Isobel Frodsham knew she wanted to be a journalist from the age of 13. She loved the idea of meeting people from all walks of life, hearing their stories and then sharing their tales with the wider world.
Today, aged 28, she is doing exactly that – only she’s doing it in the midst of a global pandemic.
Isobel, who studied Journalism at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) and graduated in 2014, is a freelance news reporter in London, writing for Sky News, The Sun Online, The Sunday Times and national news agency PA.
Like millions of people across the country, Isobel is currently working from home due to the coronavirus outbreak – an unusual situation for a journalist who is used to hitting the ground to meet interviewees and suss out stories.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to fill the news agenda, and journalists work to share the latest vital updates – as well as inspirational stories of heroic NHS staff and healthcare professionals on the frontline – Isobel says she is proud to be a news reporter, keeping the public informed on the ever-changing situation.
“All of the places I’m working for now are providing such an invaluable service. People are reliant on us for daily updates,” she said.
“It’s always been our job as journalists to keep the public informed but now, more than ever, people are reading and listening to the news. If ever there was going to be a time that people would value journalism and recognise how important the service we provide is, it’s now, during a global pandemic.
“I’m so grateful to be kept on as a freelancer during such a difficult time. It’s comforting to know that my work is still appreciated. Everyone is smashing it and working so hard to get the news out there.
“At the end of the day we have to keep going. As a freelancer I pitch stories to my editors every day, so there is not really time to worry about working from home. News moves so fast."
* How students and staff at DMU are supporting the community at this time
* Advice and information on COVID-19
Since her time at DMU, Isobel has worked across local and national newspapers, starting out at the Leicester Mercury in March 2014, months before she graduated.
“I would always recommend starting off in local newspapers, without a doubt,” she said. “It gives you the best grounding and teaches you what stories are important to people and what they care about. It’s the best way to connect with people.
“I love the sense of community that Leicester has too. It is felt across the city and everyone from Leicester is so proud to be from there. I feel like the city changed over the years while I was there. I worked on the business desk so I spoke to a lot of organisations across Leicester and met some incredible people doing incredible things.
“My experience writing for the Leicester Mercury has helped me in every single job I’ve ever had.”
After two-and-a-half years of honing her skills as a local reporter, Isobel secured her first national job writing for the Mail Online – one of the world’s most-read news websites, reaching over 200 million visitors every month. She left the Midlands and headed for London, where she still lives today.
Following a year at the Mail Online, she went on to write for the Mirror Online and then, later, the London Evening Standard.
“I spent 18 months working the night shift at the Evening Standard and I got sent everywhere – from crime scenes to planning meetings to film premieres. In what other job can you experience all of those things?”
By working across national news desks, Isobel has covered some of the biggest stories in the country in recent years – including the Grenfell Tower tragedy in 2017.
“I was sent down to Grenfell on the night it happened and I was one of the first reporters on the scene,” she said. “I will never, ever be able to understand what those families went through but I knew at the time that it was my job as a reporter to make them heard.
“That community is so amazing and they are still fighting for justice today, so that their loved ones did not die in vain. If I can help them do that by sharing their stories, then that’s what I want to do.”
Seeing the impact her work can have on people is what inspired Isobel to want to become a newspaper reporter.
“I remember writing a story for the Evening Standard about a couple who had gotten into a row with the local council about the height of their roof. They’d not long bought their home and the local council was saying that their roof needed to be adjusted or else it would be pulled down,” explained Isobel. “The couple were so stressed because amending the roof would have made their home unliveable.”
After writing the story, Isobel went along to the next council meeting where the case was being discussed. Dozens and dozens of people had written letters, urging the council to reconsider because they had read the couple’s story in the paper and as a result, the council revoked their decision so the couple got to keep their home as it was.
“Stories like that just go to show why local news still matters,” said Isobel.
“Journalism is such a diverse industry and you get to experience so much. No other job gives you an insight into so many worlds. It is so different every day and I have met so many interesting people. You just keep learning – you never stop learning.
“I think that’s why Journalism is such a valuable degree to have. Not only does it teach you how to write, it teaches you how to communicate effectively too, and they are skills that you keep with you forever.”
Posted on Friday 10th April 2020