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Alumni Q&A: Tim Hume

12 April 2023

Tim Hume is a London-based reporter for VICE World News covering extremism, migration, and politics in Europe. He is also the host of Decade of Hate, a VICE series of short documentaries covering the far-right in Europe.


Did you always know you wanted to be a journalist? Can you tell us about your career path so far since graduating from UC?

By the time I was in high school, I’d figured out that journalism might be a pretty good fit. Although I probably only had a hazy notion of what the realities of it would entail, I was attracted by the idea of a job that would give you license to insert yourself into the thick of whatever was going on, to try to make sense of it all and write about it. Sounds great, right? Despite all the stuff I was pretty clueless about going in, that core appeal has actually proven to be more or less on the money, and the reason I keep doing this.

After graduating with a BA, I spent a couple of years in Tokyo teaching English, then came back to do a graduate diploma at the UC journalism school. I worked in New Zealand newspapers: The Press, then The Sunday Star-Times, picking up a masters in journalism in the US, enabled by a Fulbright scholarship, along the way. I moved to London 12 years ago, working mostly for CNN, with a detour of a couple of years in their Hong Kong newsroom, before joining VICE News in London in 2016.

You say your areas of focus in your reporting are extremism and conspiracist movements – potentially some of the heaviest of topics! What is it that motivates you to tell these stories in particular?

I’ve always been drawn to stories about the margins of human experience, and that’s something I’ve had no shortage of opportunities to do in my current role. 

Earlier in my career, you could question, with some validity, whether giving fringe, extremist subjects attention was necessarily warranted or newsworthy. But obviously, something’s shifted dramatically in the world in the past eight years or so. We’re living in an age of radical polarisation, with hateful ideologies and conspiracy theories running rampant, posing a threat to society in a way that would’ve been unimaginable not so long ago. 

It can be exhausting and dispiriting to cover day in, day out, but at the same time, the need for journalism has never felt more pressing. I’m under no illusions that I’m anything other than a tiny voice in the scheme of things, but it feels like a worthwhile use of my time.

What piece of work are you most proud of producing?

Tough question. Looking back on my days in New Zealand, there are stories that stick with me: profiles of the short, tragic life of a cult indie musician, or the long, strange life of a veteran gang leader; or an investigation into an academic affiliated with the abusive Centrepoint commune.

More recently, it’s been rewarding to plunge into a totally new medium with the launch of “Decade of Hate,” a VICE series of video reports about the far-right, which has brought our reporting on extremism to new audiences online. And earlier this year, I was part of a team that broke stories about criminal investigations into the notorious “manosphere” influencer Andrew Tate, which seemed to have an impact.

What advice would you give to a journalism grad looking to follow a path like yours?

First off: go in with your eyes open. The industry has been lurching from one crisis to the next virtually my whole career: newsroom closures and mass layoffs are, sadly, just part of the deal. And if you thought the job security sounds great, wait till you hear about the pay.

If that doesn’t faze you, then you’re here for the right reasons. Get stuck in; maybe you can turn this thing around! The need for strong, impartial reporting in a world of weaponised misinformation and a roiling culture war has never been more vital, and I have no doubt that recent graduates will be able to find their footing in the shifting media landscape better than I ever could. My advice would be to stay focused on reporting on what is actually happening in the world, rather than adding to the pile of hot takes and opinions that nobody asked for: one of the paradoxes of the Internet age is that, while we live in a world oversaturated in “content,” reporting feels in increasingly short supply. Take risks, push yourself, but always respect the lives of people your reporting is impacting. It can really be one of the best jobs in the world; it’s certainly hard for me to imagine doing anything else.

To take a break from the tough subject matter, what do you like to get up in London outside of work?

I’m a father to a couple of boys under 5, which has a pretty defining influence on my lifestyle. Lots of parks, playgrounds, museums and galleries, (kid-friendly) pubs, the occasional city break. Actually, away from the kids, it’s not all that different, aside from the playgrounds. We love it here.

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