A day in the life of political journalist Jessica Mutch McKay

Jessica lets us in on her daily routine.

Not many of us who get to say “and then it’s off to Parliament” when we talk about our morning routine. We take a glimpse into the world of Jessica Mutch McKay – one of New Zealand’s leading political journalists.

What I enjoy most: Doing something that feels important – holding those in power to account.

Morning routine: When I wake up I scan the news websites for anything that’s developed overnight. I try to get to the gym a few mornings a week and I’ll listen to the latest news on the radio on the way. I always have a cup of tea and watch TVNZ 1’s Breakfast while I’m eating my breakfast, and then it’s off to Parliament.

When I get to work: I discuss the stories we’re going to chase with the team. We have a Skype call with all of the TVNZ news reporters and producers around the country at 9am to pitch our stories. Then our political team will grab a good, strong Wellington coffee and work out how we’re going to tackle the day.

My work space: On my desk I’ve got the 1 News Political Poll sitting at the top of the pile of paper alongside my notepads and pens. I’ve got two screens so that we can view and edit our footage that comes in during the day. I’ve got a Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump peace talk official memorial coin and a baseball given to me by one of the New York Yankees. My husband and I watched some games on our honeymoon. Pinned to my noticeboard are my press tags, which I collect when we go to various official events. I also have a political cartoon that my colleagues made when I left to become Europe correspondent in 2013.

How I unwind: If it’s been a crazy day, sometimes the team will go for a drink after work to relax. Usually I’ll try and go to the gym for half an hour before heading home to unwind and switch off. I talk about my day with my husband when I get home too. We try and cook together when we’re in the same city.

Dressing for work: Parliament is pretty formal so it’s high heels and corporate attire. I try to wear formal with a twist, like fabulous shoes or statement earrings. I like wearing New Zealand designers, especially when we’re working overseas – it’s satisfying to tell people a New Zealand brand name if they ask where it is from. Some clothes look good in real life but don’t work on TV so I’ve tried to work that out over the years.

Success is: Feeling satisfied that you’ve told a story well.

My relationship with money: My dad told me “money doesn’t make you happy but it gives you options” and I think that’s a good lesson.

My work rules: Trust your gut instinct, question the status quo, try to be pleasant and drink lots of water.

Coping with strength: I like to talk through a problem or incident, deal with it and move on.

How I deal with the ‘cult of busy’: I write a to-do list that sits on my desk. If something pops up I write a quick note so I can go back to it later. At the end of the day, I’ll check if there is anything urgent on the list or if it can wait till the morning. I also try and go into home-mode and out of editor-mode when I get home.

Inbox management: In the journalism world you have to keep on top of your inbox all the time. When news breaks, we have to react quickly. Weekends are generally quieter when most politicians leave Wellington and go back to their electorates.

The change I’d like to see in my industry: Women in leadership roles becoming more normal.

For more great reads, pick up your latest copy of NEXT magazine, on sale now.

Related stories