“ Journalists are persons who gather and disseminate information about current events, trends, issues and people. Reporters are one type of journalist. They create reports as a profession for broadcast or publication in mass media such as newspapers, television, radio, magazines, documentary film, and the Internet. Reporters find the sources for their work, their reports can be either spoken or written, and they are generally expected to report in the most objective and unbiased way to serve the public good. „
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I am 24 years old and I have been working in magazine journalism for two years now. I know I am very early on in my career, but I'd really like to share my experiences, because in retrospect there are a few things that I wish I'd known when I was pursuing my 'dream job.'
Heading into journalism wasn't a decision I took lightly, it's an industry I have aspired to work in since an early age. I remember the exact moment I developed an interest in the media - I was eight years old, living in a three bedroom, detached home in the suburbs of Manchester. Our house was situated on an ordinary, working-class housing estate and things were very quiet. Then something surprising happened - a world class football player moved in across the road - welcome King Cantona.
As a neighbour Eric slotted in really well, sometimes he'd even play football on the local field with the children on the street. But one morning everything changed - the morning after that infamous kung-fu kick. I remember when I heard the news, I was in total disbelief - my idol might never play football again.
I went to school as usual that day and when I returned home the street was literally awash with news reporters and cameramen. From the next six months my street became a media frenzy, journalists constantly blocked our driveways, my Dad would make us play "spot our satellite dish" in the daily papers and TV crews came to film outside the house. As a young girl I was completely fascinated by the hustle and the bustle; and watching the journalists dig for that all important exclusive. That's when I decided, I was going to be a journalist when I grew up.
Having certainty about what I wanted to do at such a young age really inspired me. I used to watch the news constantly - I developed something of a fascination with Kate Adie and I started to write short stories for teen magazines. I also entered any writing cometition I saw advertised and at 13 I won a cometition to write for the now-defunct EMAP magazine J17. I was able to go down to London and see how the magazine was put together, as well as having a photographer meet me in Manchester while I conducted interviews on behalf of the magazine.
As the years went on I continued to structure my exam choices to fit in with the journalism dream. I chose A Levels in English Literature, Psychology and Theatre Studies. I don't regret these choices and I don't think they have hindered me in anyway.
After college I headed to Bangor University where I studied English Literature with Journalism. In retrospect I don't think this was the best degree choice and if you are currently looking for a degree course to study then I would advise you choose a course that is National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ) accredited.
While at university I got involved with the student newspaper and radio station and I also completed a month's work experience with BBC News. I loved being in a regional news room, I got an amazing buzz from it and a real insight into what being a news journalist is all about.
It is very difficult for most people to get their "first break" into the media world and I got incredibly lucky. After university, to make ends meet, I started working for a magazine publishing company - as a media sales executive (which was a God awful job). Before long I was writing bits and pieces for the magazine because they were short staffed in the editorial department. Then things completely snowballed.
I will always remember the meeting I had with the editorial director - he asked me what made a sales person think they could hack it in journalism - to which I replied "It's all I've ever wanted to do. Take a look at my CV."
After analysing my CV for a few minutes he told me he was going to give me a shot - I haven't looked back since.
The way I got into the industry was extremely lucky and completely unconventional - my colleagues still jest with me about it now, but I got my chance and that's what counts.
Sometimes the pressure within this job is immense and you have to constantly think on your feet, but those are aspects I love.
Although the pay is relatively low, there are perks to be had - PR firms have been known to throw the odd freebee in our direction! Although there has been a decline in the number of freebees since the recession hit.
Two years down the line I am still developing - by studying for an NCTJ qualification. I am working towards this independently, which costs around £400. The subjects covered include media law, local and central government, shorthand (100wpm) and writing skills. It is challenging working towards this alone, but I have the full support of my colleagues and I'm determined to achieve the qualification.
I do sometimes wonder where I will go from here and what the future holds, I'm also aware that there isn't any real money within the industry, but at the moment I have a job that I love, so I'm not complaining.
I'm not an expert by any stretch of the imagination, but my advice to anybody wanting to get into journalism is to get as much experience as possible and don't be put off by the current economic climate.
For me, nothing quite beats asking a local politician a really important question, writing a cracking headline, or bagging an exclusive news item. I just wonder where I'd be working if King Cantona hadn't moved in across the road!
