When Thomas Hubert and myself sit down for our virtual interview he is fresh from his own interview with Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue.

“He didn’t give too much away,” Thomas laughs, adding the minister kept his cards close to his chest.

Thomas’s name is synonymous with lifting the lid on the Kerry shares scandal and FOI’ing the competition watchdog, so I’m not surprised the minister was careful with his words.

Nevertheless, the interview Thomas writes has the trademark narrative flow and eye for detail that has made his work stand out in the world of agribusiness.

A native of France, he says as a child he was always peering over his father’s shoulder while he read the newspaper and went on to hone his own journalistic skills while studying a political science degree.

He spent one year of that degree in Dublin City University (DCU) where he met his future wife, and went on to report for the BBC in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Irish Farmers Journal and now The Currency, set up by renowned journalists Ian Kehoe and Tom Lyons.

Breaking stories

A particular story that stands out for Thomas is his work on the Kerry shares scandal while he was working with the Irish Farmers Journal.

“It was over Christmas when milk prices were on the floor and then farmers got a letter from the taxman saying they owed them thousands of euros,” he explains.

Thomas’s work uncovered that Revenue had set up an entire office and team of people to look specifically at how they could tax farmers who received shares from Kerry.

It was a phenomenal, long-running series that required a combination of analytical skills with the ability to explain a highly complex financial situation to hundreds of farmers.

“Without journalism nobody would ever have found out what was going on,” Thomas states simply.

Considering journalism

But for those people considering journalism he warns that it is not necessarily a straight career path.

“It is also not glamourous and for that one person you see on the TV news there are about 10 people behind the scenes who have worked on the story to make sure it was right.”

For the people who do persist, there is a sense of satisfaction that can’t be bought and access to political and industry figures that don’t come with normal jobs.

“I’ve been on trade missions with the Minister and Commissioner for Agriculture seeing how food is sold in places like China,” Thomas says. “You get to see behind the scenes and how the sector you’re covering works.”

With a merry twinkle in his eye, he adds that there is always a buzz in “putting out information that people were really hoping nobody would see”.

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