On Journalism.

Journalism – raise or fold?

Job hunting is not a game of luck. It is a game of skill, patience and good strategy. Oh, and having good talents, and confidence in them, to…bring to the table.

You’ve got wits, you’ve got looks, you’ve got passion,

But are you brave enough to leave with me tonight?

Dashboard Confessional: “As Lovers Go”

I have had a love affair with journalism since I was 14. And when I got to London ten years later with a BA and bucketfuls of brazen confidence, I was ready to take it on.

Fresh out of Uni, I did the studious thing:

In 1998, a pan-European survey discovered journalists have the “lowest trust rating” in Europe and the U.S.A.  However, Alan Rusbridger, editor of The Guardian, responded with, understandable, moral indignation.  Historically, journalists have played positive and heroic roles in exposing government propaganda and secrecy on matters of public interest, political sleaze, cover-ups and corruption in all industries, and miscarriages of justice, often resulting in the release of people convicted unjustly. He wrote: “If you had any official agency like that, they would be heroes. It would be a hailed and respected organisation. And yet, we in the press are unhailed, unrespected, untrusted”.

As early as day three of my first internship at a political news website, I hear an announcement that journalists should not report anything that might prejudice the fair trial of three MPs and a peer facing criminal prosecution. Over expenses.

But the day after, David Cameron, William Hague and other Senior Ministers virtually declare them guilty on T.V.

But no! It’s fiiiiiiine for politicians to say anything they want on T.V. with no consequences! We just wouldn’t want the opinions of journalists to be out there, available for the public. Can you imagine? JOURNALISTS – those that studied to postgraduate level, studied thoughts on democracy and the ideals of objectivity and fact-based reporting and reasoned argument! No, far better for them to be relegated to impotently reporting POLITICIANS, instead, are broadcasting their views. Or is there one rule for journalists, and another rule for everybody else?

SO, what I don’t get is this: Why is there a public announcement to tell journalists what not to report, when anything that journalists report is theoretically Least Trusted? Do the words of journalists matter or not?

It’s topsy-turvy. I can’t help feeling that journalism is all about giving the limelight to the least-deserving people, while journalists themselves have no choice but to hide in the shadows. It’s not even of headline importance.

But, Brad and Angelina, with their “£205million assets” issued a writ against News of the World. A full-blown article in the Metro complete with nauseating couple shots. And on my way to my unpaid internship from one side of London to the other, freezing and wondering when the train will start moving, it made me miss someone I left to ‘make it in journalism’. For all work and no by-line, 3 hours commuting and a paucity of human interaction.

I’d heard about ghost-writing. This felt like ghost-working. I was invisible.

See, there’s a problem if being a journalist consists of hiding in the shadows…

…I don’t like hiding in the shadows.

I went to a party in January. An ex-newspaper reporter was there; he said no one gets paid for writing. He said online journalism is the way forward, but doesn’t make a profit. Meanwhile, famous people get paid – but only for writing rubbish. He laughed at the suggestion I might get paid for writing something that isn’t rubbish.

And who am I to say otherwise? I’m an unpaid intern; I am not part of the economy. What does that make me?

On the way home another day, the Red Cross was recruiting. ‘Looking for angels’ on the street is more lucrative than journalism is going to be for the next couple of years, at least.

So, now I’m not sure. See, ephemeral dreams are great. Journalists are brilliant. And I expected hard work and competition.

But this kind of career leaves no room for a sliver of personal trauma. And hey, guess what I get dealt with on arrival?

I used to leap at a challenge. But now all I see is defeatism. I used to be an optimistic student. Now I am a graduate in a bleak reality. I’m at the point where nothing will be the same again. Parts of my life have just been irrevocable torn.

When that happens, who gives a damn about a paper? At 9:30am, they are scattered on an empty train anyway.

Isn’t that the truth?

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5 thoughts on “On Journalism.

  1. Pingback: Red lines across my copy | A leek writes

  2. Different people, and different groups of people, are held to different standards, and that’s appropriate. If journalists hope to raise their profile from ‘least trusted’, then they need to hold to high standards – perhaps then, people will trust them more. Trust is earned, not given, in the real world. We expect journalists to be unbiased and neutral, to an extent, which isn’t something we can ever reasonably expect from politicians. If you report the news, you hope to contribute positively to the world not by spinning your own narrative; your actions are based on a conviction that simply telling the truth can make the world a better place.
    That said, I certainly wouldn’t rate journalists as least trusted. Journalists ARE heros and they are an integral part of a free society. IMAO bringing in universal multi-party elections in China wouldn’t be half as much as a contribution to justice and people’s welfare than a free press in China within the current one-party system.

    Incidentally I’m inclined to believe Brad and Angelina are on the path to separation, despite their protests to the contrary :-P

    • So, you think journalists should be held more accountable and held to higher/different standards than democratically elected politicians? Is that what you’re saying?

      If so, then perhaps we should turn this around a bit. Follow “Fred from West Yorkshire” who texted in to say “Why are so many MPs out of touch with reality? They should be paid jobseeker’s allowance and not have any expenses.” Hmm. Maybe that’s a BIT harsh. (Metro: 16/2/2010).

      I agree that the free press is more valuable than the choice on offer at elections. I have been wondering: if there is a hung Parliament for a while here in England, who ARE the people going to listen to?

      And, incidentally, why’s that? Have you fallen prey to gossip, or is there a reason for your inclination? :)

  3. Another good article and so from the heart. You have to do what feels right for you. You shouldn’t give up on your dream(s) though even if you do have to temporarily go down a different path to get some funds. Could you write and submit articles to different places in order to get your name known and for the experience? I know someone who has just got published in Esquire for the first time by taking a gamble like that. Took them along time but it has paid off. Good Luck!

    • Thank you Happy Frog – you are are a positive frog!
      And if I can get published that way, and you say someone else has, I certainly will. I’m not folding yet.
      With fans like you, I’m bound to “make it”… I just have to line up some magazines/newspapers/publications, and when I shoot they won’t know what hit ’em. *thinks confident* :)

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