"Journalism in general"? An interesting subject, especially as it's under the 'study courses' sub-heading...so here I'll give you a bit of an insight into both the studying side of things, and the professional side of things. You lucky, lucky people.
I studied a Broadcast Journalism degree that was Broadcast Journalism Training Council accredited. This is most important as this defines a degree that teaches the exact things you need for a career in journalism and is recognised by a professional body. Many job vacancies will state applicants will need a "BJTC-accredited degree" so when you're stepping into the degree application process, make sure those four letters are present.
My degree taught me a host of things, from learning how to operate a number of different cameras to writing for radio. To explain this further, this means how to write 'copy' (as the journalists call it) for a radio audience - being concise but informative and explaining everything that's important, while all at the same time sounding interesting. The same thing applies for television. Obviously with TV you have the advantage of pictures so the style of writing does differ between the two mediums. You also get taught the skills on how to create TV and radio packages. These will include interviews, often vox-pops from members of the public and as I'm sure you're all aware, explain a news stories or describe a case study in a journalistic way.
But was it all worthwhile?? Well, I do now work for a talk-radio station, which means the majority of the output is journalism-based so I'm required to have an awareness of things such as media law - this is essential for knowing for can and can't be broadcast. This includes things such as defamatory statements, contempt of court, avoiding bias during an election, and copyright laws for example. It's quite a considerable area to know thoroughly, but you're university course should teach you the ins and outs.
As a career, many people see journalism as a risky business, but one that can ultimately be glamorous. The vast majority of journalists will never will a glamorous lifestyle though. Most will just read the news or report for local tin-pot radio stations (something which I despise, despite many people's wish to save and maintain local radio). It can often be boring and the news stories you're reporting will have little impact in the grand scheme of things. Of course, all journalists don't want to be doing that for their entire career and will look to progress. But as you can imagine only a few will ever get to report from war-torn countries, or be there to report on the moments that people 'remember where they were' when it happened. It's a competitive business...and unfortunately it's also a career path where it helps on 'who you know, not what you know'.
The pay is never great either. Working for local tin-pot radio stations around the country will pay no better than working in your local supermarket. This may seem staggering as journalists are an important commodity to keep people informed, but unfortunately there's no money in journalism because quite simply you cannot sponsor the news. It's against broadcasting laws for the news to be 'sponsored' or 'in association' with a certain brand, as it would be biased, especially if a news story broke about that company or brand for example. It's fine to sponsor travel, weather and sport, but never the main news bulletin. This results in less money circulate around the industry and therefore the wages cannot be as lucrative as other career paths.
I remember one of the reasons I wanted to take this career path as a youngster was getting home from school one day and being glued to the TV screen as a massive news story broke and thinking how cool it would be to be the person relaying this message to the mass public. This massive news story happened to be 9/11, so it's fair to say there'll rarely ever be a bigger news story than that again. But the ability to inform people about stories that affect millions is a skill to be able to do it well.
Of course, if you're good enough and committed enough then one day you'll reach a level that you're happy with, but many will give up on that goal. A journalism degree can stretch to other fields such as marketing and PR as you need exceptional communication skills and the ability to make something concise but deliver the message to the best possible degree. I'm still young so time is on my side...but I'm also after a bit more money, and as you can imagine, marketing and PR are far more lucrative!
