Freelance Journalist

August 12, 2022 (Updated )

As the assistant editor for The Guardian’s daily newsletter ‘First Edition’, Nimo Omer handles a huge intake of information on a daily basis.

The job involves a lot of responsibility, some very early mornings, and a whole lot of important research and reporting. We talk to Nimo about how it all started with a story about travelling animals.

My Day Starts At…

It depends on whether I’m working from home or in the office. I usually get up at about 6am and then get into the office for 8:30 to 9am. I go into our news conference where all the editors give a debrief on what’s happening that day, and everyone has a short discussion about the big story that’s hitting everywhere.

Then I go and feed back to my editor; he’s usually in that meeting as well. I’ll talk about which areas are interesting and we then decide on a topic. I go ahead and research and write it up, then we finish the whole newsletter file for about 3pm. It’s edited and then the next morning it’s checked again.

We have to wake up at 4 or 5am to make sure that nothing has changed during the night. We divide that responsibility between us and also […] with the Australia desk, because they’ll be up at that point, checking the work as well, changing headlines, et cetera.

Journo Resources
“I wrote my first story when I was in Year 4: it was about animals who could talk and travel the world together.”
Nimo Omer

I Always Thought I’d Be…

A writer, since I was eight years old. I wrote my first story when I was in Year 4: it was about animals who could talk and travel the world together. My brother typed it up on our fat computer and printed it off to show my teacher.

I wanted to be a writer but I didn’t know what kind of writer. When I was younger, I thought it was going to be fiction — I was writing a lot of poetry. But then I realised when I was quite young that I was really interested in politics.

Journalism became a perfect intersection of wanting to be a writer, wanting to tell stories, and then combining that with my huge interest in the world and what happens around us, why it’s happening, and trying to understand it.

The Thing Which Surprises Me Most About My Job Is…

This is going to sound extremely stereotypical, but other people. If you give people a chance, they will truly surprise you. Whatever you think is true can be in a moment’s notice flipped on its head and changed.

Nothing is fixed, it’s fluid and the capacity of people to […] adapt to the pace at which things change will never fail to surprise me, even though I’ve seen it for quite a while now.

Journo Resources
Journo Resources

Nimo collecting her British Journalism Award (L) and speaking at the Student Publication Association Conference (R)

My Typical Day Involves…

Looking at a screen and talking to people. It’s a lot of thinking, a lot of reading, and a huge amount of information intake; I take in so much information all the time and then have to — in real time — process, analyse, examine, and fact-check that huge mountain of data.

I Got The Job Because…

My current editor was following my career; he was aware of me, contacted me, and asked me to apply for the job that I’m currently in. I think that winning the [British Journalism] award really helped, and the fact that I was working on a daily podcast, constantly putting information out into the world, also really helped.

a screenshot of Nimo's story on gal-dem ' What happened to Shukri Abdi? content warning How the death of a 12-year-old refugee became a contested cause.'
Nimo’s reporting for gal-dem. (Image Credit: Screenshot)

I’m Most Proud Of…

In terms of myself, I’m really proud that I have persevered in [quite a] difficult industry. Work-wise, I’m really proud that I’ve believed in my gut and learnt to constantly question myself and reflect.

I’m really proud of my Shukri Abdi reporting. I think that really changed the conversation, throwing light onto something that was really uncomfortable for many people, and something that people didn’t want to talk about.

I’m really happy that I was part of helping to set the record straight. I think that as a journalist, you’re supposed to be committed to the truth and I think in that reporting, it really showed that I was.

If I Was Starting Again…

I wouldn’t change anything, not really. I mean, obviously I’ve made mistakes and I’ve messed up but at the seasoned age of 23, I think you have to make mistakes. I think making mistakes is a profoundly human thing and that’s how you learn.

As long as it wasn’t a catastrophic mistake, you can bounce back. Even if they were catastrophic mistakes, you can usually bounce back and dust yourself off. So, I would say I’ve made mistakes but I’ve learnt from them.

Journo Resources
“It’s a bit of a myth that you need to be on [Twitter]. It’s great for networking [...] but I think we have put too much weight on it. It can bite you in the arse; it can come back to haunt you.”
Nimo Omer

I’d Be Wary Of…

Twitter. I think it’s a bit of a myth that you need to be on it. It’s great for networking, it’s important for contacting editors, but I think we have put too much weight on it. It can bite you in the arse; it can come back to haunt you.

You don’t always need to make those ephemeral statements that will follow you forever. Be more considerate, take your time, and just be discerning. Think about what you’re doing and ask yourself, “Why am I doing this all the time?”

There is fake news everywhere. Use your critical thinking skills. So long as you can look at things through the lens of “I’m not just believing what I’m reading here,” Twitter can be quite an interesting tool. But I would just say, don’t entirely rely on it.

Don’t put your self-worth into it. Your portfolio, your articles, your podcasts, your radio shows, your newspaper, are far more important than your brand.

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

Make sure you’re really rigorous with your work. You’re not going to get it right the first time, you’re not going to get it right the second time, [and] your writing may not be where you want it to be, but that will get better.

What you need to be is really rigorous: check, double check, follow up, be annoying, do all that stuff that’s really hard and uncomfortable. Because if someone does say something about it, you know in your gut that you’ve done the work and at that point I would say, back yourself. If your editor backs you, if your paper backs you, just sit back comfortably in that knowledge.

Journo Resources
“I want more people and I want different people and I want all kinds of people doing all kinds of things in senior positions, in middle positions, coming in, and coming out.”
Nimo Omer

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

I have gripes with representation in politics. I do think that this industry is overwhelmingly white, male, and middle-class. It can be extremely alienating to be one of the few or one of the only (especially) amongst editors.

As an industry, generally, my peers look around [at] people that don’t look like them, and don’t really understand why their stories are important. I’ve been legitimately very lucky with my editors who have been super supportive, genuinely really understood me and what I want to report on, and why I want to report it in a certain way. They’ve pushed me and they have questioned me, and it’s been amazing.

It’s been an amazing experience, but I think that’s actually quite rare in this industry. I want more people and I want different people and I want all kinds of people doing all kinds of things in senior positions, in middle positions, coming in, and coming out. I want it to look like the world that I live in.

journalist nimo omer in london
(Image credit: @nimsaden / Twitter)

After Work…

I live in London, I’m young, I have a social life, I go out with my friends. I think I keep a fairly busy life.

I try to have a work–life balance, because as much as I love my job, you obviously need more. I’m 20-something and living in London, so that’s my thing in the evening. It’s just seeing where the city takes me.

Header image courtesy of British Journalism Awards 2021
Tabitha Lambie
Tabitha Lambie

Tabitha Lambie (she/they) is a young journalist based in the Lancashire region. She is currently the Editor in Chief at SCAN: Student Comment & News (Lancaster University’s student publication) and has recently been elected as the Training Officer for the Student Publication Association.