too sure about journalism… I went to uni and did English at King’s College, London. I knew I wanted to do something in writing but I still wasn’t sure. I then sort of decided that journalism — probably wrongly — seemed like a more legitimate and more guaranteed way of making money from writing, because I was into doing playwriting and stuff like that.
How did you get into journalism?
I did loads of work experience while I was at uni. I did some at Thump magazine over summer, and then I went to FHM through the contacts that I made there. I had really bad anxiety, I had a job and did full time work in third year, because I was anxious about money. I somehow passed and saved up all this money from working full-time for two years, and I decided to do a masters in journalism at City University, London.
As part of that, I did work experience at Dazed and Confused, and VICE, and VICE asked me to come back for a long internship. Then I did freelancing for a year. I was then really lucky when I got a job as a staff writer at Dazed and Confused, and that was amazing.
Do you think growing up on the Island has influenced your writing?
I think growing up on the Island — most of my childhood was in Brading — because there’s not a lot to do for young people, it’s really easy to get into your own bubble. I love reading and writing and I spent a lot of time on the internet, so I had an insular childhood. And those three things are what I spend all day, everyday, doing now.
Does anyone in the industry have pre-conceptions of you because you’re from the Island?
Definitely. Everyone finds it hilarious.
“How often do you leave the Island” and “Are all your friends on the Island?” and all those stupid things like ”Do you need a passport?” — People ask me that one all the time.
What happens in a day at VICE?
We look at the news on our commute in, and make a news list to send round the team. Then we have a morning meeting and that’s where we decide what stories we’re going to pick up and how we’ll spin them in a VICE way.
What’s been your favourite article to work on at VICE?
I went to Brighton and spent the day with a sociology professor, who has written a book on how to have fun from a social and psychological aspect — what it means to have fun and why we don’t have enough of it. We went around and did fun stuff. Like we were going in the sea, and we spontaneously went on the rides. It really changed the way I think about how I spend my time, and made me think about the kind of people I spend my time with, and how important it is to include fun in your life.
What advice would you give to young people on the Island who want to get into journalism?
Practice writing. Start doing any kind of journalism you can online, without anyone else getting involved. Start with something like a blog. Then start pitching stuff to smaller publications. Use that work to pitch to places a bit bigger, and a bit bigger. You’ll be surprised how far you can get by doing that.
Also, have Twitter. Twitter is the only reason you get any work. Follow writers you like, and journalists you like, and engage with them. Put the places you’ve written for in your Twitter bio, as that’s the first place journalists are going to look when they commission you. Follow the people you wanna do work experience for on Twitter, and just share their work because people are just humans and you can massage their ego, and if they’ve got an Inbox of work experience then people will see that and be like “Oh yeah I recognize that name” because you’ve retweeted them or something like that.
What do you see yourself doing in the future?
I really, really enjoy writing. At the moment, I’m focusing on doing things like interviews, and in the future I’d like to see myself getting high-profile interviews and writing for other places. I got to interview Patti Smith and I absolutely love her, so I was really proud of doing that all. And Louis Theroux, one of my all time favourite people, he’s probably my favourite journalist, so that was really fun.
Thank you, Hannah! Follow her on Twitter: @hannahrosewens