Right, as many of you know, I am a freelance broadcast journalist. So I thought I would pass on what I've learned to you. Most people think of journalists as working for the papers, well lots don't. I have worked for various radio stations in the past three years. My Career (so far) I started out when I was seventeen - that's young I hear you cry. Yes it was. I'd left my sixth form because I was desparately unhappy there and needed something to do. I wanted to become a TV presenter and thought radio would be a way in. So I approached my local station and asked for work experience. After a couple of weeks there, they asked me if I would be prepared to take over the running of the news desk whilst the editor was on paternity leave - which could happen at any minute. Of course I said yes and then put in around 14 hours a day to learn all of the procedures inside out. When the time came, I ran the section for two weeks and had no problems. After that I was the regular Sunday journo and cover worker, as well as volunteering my time for around 11 hours a day five days a week! I was really the unofficial assistant editor! Then I moved on to get a three month contract with a different station, helped out on a few RSLs - temporary radio stations - where I am now editor and I now freelance for Splash Fm in Worthing on a regular basis. I also help out free of charge a tthe moment with BBC Southern Counties Radio and am gaining experience at Radio 1. What Do You Need to Be a Journalist? I had no formal journalism qualifications, but that doesn't really seemed to have effected me too much. I would recommend you get qualified though as a few places have turned me down on that basis. Any Other Qualities Needed? Lots of determination and enthusiasm. Without these you might as well forget this as a career. Why Radio? It's lots of fun. Having looked into p
rint journalism, I think in a way, radio is more relaxed. the stories you write are shorter, punchier and you get to be on the air if you're the reader too. What's Required of You? You will find yourslef being on call 24/7 as the news doesn't sleep. Being a journalist will mean working long and irregular hours and probably on quite a low pay. Obviously you will be expected to be hard working and have an ability to spot a good story. You will also be required to interview people from all walks of life from celebrities to people on the street. What Ways Are There to Get In? Work experience is great! You can learn near enough every area of how the station works from the "trafficing" of adverts, to news, to production, to presenting. Once you're in, offer to help whenever you can. Commercial radio is generally short of money and will welcome free labour. And once you've got all the experience you need, you can go elsewhere and get paid. RSL's These are temporary radio stations that run for a maxiumum of 28 days. These are a great way to get experiece. The radio authority's website www.ofcom.org.uk will give you a list of which ones are in the pipeline. Most of these are run by volunteers so you are bound to be welcomed. Hospital Radio This one's OK but some places do look down on it. You have to make a donation to join one of these stations, as they're all charities. These are a good place to work on your voice and to produce a good demo tape to send to people. It also doesn't matter if you make a mistake here. Most people do it for a hobby and it's only broadcast to the people within the hospital. Community Radio Another voluntary one. It's broadcast to a larger audience and is a permanent feature to the town. Again look at the radio authority's website. Be Prepared Rejection is bound to happen. Don't be discouraged by it, inst
ead learn from it. The commercial sector can be very cut throat. You could be stabbed in the back I know several people this has happened to. Your Demo Most people prefer this to be on cassette. This is because they listen to them in the car on their way to and from work. Record yourself doing a bulletin, somewhere between 1 and 2 minutes long. Take the trouble to find out the name of the editor you're sending it to. This shows you've done your research and will go in your favour. Add a cover note. Keep it brief. Just say which position you're applying for, or that you're a freelancer, whichever it is. Don't be too formal, but then don't be too pally either. Find a happy medium. If you're applying for work experience, NEVER say I'm great at making tea! They'll reject you instantly Your CV should include employment history, and your education, inlcuding qualifications. They're not too bothered about your hobbies so I wouldn't bother with them. My Advice to You > Be prepared to work for nothing. I did for a long time and although it can seem despressing, it will pay off. > Be the "yes man". You will be expected to do all the rubbish jobs like sending the mail and making the tea. Again this shows you're willing and will go in your favour. >Except every oportunity to learn. I did a bungee jump when I was training because that's what the story involved. >Don't take critism badly. Most of the time it will be constructive. Listen to it and learn. >Don't moan. No one likes to hear people whinging. If you've got issues, take them home and let them out there. >By all means do a media and law course, especially if you want to be a journalist. I have been turned down from jobs because I don't have them. So I've gone back to college at the age of 20 to get a journo qualification. <
br> >Be persistant. If you get turned down, keep bugging them. I was once told I got on well because I "shouted the loudest" and so got heard. A Word of Warning Whilst working in radio is great fun, it's not all a bed of roses! The hours can be long, irregular and very hard. You will constanly be working and if you're a reporter, you're on call 24/7. I once did a 33 hour shift without a break. The money isn't very great either. Unless you get in a big station in London, you'll probably struggle to make £60 a day. Over All... Basically, if you like being on the go all the time and like a bit of pressure then journalism should really appeal to you, especially if you like writing stories too. If you decide to go for it good luck and keep pestering! Someone will take you on in the end. I had to take time out and take another job because of the lack of work I had, but i'm ok again now. If you want any personal advice, feel free to drop me an email and I'll help out where I can.
