Faith Worked Out: Rosie Wright
We are delighted to share this interview with Rosie Wright: covering everything from hilarious moments on live radio, to how we deal with fake news as Christians, and tips for you girls hoping to go into journalism and media.
Rosie is an award-winning broadcast journalist and co-presents the “Inspirational Breakfast” programme every week day on Premier Christian Radio. She has previously worked for BBC London, LBC and ITV This Morning.
1. What do you never leave the house without? Lipstick and lip balm (always!)
2. Dinner party guest: Michael Macintyre
3. One interesting fact? I cycled from home in London to Paris aged 15
4. Habit you wish you could change? My inability to locate my phone/keys/oyster card/purse!
5. Place on earth most like heaven: The top of table mountain
1. Hi Rosie, tell us a bit about yourself - where did you grow up? How did you become a Christian, and what do you do now?
I’m a 25-year-old Londoner and eldest of 4 girls. Life revolves around friends, my gospel band, family and my love of talking.
I don’t think there was a lightbulb moment when I decided to become a Christian. I have my patient family and committed friends to thank for an upbringing that was always centred around church. As a teenager (and I was a stubborn one!) there was a gradual shift in my realisation that the stories I was raised on in Sunday school had a deeper meaning. I slowly understood that it wasn’t just about believing, but having faith in God and trusting in him. I was going to take that relationship seriously.
When it comes to work, the aim has always been to make talking my mission. After a year or two as an assistant news producer for LBC Radio and for the TV show “This Morning” on ITV, I decided to try and make the move from producer to presenter. For the last year and a half I’ve sat behind the microphone at Premier Christian Radio.
2. What does your daily routine look like?
It starts early! The alarm goes off before 5am (owch) and I head into our central London studios. The radio show kicks off at 7am, and one of my first jobs is to review the day’s newspapers. I get my breakfast, and speed read through the day’s news. The programme means I’ll spend the next couple of hours interviewing Christians who are making the headlines that day and hosting phone-in discussions. My show finishes at 10 o’clock, I’ll have a quick de-brief with my producer and co-presenter, then it’s a rush to get ready for the next day’s show!
I clock off at 2pm ish – then the afternoon is mine! I’ve decide to make myself like running (this is slow progress) so I might attempt a run around the park. Bed time is supposed to be 9.30, 10pm at the absolute latest but this can sometimes be hard in practice!
3. What are the highlights of your job?
Well, what a year for news we’ve had. Sitting on a breakfast programme and bringing the news live that we're leaving the EU, or that Donald Trump has been elected has been phenomenal. Asking Justin Welby how he was planning on voting in the EU referendum was a highlight! (He actually told me it was between him and God...).
With live radio you can never anticipate what's going to happen: we play a competition every morning and my absolute favourite moment has got to be the infamous incident when I asked one slightly nervous phone-in competitor to (under time pressure) "Name a character in the bible beginning with G". After some painstaking hesitation, the answer she gave was... "Gandalf?" Amazing!
4. What's the most challenging part of your job?
When people tune in in the morning, they are not just expecting to be entertained. We’re there to deliver information: whether that's the weather (do you need your umbrella?) or the traffic. Importantly, it means delivering the news.
Sometimes the news is far from trivial. It can be galling. However emotional a story can be, if a situation develops live on air it’s my responsibility to report it; as people may be hearing the story for the first time. This takes emotional resilience when dealing with a story just like the Manchester attack, and there is a huge importance on getting the story RIGHT, and not rushing and making mistakes. People trust the news they hear on the radio – that relationship needs to be protected.
It’s also difficult to have a down day on the radio. You’re there to kick-start people’s day – a little adrenaline goes a long way when you have to talk for a three hour show!
5. The news can be very overwhelming and it can be hard to know how we can begin to respond as Christians, and as young women. What's your advice?
The barbaric attack on Monday has bought this into such sharp focus. Girls just like us, teenagers, children, young adults, were victims to the most abhorrent, grotesque acts. How can you pray when you don’t have words? When you’re angry, hurt, confused, reeling from hearing tragic news?
On Tuesday morning the message that came across clearly as we spoke to Christians in Manchester was this: 'The Lord is close to the broken hearted' (Psalm 34:18). Try to keep that in mind. You can tell your friends that it’s alright to cry, feel angry, feel confused. God is big enough to listen to all of that. If prayer is at the heart of you working things out – God will stay at the centre.
6. How can we debate with friends who have different views to us, in a way that is honouring to God?
I’m sure we’ve all be caught up in those debates where you’re looking at your friend thinking “how do you believe that?!”. As we prepare for a general election, Christians have been working out how we can “disagree well”. If I’m honest – I think we haven’t nailed this yet.
Here are some things to keep in mind. As Christians, we’re all built differently; not only do we have different genetic makeup, but our experiences, relationships and upbringing all mould who we are today. Life would be exhaustingly boring if we all came to the same conclusions. I don’t think God wants us to all be cut from the same cookie mould – he made us as individuals.
To honour God, the best advice I can give is to remember that your friend's opinion is valuable – if you don’t agree just listen. And really listen. Take time to decide what’s at the heart of the debate – chose your disagreements wisely. If you can’t come to a conclusion, it’s much better to step back, take time to decide what you want to say (ask someone for advice if you need to) then revisit it, rather than to inflame it in the heat of the moment.
7. What advice would you give to girls looking to explore the word of journalism and media?
Work experience! I learnt the most about what life in a newsroom is like when I was in one. Use your contacts, friends of friends – if you don’t ask, they can’t give you an opportunity! Don’t underestimate your email – with some careful investigation you can find out most people’s email address. Get in touch, ask to take them for a coffee. If they don’t reply (I’ve seen news editors delete huge numbers of emails in one go) then email again!
Once you’ve got work experience – be proactive, helpful, look for jobs you can do. I made many cups of tea at the beginning of my career. Always follow up with a thank you message. Make yourself memorable. (For those of you feeling really savvy, you might want to email me(!))
One warning though – if you work in journalism you can wave goodbye to normal working hours! If a story breaks at 9pm on a Friday, you’ll be at work, not out with your friends!
8. How can we respond to all the storm around 'fake news' as Christians, wanting to engage with our culture and society, but also wanting to find truth?
Jesus said he was the “way the truth and the life”. (John 14:6). And as Christians we seek to reveal truth. However, the news agenda can paint a very different picture. We are in an era where “fake news” has become hard to differentiate from truth. There is news that deliberately seeks to mislead. In the US election, a story that the Pope Francis endorsed Donald Trump for President was shared, commented on and reacted to 961,000 times on Facebook.
Stories like this are obviously damaging. How should you protect yourself? Ask lots of questions. Does this story sound believable? In history classes you’ll learn that you need to question your sources – don’t think you should do any different with news you see on social media. Don’t be afraid to challenge stories that don’t add up. My golden rule – be firm but polite!
9. Finally, if you could go back and give one piece of advice to your 15 year old self, what would it be?
Take a deep breath. Everything will be OK! I worried endlessly, about exams, relationships, my future career. But God has never given me a challenge that I wasn’t equipped to deal with (even if I couldn’t see it at the time).
Try not to indulge in thinking about who you might be “when you’re older” and just focus on, and celebrate who you are today. My life age 25 doesn’t look like what I thought it would age 15 – and that’s (honestly) great!