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?