Image: Patrícia Lobo/ Flickr/ Dating
Image: Patrícia Lobo/ Flickr

What’s it like to date a journalist? Cara Laskaris and Cameron Henderson talk to people who have experienced life as a journalist’s other half.

You made it. You’re a journalist, living the dream (ish). But do you ever feel that people outside the industry just don’t get it? You may be brimming with anecdotes, but do unsociable hours and work pressures ever leave you feeling ‘undateable’?

XCityPlus hears the stories of two non-journalists – the first: a cautionary tale; the second: an enduring romance – to get their advice on the perks and pitfalls of dating a journalist.


Dating a journalist was a nightmare – I’m not sure I could do it again!

Melanie Owen, 24, was working for a politician in Cardiff when she dated a political broadcast journalist in 2017. They broke up six months later.

We met at a party conference and just hit it off. But because my job came first and his job came first, there was a lot of distrust there. 

When you’re in a relationship you want to tell them what’s gone on with your day, but I always thought: ‘can I say this?’ If he asked me questions, I’d think: ‘Is he digging for a story, or is he just interested in my day?’ 

“It made me ask a lot of questions internally and would hold me back from dating a journalist again”

My boss was a cabinet minister and a couple of people at work knew I was dating a journalist, so if anything got into the press about our boss they would have wondered if it was my fault. It probably wasn’t fair, because I don’t think he would have taken advantage of our relationship, but I just couldn’t take that risk – I was always holding back.

I’m normally attracted to guys who are very caring, so sometimes it was disconcerting to see his complete lack of emotional connection with a scenario. If something was happening in the news, his job was to report it rather than help. 

The lack of empathy was really alarming to me. That’s probably what made him a good journalist, because I’d be a terrible journalist on that basis, but for me it was disconcerting. It made me wonder: ‘If we broke up would you be completely ruthless? Or if something happened would you not have any empathy for me?’ It made me ask a lot of questions internally and would hold me back from dating a journalist again.


Image: Donna Ferguson/ Dating
Donna and her husband on their wedding day, and not a news app in sight. Image: Donna Ferguson


Dating a journalist led to 10 years (and counting) of happy marriage

Neil Ferguson, 41, is married to Donna Ferguson, 39, an award-winning freelance journalist for The Guardian and other UK national newspapers. They have been together for 17 years and live in Cambridge with their nine-year-old daughter, Flora. 

We met in a really, really crappy pub next to Waterloo station in 2003. Donna had just started her first job in journalism; I was working as a computer programmer.

The best thing about being married to a journalist is that we are never stuck for something to talk about. When people ask me about my work it’s quite technical so I can’t really explain it. But if I ask Donna what she’s working on, she’s always doing something interesting. It really feels like she’s part of what’s going on in the world.

“Being married to Donna has made me appreciate how hard journalists work and how difficult it is to be a good one”

Soon after our daughter was born Donna went freelance. Working from home allowed her a lot more flexibility to work around what Flora needed. 

I’ve also been working from home for the past year, so Donna and I are together all day. It actually works really well. We can’t be in the same room, though: Donna’s on the phone all the time as a journalist, and that would drive me mad. We’re renovating our house at the moment and I said to the builder: ‘I want as much insulation in the wall between us as possible’.

I can’t say I’ve ever caught the journalism bug off my wife, though I really admire what she does. Being married to Donna has made me appreciate how hard journalists work and how difficult it is to be a good one. I don’t think I could do it. 

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