Interview / Politics

Reporting the Nordics: Maddy Savage

Now reporting for various organisations, and the de fato BBC Sweden Correspondent, freelance journalist MADDY SAVAGE moved to Stockholm in 2014. Maddy also hosted three seasons of The Stockholmer podcast, showcasing inspiring entrepreneurs, and moderated panel discussions at some of Europe’s most prominent tech and media events...

How did your interest start?

I was a journalism geek from an early age! I did all the work experience you’re supposed to tick off, from the school magazine to the student newspaper/radio. I studied in Cambridge, then did a Master’s in Cardiff. Radio is my passion… describing events to people. I don’t really like being on camera, though I’m told I’m good at it. Working as a freelancer now though – particularly for the BBC – I’m lucky to work across print, radio and television. Sweden is the sort of patch where, dependent on the news cycle, you have freedom to pitch your own stories.

How did your career start?

My first job was at BBC Radio Cambridgeshire. I was the early morning reporter so I drove around in a big car with an aerial, interviewing farmers about their crops and holes in the road… the classic local radio stuff! Then I got a job with Newsbeat, reporting for BBC Radio 1 and 1Xtra on stories that interest under-30s. From that, I went on to have a ten-year career at the BBC, working as a presenter on the BBC World Service and a reporter for various parts of the organisation.

Why did you move to the Nordics?

A job came up as editor of The Local Sweden. I did that job for a year and a half, and I found there was loads of demand for freelance work on the side. In 2016 I took the plunge away from management and back to reporting, and I’m coming up for my fifth anniversary as a freelancer. I always had an inkling to go abroad. I’d gone for various postings and was curious about why there wasn’t a correspondent in Sweden. I tried to persuade bosses to create the position but they worried there wasn’t enough money or demand. Since I’ve gone freelance, however, I’ve sort of created the role myself! I send reports for the BBC’s From Our Own Correspondent and I’m regularly called a correspondent on air. I’ve reported for everything from the News at 6 to the Today programme, and I also do work for BBC Travel and BBC Worklife.

What’s the biggest story you’ve covered here?

For a place I was told there wouldn’t be much news, there’s certainly been a lot… from suspected Russian submarines in Swedish waters back in 2014 to the murder of Kim Wall in 2017. That story was one of the toughest. Kim Wall was also in her thirties, and also a freelance journalist. I was on air from 6am to 9pm providing commentary for the rolling BBC News channel, hits for BBC Radio 5 Live and filing copy for the website, so I didn’t really have time to process during the day. Once the story ended, I had time to reflect on the gravity of it, and I’ve continued to support the Kim Wall Memorial Fund.

MADDY SAVAGE is a freelance journalist, reporting for organisations including the BBC and The Times.

This article is a Fika Online exclusive.

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