UPDATED :From Portakabins to porn scandals : Sunday Express boss recounts his career journey

Stephen Rigley, deputy editor of the Sunday Express and ex Leeds Trinity

Stephen Rigley, deputy editor of the Sunday Express and ex Leeds Trinity

by Emma Kirwan

The acting deputy editor of the Sunday Express said it appears that their readers would rather “eat their shoes than support Ed Miliband” in the general election.

Stephen Rigley,41, now acting deputy editor of the Sunday Express, was one of the eight people who came on the print course at Leeds Trinity in 1996.

He said “I remember I was fresh faced and thinking about the future. Today all the memories have come flooding back.”

Since graduating 20 years ago Stephen has been breaking major stories such as Euro ’96, and the MPs’ expenses scandal in 2009.

He recalls that one of his best moments as news editor of the Sunday Express was running the story that Jacqui Smith’s husband had claimed porn films on his wife’s expenses.

Stephen said: “I’ve always got a lot of satisfaction in breaking stories and I still do even after twenty years in the game.”

With the general election coming up on May 7, students questioned Stephen on the political stance of the Sunday Express.

He said: “It is a difficult one to call, traditionally it has been the Conservatives but I think there is still a long way to go. After receiving letters from our readers it appears that they would rather eat their shoes rather than support Ed Miliband. They dread the thought it would be him.”

Stephen also told students how the “the industry is evolving” and stressed that “It is important to listen to your readers now more than ever, Leveson has changed things, things that are essential to journalism but I think the central confidence of journalism is slowly coming back.”

Stephen worked on regional newspapers after graduating, before heading to Fleet Street where he worked on newsdesks of three leading national newspapers before news editing the Sunday Express for eight years.

He said the biggest challenge of working for a Sunday paper is “keeping your story secret until the end of the week.”

Stephen told young journalists: “I honestly believe that no matter what medium you’re working on, journalists still need the basic skill of storytelling. So rather than changing your skill set you have to add to them. Sometimes these days the paper is almost third on the list, after Twitter and online.

“Despite all the technology, old fashioned storytelling is still the benchmark of it all. Journalism is just about telling stories people want to hear.”

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