Kirsty Lang – Q&A

Kirsty Lang


Where are you from?

How did you get started in broadcasting?
Started at the BBC as a graduate news trainee in 1985 after completing a degree in International Relations at the London School of Economics and a postgrad MA in Journalism from City University, london. Went into broadcasting because I failed to get onto the Reuters or any of the newspaper schemes but basically I wanted to be a foreign correspondent and I didn’t care too much which medium I did it in. After finishing the trainee scheme I became a general news reporter in radio but I had itchy feet, it was 1989 things were moving in Eastern Europe and I applied for the job as Budapest stringer for the BBC World Service. I remained in Eastern Europe until the end of 1991 covering the start of the war in Croatia before I was appointed the number 2 correspondent in the BBC Paris office. After two years there I returned to London to be a reporter on Newsnight. In mid 1995 I was headhunted by the Sunday Times to be their Paris correspondent (95-98) where I covered the death of Princess Diana. I returned to TV as a roving Europe correspondent and presenter for Channel 4 News(1999-2002.)

What is your Best on-air moment?
Doorstepping Nelson Mandela in the early 90 soon after he’d been released from prison. It was the day he was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize with De Klerk and happened to be in Paris at the Crillon Hotel in the Place de la Concorde for a conference. I’m almost never star struck and I have met plenty of them but Mandela had such charm and charisma I was just bowled over.

What is your Worst on-air moment?
Being in Edinburgh for the Festival and geting a call saying that Princess Diana had been killed in paris where I was the correspondent and being on a beach in the West Indies and hearing on the radio that there had been a coup against Gorbachev when I had just set myself up as a stringer in Moscow – the Soviets wouldn’t let me back in so I ended up going to Croatia where the war had just begun. All I had in my suitcase was summer dresses and beachwear hardly suitable gear for a war correspondent although handy at check points.

What would you like to do before your career ends?
I’d like to be a foreign correspondent again. I’m a restless person by nature and I like to explore new parts of the world but where and when I’m not sure because I’d have to persaude my husband and son to come with me.

What do you like to do in your spare time?
I’m fortunate enough to work on the Radio 4 art’s programme, Front Row as well as BBC World so I have to keep across what’s on in the theatre, the cinema, art galleries and read lots of novels all of which I love. London is a fantastic city for the arts and that keeps me busy.

What advice would you give to anyone that would like to get into the broadcasting world?
Know the output, be focussed on where you want to get then pester the people working on those programmes until they agree to meet you and when they do, be prepared to have some good ideas. If it’s news you want to get into then you must be a news junkie, read the papers, the internet, listen the radio, tv, magazines – get yourself informed and then come up with ideas that other people aren’t covering.

A big thanks to Kirsty for taking part.

Posted by Johnnie Larkin on Thursday 21 May 2009