Freelance Journalist

July 14, 2023 (Updated )

As one of Britain’s top figures in business journalism, Ruth David has a lot on her plate. After her recent promotion to Bloomberg’s London Bureau Chief and last year’s announcement of a multi-million-pound investment into its UK operations, her busy schedule doesn’t look set to change — nor does her enthusiasm for the craft of journalism and its future.

My Day Starts At…

I typically start my day at 6:30am, doing so from home because I’ve got a young kid and I like to, once the morning rush is over, drop them off at nursery.

I look at all the UK papers, see what [Bloomberg has] done overnight, and, more importantly, what we are missing. Someone tweeted that there should be a newsroom horror story called ‘Have we got that?’, and it’s true. Mornings are the time when you look at what your rivals have done and see whether you are all over the stories, whether you got the perspective right, whether you’ve told stories in the best way.

We have a news desk at Bloomberg that coordinates all regional coverage, so I talk to them to make sure we’ve got everything right as well. We have a morning call where we decide what we’ll focus on, whether there are any big scoops coming down the line.

Then, once all of that is done, I have to make sure that everyone working within my bureau is okay and all their needs are met.

The Structure Of My Usual Work Day Is…

So much of it depends on what the news is [and] what stories come in.

We have a column called ‘The Read Out’ that comes out once a week, so the days I’m writing that are fairly ordered, because I know I have to do it.

We run editorial boards at Bloomberg, so we’ll have CEOs of top companies, government officials, and policy makers in a room, and I’ll be sitting in on those meetings as an unofficial host.

Teams will need different things and come to me to help them sort it out. There are also so many people in our bureau — more than 500 journalists — and I’m here to address their needs. That includes ensuring they’re feeling okay personally and professionally in their role.

Growing Up, I Always Thought I’d Be…

I wanted to be a doctor, but I have a medical condition where I black out at the sight of too much blood, which isn’t that conducive to that profession. I was always very interested in the sciences.

Then, I wanted to be a political journalist, but I somehow got into business journalism — which isn’t just business, it’s any kind of story and then finding the business within.

When I got out of high school journalism was just becoming a big thing in India, because they were liberalising the market. You had all these foreign companies coming in, and money going into the profession. It was getting the kind of prestige it hadn’t received before, and there were always more courses coming up.

So, I did a course in journalism, as well as economics and politics, but the major was journalism.

ruth david being interviewed
Ruth David (R) being interviewed on the global dealmaking boom in 2021. (Image: Bloomberg)

I Got This Job Because…

I was in India. I’d just come back from Hong Kong, and I didn’t have a job. The editor-in-chief of Bloomberg came to India at the time and gave an interview to this Indian publication, saying: “We want to hire the best in the business because we want to grow our operations in India.”

So, I found his email, and I emailed him: “Well, you want to hire the best in the business, I’m right here, why don’t you hire me?”

He ignored me, so I kept emailing him until he put me in touch with the man who was running the Indian office at the time — whom I still count as one of my mentors to this day.

This Job Requires…

I think you need the courage of your convictions, but you also need the experience or talent to back up those convictions. When I approached the boss of Bloomberg asking for a job, I had been covering business in the area, and I’d worked at a few Indian newspapers and some US publications, so I had the experience.

You should also be willing to work hard and know that when you join a new place, you’ll have days that suck, and that you’ll have to get through those days to get to the better ones.

The Thing That Surprises Me Most About My Job Is…

In the early days when I joined, I was surprised by how open they were to give me chances.

For instance, I’d been in India for a year or so, and I’d go out with bosses and do a bunch of meetings with them. Then they asked me what I wanted to do, and where I saw myself in five years’ time. I said I’d like to go back to Hong Kong, but there weren’t any roles available there with Bloomberg. So, they told me why don’t you go to London and report on the markets.

I’d never even visited London, but they trusted that I could transfer the skills from my job in India to London. The thing is, being a good journalist is a transferable skill in many parts of the world. If you’re good at picking up a phone and asking questions or picking up a press release and seeing where the real news is, it doesn’t matter what country you’re in, you can do it.

Journo Resources
“I found his email, and I emailed him. He ignored me, so I kept emailing him until he put me in touch with the man who was running the Indian office at the time.”
Ruth David, London bureau lead at Bloomberg

I Am Most Proud Of…

My one goal when I came in was to be a player-coach; to do breaking news whilst also doing management.

That is something I take pride in because often times, people think once a journalist becomes a manager, they are no longer a journalist — that they don’t know how hard it is to go out in the field, or pick up the phone and get a story.

But I do know that because I faced those challenges myself, and the fact I continue to write shows I’m not just saying it, but also doing it.

I Would Be Wary Of…

Complacency. We had the chairman of our company in town last week, and he was talking about the importance of working hard, but also being prepared.

So often I meet people outside of journalism — company heads, politicians, etc. — who say that one of the great things about Bloomberg is that when a journalist comes into the room, they know about the interviewee and the discussion topic. Doing that prep work makes your life so much easier.

A Difficult Aspect Of My Job Is…

I have a very supportive partner but at this stage in my career, the biggest personal struggle is juggling being a mum and working hard.

Journalism is a career where you may have early morning starts and in the evening, you might have events, or a source call you who can only meet at 7pm. You know they are a really good source, and they might have a great story or idea, but you have a kid at home — so how do you manage the two?

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

I would love more resources to go into journalism. I think the saddest thing is how much the money pools are shrinking, and how that makes attracting people to journalism as a profession harder.

I think the world desperately needs journalism now, especially with authoritarian governments everywhere, and concern over fake news and what the truth actually is.

To People Who Want To Follow In My Footsteps, I’d Say…

Read a lot. Newspapers, books, and magazines. Have an idea of what the key issues are in the world right now, especially in the markets that are your focus area.

From a long-term perspective, try to build allies and make relationships within and outside the industry.

After Work, I…

I love food, so I try to make a good dinner most days of the week and try not to order-out. Also, just spending time with my child.

George Devo
George Devo

George is a freelance journalist and also studies politics at the University of Sheffield. He writes for the student newspaper Forge Press, where his piece on the struggles of student parents earned him a nomination for ‘best feature’ at the Student Publication Association Awards in 2023.

He’s a proud Brummie and a long-suffering supporter of Norwich City football club.

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