Suzanne Baum is a freelance lifestyle journalist who has a career spanning 25 years. As well as specialising in celebrity interviews and hard news, Suzanne writes beauty and features and has her own column in titles including The Metro, The Sun, and The Evening Standard.
When did you first realise you wanted to become a journalist?
I started my passion for writing when I was at Leeds University studying English and Art.
What was your first job in journalism?
After completing my degree, I landed my first job as an Editorial Assistant on the Jewish Chronicle, the biggest newspaper for the Jewish community which at the time was based in Fleet Street. Looking back, to think I got my first job in what was then the heart of the UK media industry makes me feel extremely proud.
The great thing about starting as an Editorial Assistant was that I could try my hand at all different kinds of things and get a feel for different types of journalism – both news and features. I learnt a lot, starting at the bottom of the career ladder and working my way up.
One of my favourite memories was when I got my first column in the Jewish Chronicle – ‘Suzanne’s Guide to the Social Scene.’ For a young girl this was like a dream come true – out partying and socialising all the time and getting paid for it. What could be better?
I also had the privilege of getting my by-line on the major front-page story about the assassination of the fifth prime minister of Israel Yitzhak Rabin in 1995. Again, for someone in the early stages of her career, I was extremely proud to have written this story.
What media titles have you worked for during your career?
After I left The Jewish Chronicle, I had my first two sons who are now 21 and 20. I decided that the best option was to start freelance work to fit into the routine of bringing my children up.
At the time, there were quite a few major parenting titles including Mother & Baby, Practical Parenting and Junior. As a new mum, I could combine my passion for writing with topics I knew a lot about so this was an ideal situation.
The more by-lines I had, the more freelance work I started to pick up. My name became increasingly well known throughout the media industry and started to develop my own columns in national media titles focusing on health, beauty, and celebrity lifestyles.
What is your favourite story to have worked on?
Gosh, it would be hard to pick just one.
I’ve always enjoyed the excitement and adrenalin of major breaking news stories including the assassination of Yitshak Rabin which I’ve already mentioned, the 7/7 London bombings and the outbreak of wars which I’ve covered during my freelance shifts for ITV.
Alongside ‘hard news,’ I’ve also enjoyed covering health and lifestyle stories which so often have such a positive impact, such as breakthroughs in new health treatments and technologies.
I feel immensely honoured and proud to have interviewed Dame Deborah James in the days before her death. She was such an amazing lady and a true inspiration for us all.
What’s the most difficult story you’ve worked on?
I’ll probably have to say some of the more recent stories I’ve done about the war in Ukraine. It’s so harrowing to hear about some of the terrible suffering of the young children and families caught up in the conflict. It doesn’t seem right to be interviewing them from my warm and comfortable home in London.
During COVID, I covered a lot of stories about people experiencing the loss of loved ones, and this was extremely difficult.
Who’s the most famous person you’ve interviewed?
Again, it would be extremely difficult to pick out just one.
What I find difficult is when people like the Love Islanders call themselves famous and celebrities when they haven’t really done anything. I’d rather interview people who have done great things, rather than ‘overnight sensations.’ So, from over the years, I remember interviewing people like Andre Agassi, David Beckham, and all the British Olympians to name just a few.
Oh, and Bridgerton was such a great programme to keep us all going through lockdown that I really enjoyed interviewing the entire cast.
Describe your working day
This very much depends on what I’m working on at the time.
I’ll sometimes conduct an interview and then must rush home, type it up and send it off to the publication the same day.
Other times, if I’m writing feature articles, I can be more relaxed and have more time to complete them.
With deadlines and the fast-paced environment of journalism, it must be quite a pressurised and stressful job. How do you relax in you spare time?
I love family time with my husband and three sons walking our Cockerpoo on Hampstead Heath.
My youngest son is 13, and even though the older ones are 20 and 21 they still keep me extremely busy!
How do you prefer to be contacted by people with a story?
I don’t really mind, although email does seem to be the most popular choice these days.
What I must say, is that people need to personalise what they send to me and make it relevant for me. I get extremely frustrated about the number of press releases which are simply addressed ‘Dear XXX!’ This just shows that the sender hasn’t made any effort to research my contact details or find out about me, and this really annoys me.
Supplying good photography is also extremely important if people are wanting me to include something in my health and beauty columns.
Connect with Suzanne on Instagram