What makes a good journalist - Jeremy Paxman's tips

Jeremy Paxman meets School Reporters Jeremy Paxman has presented Newsnight since 1989 and University Challenge since 1994

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He is famous for his impatience with students on University Challenge, but Jeremy Paxman - late-night news programme Newsnight's most recognisable presenter - clearly knows a thing or two about being a successful journalist.

Start Quote

If your natural response is not to ask who, what, why where and when - then journalism may not be the career for you”

End Quote Jeremy Paxman BBC Newsnight presenter

He has been giving our School Reporters from St Michael's Catholic College in south London some of his top tips.

The students were well aware of Jeremy's reputation as a tough interviewer so they came well prepared to turn the tables on him, with their questions all written down.

But Jeremy's advice is do not read out your question. Put it in your own words and if you do not get a satisfactory answer then pursue it. Just say you don't understand or you don't think that will do really!

So what makes a good journalist?

Jeremy says you have got to be curious; you need to want to know what's going on. "It's a great life if you are curious about how things work and why," he says.

He told our reporting team he has spent all his life questioning things. He says trying to get an answer to some of those questions is what motivates him and it is satisfying being able to ask the question, although you don't always get an answer!

Jeremy Paxman meets School Reporters Jeremy Paxman with the team of School Reporters after the interview

But despite being on our TVs most nights of the week, grabbing the headlines for some of his more challenging interviews or just setting a fashion trend as when he grew his famous beard, he says there is nothing profound about being a journalist.

Jeremy says if your natural response is not to ask who, what, why, where and when - then journalism may not be the career for you.

And in typical Paxman style he says if that is not you: "Go and do something more worthwhile instead! Do something which helps people more directly or go and make lots of money."

However for him, asking those fundamental questions is still his motivation and the satisfaction of the job.

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