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Hannah MacInnes


Wouldn't it be nice to have a calling card for all the most interesting, successful and newsworthy people across the globe? Hannah has that card.

Formerly at Newsnight, she is now a freelance journalist, interviewer, moderator and podcast host, working principally for the How To Academy, which has seen her in conversation on stage with everyone from army generals to Russell Brand. Their weekly podcast might see her dissecting an analysis of Putin one week and exploring how to ignite creativity the next.

Hannah also chairs events at Literary Festivals like Hay and Cheltenham, writes print journalism and hosts the "#ACupOfTeaWith" monthly interview series and podcast with Good & Proper Tea, which gets authors as varied as William Boyd and Dolly Alderton discussing their new books over tea cocktails and crumpets. 

Why do you do what you do? 

I have always been very inquisitive and love the opportunity to hear and talk about - and get people talking about - a range of issues from politics to culture and everything in between.

Then there is the amazing opportunity this all provides to meet an extraordinary lot of people, to hear and read their stories or learn from their expertise and share this with others.

And I love the buzz of doing live events, much as I loved the buzz of live programming / broadcast.

What do you think helps make you good at what you do? 

I think this innate inquisitiveness combined with a real love and passion for it all - the reading, the conversation, and above all the people - is key. If you are truly excited everyday by what you do, I think that really shows. And it drives you.

I think also an understanding of the importance of performance is essential. No matter how appealing or interesting the subject matter, an audience / listener needs a presenter or interviewer to be animated, engaged and alive!

As to what my work has taught me - most people know it of course, but it really has reaffirmed for me, the extraordinary power of books and of reading. Distinctly opposed to glancing at brief posts on social media is the incredible feeling of coming to understand issues and ideas through the wealth of literature that - even in our fast paced digital age - continues to be published every day.

What I think I am saying is I’d like everyone to remember to read LONG and WIDE. Read things out your comfort zone, that challenge your views or take you into subjects you would not necessarily lean towards. It really is the most enriching thing.

What book or resource have you found most inspiring recently?

I recently read a book by journalist Bella Mackie called “Jog On”. It’s about how running saved her life after a divorce and years of suffering with mental health problems. It reminded me of something I feel pretty evangelical about - the power of exercise and the outdoors - for me that’s running and swimming in the wild (!) to entirely change and hugely boost your mood. It is the best of all medicines and it’s free and there in abundance.

I am not being sponsored (!) but I would also say the How To Academy’s website. The list of events are incredibly varied and it’s a great and stimulating way to spend a weekday evening that might be spent otherwise in front of Netflix. You can end up picking something not necessarily close to your usual interests which you will talk about for weeks - they can be immensely inspiring, challenge your way of thinking, make you feel a mini expert in a new subject or teach you a way to get better control over your life from starting a business, leadership skills or learning how to make decisions. Usually a book comes with the ticket too.

What are your plans or ambitions for the next 6 months?

Over the next six months I am looking to get two podcasts off the ground and to start my own. I want to do more writing, particularly written interviews and in a dream world I will take to the airwaves!

The HB community feels an invaluable way to meet new people to support and be supported by - to be introduced to new ways of thinking and through other members discover things that are going on such as events and initiatives that I might not otherwise have known about.

What's your morning routine?

Running is an essential part of my morning routine. Alone or with a friend (and often a whippet!). Especially as a freelancer with a haphazard routine - this is the non negotiable part of the day and it’s only really after that - and a shower (!) - that that I am able to settle down for the day's work with a pot of Good and Proper Jade Tips Green Tea.

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