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ESMEDIA meets Judy Friedberg

Judy Friedberg, current consultant in Higher Education and celebrated journalist of 25 years at The Guardian spoke exclusively to ESMEDIA about her life, career, experience and top tips for young creatives - from the best advice she ever heard to interview rules to live by.



Team ESMEDIA meeting with Judy Friedberg


1. Times have changed.

“People have so many skills… you’ve got to be everything!” It’s not enough to just be a writer anymore - you need to add as many skills to your portfolio as possible to stand out from the rest, be that photographer, graphic designer, social media expert, etc. For Judy, the most important thing is to “pick up skills wherever you can,” even if it's “soft skills” like networking. Everything counts.



2. Social Media is your USP.

Growing up in the digital age means we have more social media knowledge than anyone, and that’s what every company is looking for; “your knowledge of influencers, how to reach young people, and how platforms work are marketable skills,” and are also part of the “missing information” in a lot of industries. Market yourself as a social media expert, a multi-tasker, a multi-platform creative – like we said before, “you’ve got to be everything!”



Social media supporting engagement with your audiences online, photo by Sophie Allsop


3. Make sure you listen to hear, not listen to respond.

Active listening is something Judy swears by in interviews – that’s when you’re fully engaged in what the other person has to say, rather than what you’re going to say next or the phone that’s buzzing in your pocket. “People engage and open up to you more, and end up answering your question in more detail. You need to show passion in what they’re talking about, and make a note of when they appear passionate too - look at their hands, pick up on their cues. Listen and reflect.”


4. Find your curiosity, and pursue it.

Judy found her writing niche when she put together her two passions of education and journalism, and she’s been working on it ever since - “the journalists that succeed are the ones that have an insatiable hunger and curiosity.” Judy’s best advice for success is to “find where your two biggest interests intersect; it’s where you can add unique value and knowledge, it’s something you can explore.” For young creatives trying to break into a saturated market like journalism, having a niche can be the best way into jobs or opportunities and the easiest way to love what you do.



Finding our curiosity onset with Louis Lewinson, photograph by Sophie Nugent.


5. “Be yourself more, with skills.”

The best piece of advice Judy has heard talks about always being yourself, “when most people trying to persuade you to be someone else, like your mum or social media. It can take you your whole life to try be yourself… being ‘more’ of yourself comes when you start thinking, ‘what do I enjoy doing the most? Where do I enjoy being the most?’ You draw conclusions from what you do and how you interact.” The skills are what sell you, but being yourself is the most important thing.


6. Not all quotes are great.

“Don’t be afraid to go back in an interview [with a client] and ask a question again or rephrase it,” and don’t always stick to your list of questions either; “questions are a great way of prioritising what’s important, but you need to be able to listen to what they’re saying and react to interesting points.” Judy recommends asking the interviewee about themselves first – who they are, where they come from, why they’re interesting, because after all -

“People want to know who they’re watching first, and hear about their technical stuff later.” - Judy Friedberg

7. Think about what your audience want and do it.

“Some people can’t look at a photo and instantly understand it, they need a brief explanation,” and the modern photographer needs to be able to provide it in a few powerful and colourful sentences. Judy spoke about the importance of being adaptable to situations – especially in an interview or photoshoot - and thinking from the audience’s point of view, “don’t assume everyone knows [who you’re interviewing]. Who are you doing the interview for? What do they want to see? What makes this person different from the rest?”


written by Katie Robinson,

special thanks to Judy Friedberg and Coventry University's Social Enterprise Hub for hosting.

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