Political Correspondent with the Irish Examiner, Aoife Grace Moore began her journey into the world of journalism simply by existing in a place where civil unrest was a part of everyday life.
Growing up in Derry during the troubles opened Aoife’s eyes to the importance of news consumption. “I think my upbringing had a lot to do with it. I grew up in Derry city during the peace process and it was quite hard not to see the news. You had to watch it every night at six o’clock and my dad was an avid paper buyer and paper reader,” she said.
Whilst Aoife’s mother and her school thought law would be the best route for her, she wanted to play on her strongest subject, English. But the troubles in Derry and her love for English weren’t her only motivators. “It was around the time the film about Veronica Guerin was coming out. I remember thinking she was so fearless. It always was impressed on us how important the press was in getting people’s voices out who might not necessarily be listened to.”
Aoife went on to study multimedia journalism for four years in Caledonian University, Glasgow. It was there where she wrote for the college newspapers and embraced all aspects of life as a young journalist – working hard and for free. “You do all the free work that you shouldn’t be doing. I really don’t believe in it now, but when you’re that age you just do anything,” she said.
From there, Aoife went on to work in a regional newspaper in Scotland covering courts which she loved. “It was quite a poor area on the west coast. It had quite a bad heroin problem and a lot of social deprivation. That really gave me my grounding in journalism. And it just went from there.”
But when Aoife moved to Australia for two years, the subject matter of her reporting was slightly different. “When I got to Australia I didn’t know anyone and journalism there is so competitive. I didn’t understand the politics and I had never worked there before, so the only job I could get and the one that was offered to me was a chief reporter for a magazine about trucks and lorries. Even now I could tell you so much about truck engines and what you can use different lorries for,” Aoife laughed.
Now Aoife not only reports to the Irish Examiner as their political correspondent, she’s also opened up her world of politics to all her followers on Instagram, sharing photos and videos of her different adventures everyday making politics accessible to everyone, and according to Aoife that’s the way it should be.
“For me, politics is always about people, whether your child’s on a waiting list, or your granny’s on a waiting list, whatever it is, it affects you, it’s politics and it’s the political decisions that decide the life we’re going to have.”
For Aoife, informing the public of political matters and never knowing for definite what her day will look like, are just a couple the many pros of being a journalist. “Take GolfGate for example. The day that happened I was at an incredibly boring conference about re-opening schools. Obviously, the list for that day didn’t have GolfGate on it. The front page was supposed to be something very different.”
But, like every profession, there are cons too. The biggest one for Aoife in her journalism career so far is social media. Aoife recounted the abuse she receives online from the assumptions of her political affiliations to the way she looks. “It’s definitely the lowest part of the job,” she said. “A lot of the time some people can assume the worst about you when you’re just trying to do your job.”
It seems Aoife has become immune to the online brickbat. “I get a lot about the way I talk because I’m quite clearly working class so a lot of the abuse I get is about how I speak, about how I conduct myself and how I look. I quite enjoy that I don’t look or sound like a political correspondent. People can relate to me more because I don’t look like Pat Leahy,” she laughed.
A day in the life of journalism
Unscathed by the online trolling, Aoife just gets on with it. We asked her what a day in the world of reporting looks like. And while it may seem standard attending meetings and conferences, Aoife can never be certain what her day will look like. “Nothing really happens in politics before 11 or 12,” Aoife said. It begins with a politics list sent out from one of her editors which is a run-down of what they think the day is going to look like.
Aoife uses Tuesday as an example as it’s one of the busier days in politics with Leaders Questions at 12 o’clock and a finance committee meeting on that same day. Someone is assigned to a specific task that is discussed at 12, Aoife and her team then regroup at four o’clock to decide what’s going into the newspaper and what the front page will be. “There will be four or five things on that day but it’s a very rough outline of what the day will be like. Politics is ever changing,” she said.
For Aoife time management is key in her profession. Even though certain work is delegated to her, she is also working against the clock on her own stories, “You might be doing three things at once. I think when you become a journalist you become really good at dividing your time.” And while Aoife describes some aspects of the job as “trying” at times, making a difference to people’s lives makes it all worth it for her.