Jaimie Kaffash, news editor at Pulse and healthcare specialist Cogora, tells Gorkana about his award-winning team, life working on a public sector trade publication and his drive to source exclusive stories.
The Pulse news team won ‘Best Section Team – Business’ at this month’s BSME Rising Stars Awards. What is special about the team?
The reporters all understand news, and what makes a great story. They are all experts in their patches, and frequently find out what is happening with GPs before the British Medical Association does, for example.
We also have a great blend in the team. Whether that be sheer tenacity to get a story as if their life depended on it, building watertight, important investigations or finding superb stories from the most mundane of sources, such as board papers or excel spreadsheets.
What makes a great story or piece of content for Pulse?
Exclusives. We aim for around one exclusive a day. But they must also be important for our readers – it’s all very well finding a story no-one else has, but if it is not of interest to our readers, it is pointless.
For me, there are two types of exclusives – there is beating our rivals to get a story before anyone else, which is always a good feeling. This could be pre-empting an NHS England announcement, or being leaked a report that the authorities did not yet want made public.
But by far the best exclusives are stories that would not have come to light were it not for us. These could be investigations, where we have data showing trends – such as the NHS spending money on holiday homes for patients, or commissioners cutting mental health budgets. They could also be a controversial scheme being buried in board papers, such as when we revealed that GPs were being paid to cut the number of urgent cancer referrals they made.
How is the Pulse team set-up? How do you find news stories?
There are three reporters and me in the news team, although we have help from other members of the features and digital team.
We do write on-diary news, and the reporters are well on top of this (most of the time!).
But again, our big stories are exclusives, and there are a number of sources for this. I tend to find that the more mundane the source (ie, long reports, larger spreadsheets, etc), the less likely other journalists are to plough through them.
How did your background in finance journalism prepare you for your role at Pulse?
They are very different roles. In finance, and other private sector publications, your contacts are desperate to get their name publicised and become known as experts in the field to generate more business. They are also happy to give you negative info about rivals! As a result, you can generate exclusives easily from building up contacts and getting involved in the industry gossip.
In public sector trade publications, people are far more hesitant – the motivation to generate business simply doesn’t exist. Indeed, for the public bodies, many stories are negative, and it can become a case of fire-fighting for PRs.
That said, it has really helped me (and our chief reporter, Sofia Lind, who worked for Legal Week) to have experience of both – being able to bring some of this contacts-based journalism into public sector issues.
Jaimie was talking to Gorkana’s Emily Andrews