His way of writing inspires individuals to think about how passion and activism makes everything possible in life. Matthew Hirtes is a freelance writer based in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain from 2004 onwards. Since then, he has established himself as the only UK broadsheet journalist resident on Gran Canaria. Matthew covers the Canary Islands, Spanish mainland, and beyond for a wide range of travel publications. When he lived in the UK, where he was born and raised, Matthew was the deputy editor of the Official Chelsea FC Magazine, so moving abroad has resulted in a change of profession. Despite specializing in sports and travel writing, he is fascinated by politics. Which explains the focus of his debut for The Huffington Post.
An interest in political writing stems from his teenage years. “I went to school in a middle-class area of Nottingham. Most of my neighbours and fellow pupils were Tories. This was the 1980s when Conservative prime minister Margaret Thatcher took on the unions and won. One of the key battles was the Miners’ Strike with the majority of Nottinghamshire coal miners choosing to continue to work rather than strike in protest to planned pit closures. My response was to volunteer for my local Labour Party in 1987. This involved a lot of envelope licking and canvassing. One of my abiding memories is of being spat at by skinheads in Nottingham city-centre whilst escorting our candidate Alan Simpson. I don’t think Simpson dressing up as Thatcher helped. He would though, without my assistance, finally unseat his Tory rival in the Nottingham South constituency, the extravagantly-surnamed Martin Brando-Bravo, five years later”, Matthew recalls. This is what inspired him to work for positive journalism.
One of the key issues is sustainability. He enjoys being “edutained” by Canary Green blog posts and has even contributed himself. In addition, he has built up a good working relationship with the Lanzarote’s like-minded Eco Insider. The Canarians are considered the Australians of Europe and something they sadly share with those Down Under are forest fires which he has covered for The Correspondent. “On Twitter, I feel a responsibility to share stories from reputable sources, most recently about COVID-19. This medium is more reliable than the likes of WhatsApp, for example, where fake news is far more easily spread”, Matthew mentioned.
He’s also known as a published author. Going Local in Gran Canaria: How to Turn a Holiday Destination Into a Home came out in 2012. This covers everything from places to see on holiday to property advice to career opportunities.
Matthew have shared some thoughts around ‘How he sees journalism in the coming years’? – It’s a difficult one to call. The rise and rise of the Internet has democratized the journalism. However, I do believe that quality can deteriorate when you have a quantity overkill. Also bloggers are often a one-person team and don’t benefit from the sub-editing provided when you’re commissioned to write an article for a magazine, newspaper, or website. I’ve seen so many grammatical errors and spelling mistakes on blog posts, I’ve been tempted to offer my copy-editing services. Anyway, I digress. The continuing crisis will further strengthen the established press’ rediscovered popularity as they’re seen of more a trustworthy authority.
He would never knock journalism qualifications. After all, it’s a trade. Matthew does though ponder the extent to which one can label writing an art or craft. He read history at university. The biggest compliment he ever received from a professor was when he was told he wrote like a journalist. However, from an academic point of view, Matthew thinks that was meant as more of a criticism. His first lucky break came meeting Gavin Hills, his journalistic hero, by chance in a pub during boozy birthday celebrations. Hills was the epitome of responsible journalism, travelling the world to report on social issues. When the experienced writer offered to look over his writing, Matthew excitedly sent him some democratized journalism. Hills’ reply came on a postcard from Nicaragua: “You’ve got something, Matthew, but you’ve got to work on your hooks; your opening and endings have to ensnare readers.” Invaluable advice which has stood the test of time.
Matthew loves to keep up to date with current trends in socialist policies. His role models are those who use social media as a platform for positive change. Matthew supports like-minded artists who want to make a difference.