Freelance Journalist

September 12, 2022 (Updated )

Nick Stylianou’s average working day has changed a lot over the past year, as he’s recently swapped Sky News’ London base for reporting in Ukraine. As a senior producer for the channel, he has covered all aspects of the war — from a mother waiting for news of her son to actors who vow to play on.

We caught up with Stylianou about his love for storytelling, advice for early-career journalists, and his typical working day reporting from a conflict zone.

My Typical Day Involves…

This is a bit difficult because it depends on whether you want my typical working day six months ago or my working day when I was in Ukraine… As for a normal working day [in London], my first meeting of the morning is at 9:30am on [Microsoft] Teams. Sometimes I do it from the car.

The output editors and [all the different] desks do a rundown of all the stories which are due to go out that day. Shortly afterwards, the evening team has a meeting as we’re working towards Sky News at 10, our flagship programme. I’ll be working on the top stories of the day.

There are two of us working as package producers per day and we’ll decide what interests us about those top pieces, what needs the most work, what should be edited by specialists in the field, and what we think we can deliver the most value to. After this, we’ll discuss who we want to speak to and how we think this will look with our editor. Then we’ll speak to the correspondent and ask them how they want to tell the story.

a screenshot of the sky news website with a story of nick's. headline reads EXCLUSIVE: Detailed plans of a British military base were left online for years
Nick Stylianou’s work can also be found on the Sky News website. (Image credit: Screenshot)

Only at this point will we really start to get going. We’ll make phone calls, we’ll get in touch with our crews in different locations, and we’ll start to source our case studies. We try to balance our national coverage so that all our crews are being utilised; for example, if there are a lot of London stories, we’ll try to source a case study from another place in order for the programme to have a national flavour. In some cases, the less London the better. Then after phone bashing, getting interviewees, and working out where our footage is coming from, the correspondent goes and does interviews.

At about 3pm, we have another newsroom meeting where we’ll discuss updates to see what’s changed. After that, I’ll be looking to get into an editing suite, work out a structure for the story, and write a script for our packages. Then it becomes crunch time. The first of my pieces is usually on at 7pm, so between 4–7pm I’m in the editing suite which can be very intense. It runs for the first time at 7pm and then I’ll make some edits to produce the best version possible for the News at Ten. I try to watch all the 10pm bulletins to see how the competition did my piece.

Journo Resources
“Often we’d go out in the morning and just have a walk around the town in order to find stories. I can’t stress enough how much of it involved being outside.”
Nick Stylianou

Reporting From Ukraine…

No two days are similar in any way. A lot of it involves risk assessments of what we want to do, discussing with London when they want us to go live, and meeting with the programme team to discuss guest ideas. We struggled to get downtime from our war coverage and most days we’d only get one hot meal because that’s all that was on offer.

When it was a little safer to get out, I’d talk to our fixer to see whether or not it was feasible for us to do the stories we had discussed the night before. I would meet them at about 10am and then check my rough risk assessment by our security advisor, who would ask questions like: “Are we going very far away from a hospital?”, “Are we entering territory which is considerably more dangerous?”, “Will we need Covid masks for where we’re going?”, “How well does the driver know the route, and are there any checkpoints?”

Nick in Kiev with his Sky News crew
Stylianou (centre) with other members of the Sky News team, including presenter Gillian Joseph. (Image credit: Twitter)

It was incredibly difficult to transition from producing cultural pieces to going into Kyiv, where it was non-stop broadcasting during an invasion. We could also see the effects of the humanitarian crisis in Lviv. Often, we’d go out in the morning and just have a walk around the town in order to find stories.

I can’t stress enough how much of it involved being outside, absolutely freezing, just waiting to go live on air… A lot of fried potato-based snacks were consumed!

I Always Thought I’d Be…

This is my third dream job. It went: one, actor, two, rockstar, and three, journalist. I was absolutely gripped by storytelling and truth — I really couldn’t stay away from the news as a kid!

I remember watching the Iraq war on Sky News on a small TV in my kitchen and I just wanted to be part of the storytelling. I had always liked making videos and taking photos, I just loved the visual medium. I also love radio and I adore writing, but there was another dimension I wanted to give to these stories.

Explore More From A Day In The Life

Every week, we take a look behind the scenes of working life for journalists across the UK. Read more insights from:

Megha Mohan, gender and identity correspondent at BBC News

Suyin Haynes, editor-in-chief of gal-dem

Chandni Sembhi, senior producer at PinkNews

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, columnist and journalist.

When I was younger, being a broadcast journalist just meant being a reporter on the television, whereas by the time I’d got to studying my master’s at City University, there were a whole array of careers to explore. Now, I’ve been to all sorts of places with all sorts of people and the ability to be part of that process is something that never really leaves you.

If People Wanted To Follow In My Footsteps, I’d Say…

It doesn’t matter whether your newsroom is five people with a load of borrowed software putting your publication together, a local paper that’s been gutted by a big company, or a national newsroom. It’s about the stories you’re covering. Sometimes the route to becoming a professional journalist sucks that out of you, but you mustn’t let it.

Journo Resources
“It doesn’t matter whether your newsroom is five people with a load of borrowed software putting your publication together, a local paper that’s been gutted by a big company, or a national newsroom. It’s about the stories you’re covering.”
Nick Stylianou

The Thing I’d Most Like To Change About The Industry Is…

I think it’s important that we constantly challenge ourselves to get into communities that are underrepresented. That means always re-examining where our blind spots are as an industry as a whole.

In terms of the broadcast industry and the newsroom I work in, which is the only thing I feel I can speak to, it’s being able to constantly look at ourselves and go: “What are we missing? Why are we missing it? Is it a corner of Sheffield we can’t get into? Why can’t we get into it? Is it because all our reporters are white? Or is it because all our reporters are straight?”

By challenging ourselves, we’re also challenging other areas of the industry, which in turn will challenge us again.

I’m Most Proud Of…

The BAFTA. I’ve got to mention the BAFTA. I was only a small part of that, but I’ve got one. I was incredibly proud of the Hong Kong story. We forced people to look at these issues. We were up against the Prince Andrew story, so to be recognised by the BAFTAs was incredible.

I’m proud of lots and lots of things I’ve done, such as the investigations into Grenfell and finding interviewees who have never been on TV before. And while it sounds edgy and dangerous, I was also proud to be in Ukraine, telling stories from real people and trying to do the coverage justice.

Dolly Carter
Dolly Carter

Dolly has recently joined Archant as a Trainee Reporter across their Suffolk titles, the East Anglian Daily Times and Ipswich Star. Previously, she was Editor-in-Chief of her student paper Concrete and was highly commended for Outstanding Commitment at the 2022 Student Publication Association Awards.