I want to talk about my career. Now is as good as time as any with so much attention being paid to the journalists, and rightly so, as some are even giving their lives to bring the public ?the story?. People need to remember that journalists are always working; in war and peace, day and night, in the hot and cold to deliver the story, even when the reporting isn?t so dramatic and exciting, it is still important. Incidentally I first was inspired to be a journalist during the last great made for TV war, the Gulf War. I was a junior in college and I was going to be a Math Teacher. I had done most of my student teaching and needed only a few more classes to be a certified teacher. Then I was Bernard and Peter, risking their lives to report as bombs tore apart Baghdad. I knew right then that I was going to go into journalism. I began immediately by going home to my small town and showing up at the local newspaper, circulation 7800, in my best suit of clothes and selling myself as a beat reporter. The editor must have been very impressed with me because he gave me a very important job, so important that I am still doing it 10 years later. So I must have had my act together to land this job with no journalism training. The job he gave me was ?Feature Reporter? for the outlaying areas outside of town. I was to write human interest stories on various events taking place in the townships and surrounding towns, report events and interview people. My pieces would run every day and sometimes I would have up to seven stories in a single edition of the newspaper. I still remember my first story that was published. It was about a disabled Vietnam veteran and his views on the Gulf War. I remember getting him to pose with a map from National Geographic and a serial portrait we morphed on the computer of Hitler and Saddam Hussein. ?That man is another Hitler, says Vietnam Veteran? was the title of the piece. I was so proud of the article and the pic
tures. I am not supposed to take pictures any more. There were some complaints about me when I was covering the girls middle school volleyball tournament so my editor says he will not pay for my film and development costing but If I buy my own film and pay to get them developed that he will give me $6 per column inch of print. I basically get a schedule every month of what stories I need to do. Like there are 10 markets that we cover and I am supposed to get one ?good neighbor? story from each zone, usually something about somebody volunteering, or being a war hero, or finding long lost relatives. Then there is supposed to be at least three hobby articles from the area, usually about some asshole restoring a car, a woman making decorations out of recyclables, or someone designing their own wedding gown. Then I am supposed to do one teen interest story and two business stories, where we go in a profile a local business owner and get them to misquote Peter Drucker. I secretly keep all these stories on file because I always ask the question ?What qualities do you possess that will help you make your business succeed. And then when their business fails, which 80% do in the first two years, I send them the copy of their newspaper interview and write ?Ha, Ha, Ha? really big over their smug words. I am just good at exposing buffoons and pompous self aggrandizing idiots. I can usually get any small town bloke to pose carrying himself like the King of The World. I don?t make very much money at all. I get about $340 per week and then I get paid 31 cents per mile that I drive my car. Since the car is a 1991 Saturn that my dad gave me you would think that I am making out like crazy on this but I am not. I have been caught cheating so many times and accused even more often than that so I end up claiming substantially less miles that what I am entitled to. I will be honest, it is hard to get a woman into bed on $340 per week before taxes. That may be pa
rt of the reason I am eager to use and abuse my position to attack people that are monetarily more successful than me. But I do have good side benefits. I don?t have health insurance or a pension plan as I am considered an independent contractor. But I can sometimes get free tickets to the High School drama clubs productions like ?Oklahoma? every year and I get to drop in on lots of events and take pictures and graze on their buffets. If I am ever hungry for a good meal I just show up at a wedding reception and take some pictures with my empty camera so it just flashes and show off my press pass and tell the Brides father that I am doing a piece on weddings and heard that he is going was overboard with the wedding he is giving his daughter. I flatter them awhile and get a free meal. I lost my good press pass when one of Avril Lavigne?s goons violently removed me from the back stage area because my pants accidently fell down when I saw her and I didn?t have underpants on. There?s actually a lot more to that story that I don?t feel like getting into right now. I sometimes am able to hustle some money out of other people. I have a few people that are news junkies who give me money to quote them in the newspaper. They give me $20 to put their picture in the paper with my ?man in the Street columns?. I also made some serious money last year from a local pimp by doing an expose on his business. I did an undercover assignment about the local brothel and lied and said he had all these hot eastern European sex slaves working there. I got a few freebies and then he gave me two thousand dollars as his business went up astronomically after I wrote a scathing piece about his brothel. I accused him of having underage girls from Singapore and Hungary. I guess when all the peope went to check it out and found toothless 40 year old crack fiends they still went through with the business. I do other unethical stuff too. I usually just do my scheduled assignments which is
