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Tintin, Fleet Street, Russel Group and the World of Journalism in the 21st Century

Submitted by on August 28, 2014 – 10:05 amNo Comment

 

QWERTY.

It all started with a brown trench coat, a tuft of ginger hair and a white dog. Yep it was while growing up reading Tintin annuals that I became enthralled with the concept of reporting and the world of journalism. Here was a character who did not just travel the world but he righted wrongs, fought against injustice and had some bloody interesting friends.

As I got older I started to get more involved with researching society and politics and to analyse the world that we live in and why it works the way that it does. I also loved creative writing and the way that one could paint pictures with black ink, this was a while back before computers were the norm andeveryone used text books and pens, to make thoughts come alive.

Eventually I ended up going to a journalism college in South Africa. A few years after graduating I said goodbye to my friends and my life in Cape Town and moved to London. I have now been here for 15 years.

I had already freelanced in Cape Town, Wellington, London, Berlin, Krakow. I worked for a magazine that was published in London as well as Brazil and covered IDFA twice as a journalist. So when I applied to do my BA in journalism at City University I thought that this was the key, the one thing I needed to solidify my career as a journalist in London. That was the advice I was given before starting my BA.

I was also told to start a blog which I did and which turned into a magazine that I and all the others who wrote for it are very proud of, you are reading from it now. I also started using social media to get my profile out there and did unpaid internships. I qualified last year from City with a BA in journalism. Yet, if I had to honestly look back at my opportunities as a journalist before and after graduating it feels like nothing has changed whatsoever. Oh yeah now I have student loan debt that I never had before.

I found some faults with my course, but essentially it was not the problem. How could it be when I learnt: shorthand, radio, TV, print, online writing, feature writing, news writing, in design, activism, media law and investigative journalism? No, to me it seems that the fault of not being able to get a job lies more with my industry.

By all means this is not meant to come across as a rant and I am not trying to get sympathy, I see this piece more as a cathartic outlet for my frustration. I understand that the recession has affected the industry and that journalists are losing their jobs left, right and centre! But it is very hard to be diplomatic when the only e-mails that one receives, sometimes even for unpaid work experience positions, are rejections and at least I get those. Most times there are no replies and never any feedback.

Then there is the stupidity and excuses for not getting work such as what I recently read, in different publications online that journalism training is almost pointless…what? Or that an MA rather than a BA in journalism studies is better…what? Or that the only way these days to get into the industry, is to have an MA/BA in an area of interest that is not journalism…what?

Five W’s and one H…let me get this straight so here’s a scenario: a publication hires a person who studied finance and then sends them out to interview say…Christine Lagarde, right? So here they are in the interview with a pressing deadline, but they have no interviewing skills. So maybe they tell her that they like the world of finance too and they have a wonderful chat and they even get her autograph to show their friends. They get back to the office and tell the editor what a great interview it was. Am I totally missing something here?

From this, all that seems to come to mind to me is perhaps a bunch of old school editors who never changed with the times. Who maybe do not know how to embrace new technology and who hark back to the old days of Fleet Street. Days when none of the Russel Group graduates thought media was cool then, so it was not in demand and one could walk into a newspaper and get training! Ahh yeah, guess what guys the industry has changed a lot since the 70s and if you want good journalism then attitudes towards newly qualified journalism graduates should change too!

With every stroke of my keyboard writing this, the world of PR is getting some of the finest journalists that graduated with me as all their talents go to waste writing some fake bullshit copy because they need to live and pay bills! Also, I like many other recent journalism graduates are struggling to get ahead because we perhaps don’t fall into the easy world of nepotism. Sorry no uncle, aunt, grandfather, grandmother, mom or dad to pull some strings for me, even if I had the talent or not as a journalist!

However, there is one thing that I do have beyond a doubt and that is the abilities of a damn good journalist. I love it, I live for it, I am older, qualified, I have travelled, I have integrity and meet my deadlines. Throw me into a jungle, a war zone a dodgy street or anywhere else I am required to go and I will come back with the story every time! I need a bigger chance to prove myself and I am way past being hungry for it I am starving for it.

 

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