CV / SARAH SANDS Deputy editor, Telegraph

In the early Eighties, I did an English and drama course at Goldsmiths, and while I was there I tried running a theatre company. But when I talked to the casting director about joining her as an assistant, she said to me: "But you love stories - you ought to be a journalist." I'm the worst nosy neighbour - if there's a lot of people standing on the pavement looking at something I'm the always first to go and see what's going on - but I hadn't thought of journalism until then.

I managed to scrape on to a newspaper course, doing my indentures on a local newspaper in Kent called the Sevenoaks Chronicle. On my first day there I was asked to check out a fire, so I dialled the number, asked "Has there been a fire?" and was told "yes" - after which I said "Thank you very much" and put the phone down. I really had a lot to learn.

But local newspapers are terrific places: the camaraderie is good, and you are trained to do lots of different things. And I got one great scoop, through meeting someone in a pub who worked on The Selina Scott Show, about how Selina's co-presenter kept copying Selina's wardrobe, and I think I made my entire year's salary by selling that story to the Daily Star.

Then, in 1986, when I was 25, I joined Londoners' Diary, on the London Evening Standard. Richard Addis, now at the Express, was my editor, and Peter McKay, a terrible old rogue, was brought in to train me. It was an inauspicious beginning: I went out for some drinks with some old Fleet Street lags at the end of my first day, fell down a big flight of stairs, and went to hospital with concussion.

The diary gives you a very good knowledge of who's who and what's what, and access, which is everything - a lot of stories I've got since have been through old diary contacts. I was always good at getting quotes and wheezes. Londoners' Diary had a reputation for employing a lot of well connected people and I had no connections, but that made it easier for me, because other people would often be asked to phone someone and would turn white, because that someone was their uncle, say.

And I was lucky to have some really strong personalities to learn from during my time at Associated Newspapers. When Stewart Steven was editor of the Standard, he waged a campaign about London hospitals, which I said was boring. But he said that if you want to be a convincing paper you must believe in things - even though it might be going against the grain or that you might risk looking obsessive - and he was absolutely right. And from Paul Dacre, I learned that if you don't get a story you should really feel sick about it - that, though it's not a matter of life or death, you've got to do your absolute best.

Although I've always worked under men, my being a woman has never really been an issue. When I first joined Londoners' Diary I had a small child and was asked whether that would get in the way, but other than that it hasn't been mentioned. All I would say is that I think occasionally men in newspapers are threatened by women breaking down the hierarchy. On the Standard men were very attached to status symbols like offices and cars and having the right size televisions in their offices, and I remember, when I was heavily pregnant, sitting in somebody else's chair at conference one morning and seeing the man whose chair it was go blue in the face.

I've always been incredibly happy in every job I've done, and have never particularly wanted to move. But when Richard Addis became features editor of the Standard I was bumped up to diary editor, and then, when he went to the Sunday Telegraph, I was made features editor. I then became executive editor, and then associate editor, before coming to the Telegraph in late 1995.

I wasn't traditional Telegraph material - I imagine some of its distinguished former leader writers would turn in their graves at the thought of some former diarist madam turning up here - but I don't feel the least bit gippy about it now. The challenge now at the Telegraph is keeping ahead: it's the market leader, and has managed to beat off The Times, but you can never be complacentn

Interview by Scott Hughes

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Legal Recruitment Consultant

Highly Competitive Salary + Commission: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL BASED - DEALING ...

Digital Project Manager / Web Project Manager

£45-50k (DOE) + Bonus & Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced ...

Account Manager

£30 - 35k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking an Account Manager to join ...

Social Advertising Manager / Social Media Manager

£Excellent + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Social Advertising Manager / Social Med...

Day In a Page

Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

But could his predictions of war do the same?
Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

Young at hort

Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

Beyond a joke

Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

A wild night out

Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve
Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition: It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans

Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition

It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans
Besiktas vs Arsenal: Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie

Besiktas vs Arsenal

Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie
Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

As the Northern Irishman prepares for the Barclays, he finds time to appear on TV in the States, where he’s now such a global superstar that he needs no introduction
Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to Formula One

Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to F1

The 16-year-old will become the sport’s youngest-ever driver when he makes his debut for Toro Rosso next season
Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

But belated attempts to unite will be to no avail if the Sunni caliphate remains strong in Syria, says Patrick Cockburn
Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I would end up killing myself in jail'

Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I'd end up killing myself in jail'

Following last week's report on prison suicides, the former inmate asks how much progress we have made in the 50 years since the abolition of capital punishment