not to say I don?t do other stories, I drive around all night long listening to the police channels on the radio. Nothing exciting like murders or race riots happens but one time a local politicians son got caught for vandalizing a house while drunk. So I called up one of his father?s rivals and I asked the guy what kind of spin he wanted me to put on the story. I told him for $500 I could make it unmistakable whose son we were talking about otherwise I would just protect their identity like is customary with juveniles. The guy tried to low ball me and pay me $300 so I made it pretty obvious who had done it. I have to be careful with the politicians. See my job is to cover city council meetings and township trustee meetings but usually I am the only person there, me and the council or board and maybe one or two citizens who show up to complain. The one meeting the one board member used the ?N? word on accident when he meant to say these?&*$# blacks? while I had my tape recorder on. I was able to trade him the tape for about $700 worth of automotive products since he had a business. usually if I write an article or two about different politicians they will write the articles for me so I don?t have to miss my TV shows to go to the meetings. A know a lot of people are probably developing strong negative feelings about me as a reporter but you get go to hell. I am the co-advisor for the high school newspaper and I always do the career day stuff about being a reporter. I will admit that I am living an unfulfilled life, I won?t deny that. Do you think I watched Peter and Bernard dodging cluster bombs in Baghdad and said, ?Wow in 10 years I want to be writing articles about the Green Creek Township women?s auxiliary Pie Auction?? Do you think I am happy watching embedded reporters on high tech digital rolling through Baghdad while I am polishing up an article on the Sulfur Smell coming from Turtle Creek and how the residents of Holiday drive feel about it? The cops let m
e go on a drug raid one time and I shit my pants when a guy shot a crossbow at me and the cops made me walk home and they wouldn?t let me sit in the cop car. That was my excitement. Right up there with writing articles every spring about visiting all the different Ice Cream shops asking them what new flavors and trends we will see this year. The one thing I enjoy every year is misdirecting all the people in town to buy their kids the wrong school clothes. I make up different shops and boutiques in Cleveland and forge a whole page piece on the hot new trends for back to school. And then all the people that listen to me end up being out of style. I know this is not a good job for a person like me to have and I am unhappy. But I drink and I have a lot of other problems. I know I get on Dooyoo and act like I am a real writer and a big shot but now you know the truth. Sorry.
The days when journalists could file their copy from the pub after a few pints of Olde Dogbolter and a scotch egg are gone. These days they're desk wallahs more likely to be glued to the phone than pounding the streets for their next splash. Churning is an essentail skill. There is still some fun to be had - press trips, freebies, unmasking scams and crooks, digging into big exclusives, covering demos and court, pricking the pompous - but it is becoming as scarce as Jeffrey Archer's pals. Add to this a senior reporter's relatively low pay (c£22,000 pa in the regions), and the UK's long hours culture and you have an industry which is not going to win staff motivation awards from the TUC. Not surprisingly seniors are switching in droves to the well-paid luxuries of radio and TV, newspaper production, press offices or PR and dotcoms. Or leaving the industry altogether. Newspaper editors have plugged the gaps with rookies straight from college. Gone are the days when fussy editors demanded graduates; nowadays a pulse and a pen is the minimum to get into journalism (unfair I know, but I'm in a cynical mood). What this means for reporting standards is disheartening - is your local daily as good as it was even five years ago? Trainees will blossom but time is the teacher. But one man's stale bread is another man's slap-up meal - there has never been a better time for newcomers to land a job because there are so many more vacancies. The easiest way is to take a course run by the National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ), accepted by most as the industry's ruling body. It runs one year (calender and academic) pre-entry courses in newspaper and magazine journalism at centres up and down the country. There are also 20 week fast-track and postgraduate courses. You need five A-C GCSE passes, including English for pre-entry. Some colleges ask f
or two A-levels or a degree. If you've previously taken a degree you will have to stump up the entire cost of the NCTJ course. There is no figure on the NCTJ website but a guesstimate would be £2,000. Subjects include media law, local and central government, shorthand (100wpm), interviews and reporting speeches. There are also court and council visits and a few weeks (usually unpaid) self-arranged work experience. There are exams in each subject at the end of the course. Pass these and you can chose where to work in regional newspapers (at the moment, at any rate). The key requirement when attending job interviews is to have a good cuttings file - during work experience push for a by-line on your stories. Two years down the line and you can sit the NCTJ's national certificate examination (law, speech and interview) and become a senior reporter with a about a 20 per cent salary hike (although the NCE pass rate is about 40 per cent). Then it's Fleet Street. For more on journalism visit www.holdthefrontpage.co.uk. To see yourself after 10 years in the industry, click on the link called 'funnies' followed by 'bad day at the office'. For info on the NCTJ contact (with a SAE) Marie Baker, Pre-entry administrator, NCTJ, Latton Bush Centre, Southern Way, Harlow, Essex, CM18 7BL. www.nctj.com. Have fun! PS: Admittedly poor working conditions is not the whole story in journalism - full employment (or as full as it's going to get) has cut the flow of recruits to every industry. And editors face face stiff competition for staff from the rapidly expanding new media sector - trainees who traditionally cut their teeth on weeklies or dailies can now join dot.coms.
