From trainee reporter to co-founder of an independent newspaper, with stops as internet editor and chief sub-editor along the way.
I am now reinventing myself as a business mentor, life coach, designer, marketing consultant, leader and entrepreneur.
Tracey’s actual career path has been very different from the one she planned as a student at Spalding High School, which she was due to leave in 1992 after A-levels in History, English and Human Biology to go off to university to study criminology.
Although she enjoyed the history and English – both of which she still has a passion for – she was not a great student at A-level (she did well at GCSE level, but boys and having fun got in the way once Tracey turned 16) and even before she received her exam results she was looking for other options than carry on with education.
As is often the way, an opportunity presented itself at just the right time – a trainee position at the Spalding Guardian and Lincolnshire Free Press newspapers in Tracey’s home town.
She was lucky (talented!) enough to get the position out of quite a few hopefuls and Tracey was promptly sent off to the offices of the Peterborough Evening Telegraph where the then-EMAP diploma in journalism courses were based.
It was 20 week course, where trainees learned the basics of story structure, interview skills, court reporting and associated legal knowledge, as well as shorthand and the necessary skills to cover council meetings and turn any information into a readable, accurate story.
Afterwards followed two years of on-the-job training in Spalding, where Tracey honed her skills and found a liking for the more “human interest” side of the job. You could keep your court and council stories – she was much more interested (and good at) talking to people, building a rapport and getting and telling their stories.
After qualifying in 1994, Tracey moved to the Peterborough Evening Telegraph, and thrived in the fast-paced newsroom of a daily regional paper.
SheI soon bought a home in Peterborough and enjoyed the social side of the job with the close-knit news team and began to take on more responsibilities, including the title of health reporter.
A few years later the chance presented itself to join the sub-editing team, where Tracey learned new proofreading, page design and editing skills, as well as the ability to write attention grabbing headlines.
Tracey was one of the first to embrace the new worldwide web when The Evening Telegraph made a foray into its first website and around the turn of the millennium joined a newly-formed team as internet editor, rewriting newspaper content for the web and learning basic html and css.
The change of direction soon landed her a brief spell at EMAP, setting up websites for some of its golfing and walking magazine titles.
However, the job didn’t hold much appeal, particularly when the opportunity arose to return to the newsroom environment she loved as chief sub-editor of The Peterborough Evening Telegraph, leading a team of ten.
Management, leadership and responsibility were among the skills Tracey quickly learned, as well as the ability to see the big picture while taking care of the small details which ensure a large daily newspaper goes to print on time with as few mistakes as possible!
There she stayed for more than four years, during which time she developed a passion for design, leading the weekly production of a magazine-style women’s supplement and other special features.
The work was all-consuming and the days were long and eventually Tracey decided she needed to take a step back and when a writer/sub-editor role was advertised back in Spalding, it was time to move home.
As part of a smaller team she was involved in more design and editing work and was a key player in a number of organisational and system changes.
In 2008 Tracey left to have her first daughter and did not return to work, back at the Spalding Guardian and Lincs Free Press in a part-time reporter role, until her second daughter was eight months old in September 2010.
DEPUTY NEWS EDITOR
The following January Tracey returned full time as deputy news editor, helping the news editor to plan the weekly news content and manage a small team of reporters.
In autumn of 2011, news broke that redundancies were to be made and Tracey and the news editor were told they would most likely have to apply for one of a reduced number of reporter positions.
Neither were keen to do so, but both were also unclear about what other jobs would be available to them, particularly as Tracey was somewhat restricted by childcare arrangements which meant she was unable to travel far.
But a lunchtime “desperation” chat led to an inkling of an idea to start their own newspaper – and so the seeds of the Spalding and South Holland Voice were sown. To read the whole Spalding Voice Story – From Dream to Reality – click here.
Since it started in April 2014, as well as the writing, page design and sub-editing, Tracey and her three co-directors had to learn about business – writing plans, forecasting financials, renting premises, payroll, PAYE, contracts, as well as sorting out printing, distribution and managing a team.
Almost three years in and they are still on a steep learning curve. Now the team totals 12, including two full time reporters, a receptionist and four sales staff, and Tracey’s attention has turned to other ways of growing the business, including developing the parent company Rant Media, a design and marketing agency aimed at helping other small businesses write the next chapter in their success stories.
MENTOR, COACH, DESIGNER, LEADER, ENTREPRENEUR
She is still as enthusiastic as when she set out, but has developed new loves for advert design as well as management, marketing and business development, mentoring and life coaching.
Tracey is now looking forward to bringing other projects to fruition in the months and years ahead.
Tracey believes in honesty, fairness and respect in all aspects of her life. She wears her heart on her sleeve, sticks to her my guns, makes decisions, finds solutions and get things done. She is always striving to be the best she can be and to help others do the same.
It’s no surprise that all her years in journalism Tracey can tell a good story and drum up a design which speaks a thousand words. But what really lights her fire is empowering aspiring entrepreneurs to break down the barriers standing between them and success.
Tracey describes herself as a family-loving mad cat lady with a penchant for names beginning with K. She can often be found knee-deep in horse poo. She is a self-confessed TV box set binger with a weird nostalgia for literary kings, 80s rock gods and country and western crooners.