~ ~ Well. That’s a wee bit of an overstatement. But not much!!!! Now before you all start wondering what’s he on about, or thinking that there’s some jiggery pokery going on behind closed doors, let me say that it’s not exactly dooyoo who are going to be paying me thousands of lovely smackeroos. But it is most definitely as a result of my scribblings here at dooyoo that I will be earning this kind of money over the next year or so. ~ ~ Let me explain, and not tease you all any more. As many of my regular readers are aware, I am a journalist (of sorts) having obtained my degree last August at the ripe young age (well, it sounds better than old age!!) of 49 years. This was done as a (very) mature student, after a lifetime in the sales world, and the last six years as a full time taxi-driver here in Dublin, Ireland. ~ ~ I never took my degree with any intention of seriously taking up journalism as my main source of income, but to enable me to pursue my writing in a more serious way on a freelance basis, and because writing was always something I loved to do with a passion. I’ve had a bit of success here in Ireland in getting my scribbles into print, and was very lucky last November, when a taxi strike here in Dublin, which lasted for about three or four weeks in all, put me in the unique position of having a “foot in both camps”, and had a couple of the quality daily newspapers actually bidding for me to write articles for them. I’ve capitalised on that happy situation since, and now do fairly regular work for a number of publications, writing car reviews in the main and the odd feature article. ~ ~ About the same time, early December to be precise, I discovered online opinion sites, first of all Epinions in the States, and then dooyoo and Ciao here in Europe. These were like manna from heaven for an aspiring writer like myself. Not only could I write about practi
cally anything I wanted and be assured it was going to be posted on the Web, but I also got invaluable and immediate feedback from other members about my content and writing style. This is something you rarely get from a newspaper or magazine, unless it is of the negative kind, with someone writing a letter to the Editor to tell them that you’re talking through a hole in your head. (or elsewhere!!) I had my share of those sort of comments during the taxi dispute, let me tell you. Also, by reading other member’s opinions, I could on occasion get a bit of inspiration for a possible feature that I could write and sell to the print media. ~ ~ So how have dooyoo potentially made me thousands of pounds. Soon after joining, I happened across the Sports Category, or more accurately the Golf section of that category here at dooyoo. Now, if there’s one passion in my life that equals my writing addiction, it’s my desire to hit that little white golf ball. It’s something I’ve been doing now for the best part of 45 years, ever since my late father put a cut down hickory shafted golf club in my pudgy little 4-year old hands. It’s a sport I played at the very highest level when I was younger, and even today, while my game isn’t what it was while “in my prime”, I still manage to hit it round fairly handy. And now I had a chance to write about the sport I loved. At that time the golf section was fairly underdeveloped at dooyoo, but I posted a few opinions, and found to my delight that they were invariably being “Crowned” as Premier Opinions by the Category Manager, Nick. (who has recently moved jobs to Public Relations; best of luck, mate) A few emails passed over the wires, and Nick adopted a lot of my suggestions straight away for inclusion in the golf section. I presume this was good for dooyoo, and it was certainly GREAT for me, and I had the time of my life w
riting away to my heart’s content. ~ ~ But to be honest, that’s really as far as my ambition in this direction went; to indulge myself a little here at dooyoo, and to take enjoyment in what I was writing. So imagine my surprise when completely out of the ether I suddenly received an email from the Editor of a prestigious and respected online golf magazine and sports travel site, saying that he had read a few of my golf opinions here at dooyoo, and would I be interested in writing reviews for them on a professional basis. GOBSMACKED!!!! That’s the only way to describe it. ~ ~ There was a bit of negotiation then, but the end result is that I have now been employed as a Staff Writer by this magazine. I get paid a set fee per review, (not saying how much, but it’s good money) and at the moment they are willing to take almost as many reviews of Irish golf courses as I can write, as they have never included any Irish courses on the website before. As well as this, my green fees to play the various courses are paid for, and in a case like the K-Club here in Dublin for example, this runs to £125 for a round!! The golf clubs look after you very nicely too, once they discover that you are a sports journalist, and are there to write a review of their course. The last one I visited, my friend and myself (can’t play on my own now, can I?) were given a cracker of a meal free of charge after our round. (Talk about icing on the cake!!) ~ ~ So I’ll finish with this. If ever there was an incentive to all you aspiring Pulitzer Prize writers out there, then this has to be it. I think we sometimes tend to forget that other people read our opinions here at dooyoo as well as the other members, and that it is possible for very good things to come about as a result. So, THANK YOU DOOYOO, from a very happy wee Scots cabbie. PS. If you want to check out my scribbles, the online mag is call
ed TravelGolf.com. and the address is http://www.travelgolf.com/week0604.htm . Go down the page until you see a heading “Set in the Dublin Mountains”. That’s moi.
It surprises me whenever I read stories about how popular journalism is as a career option. Maybe it shouldn't, because I always wanted to be a journalist and I do love my work. But I think many people who are interested in journalism have a lot of misconceptions about what it involves. For a start, there's this odd perception that it's glamorous. Most journalism isn't. Most journalists work, or at least start out on, local papers and the trade media, covering local weddings and writing for Concrete Monthly, because that's where most of the work is. The vast majority of journalists do not get to hang out with models and singers or test out glamorous holidays and products. They spend their time making a lot of phonecalls, hassling press officers, following up stories which come to nothing and re-writing press releases.The hours are long and unsociable - in my case exceptionally so as I work in international radio, but most newspaper journalists put in ten hour days and can be there till 11pm or later. It's also very unpredictable:breaking news doesn't plan itself round your social life and having to endlessly cancel plans at the last minute does not endear you to friends, partner or family. It can be very stressful -working to deadlines every day keeps the adrenalin flowing, but takes its toll. It's also very insecure, which is not something that matters when you're at school and dreaming of writing for Vogue, but matters a lot when you've got bills to pay and you suddenly get made redundant. Freelancing is even worse. Other assumptions include the idea that you have to read English to be a journalist, and you also have to be a great writer. Neither is necessarily true. I read history which I think is a much better preparation - all that analysis and evaluating evidence has come in very handy. Aside from that, university won't help you much. Graduates - me included - tend to come out with a ver
y longwinded and flowery writing technique, which they have to ditch the second they write their first article. Good journalism works using short sentences, short words and focusses entirely on keeping the reader's attention. And if you think you're a good writer, that's a bad start. For one, if you're the kind of person who can't stand their work being edited, you won't last five minutes. You'll have articles hacked, re-written and edited out of all recognition, and you'll have to live with it. So why do I love it so much? Well, I love my field (international current affairs) and I find it fascinating. I love my medium (radio) - I think it's immediacy and intelligence are way ahead of television. I love the challenge of having to come up with ideas, and seeing them through to fruition. I thrive on the uncertainty, the fact that I never know from one day to the next what I'll be working on. I'm happy living on the phone, and from hand to mouth - but if I wasn't, I'd hate my work. And I have to say that most of the journalists I know genuinely love their work - and like most of us I suspect, I don't know that many people who can honestly say they love what they do. So, what to do if you want to be a stressed out hack like me? Experience is really the only way in. Most of the industry works through who you know, and if you haven't got contacts the best way is to make them through work experience. Write to everyone you can think of and see if they can fit you in for a week. Most people write to the national press - try setting your sites a bit lower - rather than writing to the Guardian who get twenty letters like that a day, try your local paper or radio station. Don't expect to write anything, but if you can make yourself useful they may well remember you, and you may hear about positions going while you're there. If you have a speciality, an area of knowledge, push it all you can
- the more unusual it is the better. If it's a science or tecchie degree and you can convince someone - try the trade press for this - that you can write, then you've probably got it made. UNsurprisingly enough, jobs in travel or arts journalism are like hens teeth, and ones in business are two a penny (and much better paid) so if you don't go for a trendy field you'll be much better off. Also go for pratical experience too - student journalism is a great way to give it a go and will give you cuts, which will help persuade people you're serious. And above all, don't give up. And if you do all that, and you're lucky, you just may have the chance to live the kind of lunatic existence that I and my colleagues inhabit - just don't say I didn't warn you...