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J-students must stick around and clear up the mess

May 6th, 2009

It’s May. And, tough as the journalism market is right now, it’s about to get tougher. Journalism schools around the UK are about to spit out their latest crop of hopefuls.

Last year, I was among them. This year, with an added year of experience and cynicism, I’m feeling cautiously optimistic. And, no doubt, there will be many worried students out there, wondering if their three years (or more) of study were worth it.

Here’s my advice: stick around and clear up the mess.

In an interview for recently, I described how the job market has changed in the past year. In 2008, we were well aware that competition was tough. Reporters jobs were extremely thin on the ground. One position I applied for — on a smallish London newspaper — had, the editor told me, nearly 1000 applicants.

But now there isn’t any competition. There isn’t anything to compete over. Newspapers are getting rid, chopping down and slicing up. The reporter that left last week isn’t being replaced.

So what do journalism students do? Give up? Get a job in PR? Get a job in Sainsbury’s?

Maybe — if that’s what it takes. But here’s the crucial tip: whatever you do, stay close to journalism.

So what if there aren’t any full-time reporting roles on newspapers. Are the pages empty? No! They’re still full of words, pictures, stories. All of which are — until Murdoch invents some sort of Churnobot — written by humans. You’ll struggle with local newspapers, they don’t have much of a budget, but you could have better luck elsewhere. On the web, in the nationals — they all need writers.

So if you need to work at Sainsbury’s — do it. Work lates. Get a job in a pub.

Just spend your day being a journalist. Get shifts, even if it’s one day a week. Apply for anything that’s remotely near to a newsroom. Work on the reception if you have to.

You need to make sure you’re in the industry when it’s back on the way up.

Cuttings: Social media money, Project Canvas, Al-Jazeera brilliance and brandjackers ahoy

March 9th, 2009

Number one sign you’ve been doing this journalism malarky for a while is that you don’t post “LOOK AT ME!!” posts every time something is published.

Nah. Instead you save up a few and then do an even bigger “AINT I JUST BRILLIANT?!” post instead. :-)

So here are a few things I’ve been up to lately. ‘Journalism schools: embrace Al Jazeera’s Creative Commons deal’

You might not know it yet, but Al Jazeera may have just changed the face of student journalism.

The news agency has now started publishing its news footage on the web under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 licence.

BBC News: The future of TV lies on the net

In early March, the BBC Trust set about the task of debating the public value of Project Canvas.

Should the plans put forward by the BBC executive get the go-ahead, it might mean that Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) becomes a staple feature in UK homes as early as 2010.

BBC News: Making money on a social network

It remains the elephant in the room. Or, more to the point, the “fail whale” in the room.

Just how are social networks, with their millions upon millions of users, going to make money?

BBC News: Online brand abuse ‘on the rise’

Online abuse of the world’s top brands is rising, according to a report.

Cyber-squatting – in which someone registers a domain name with the aim of selling it on at a later date – remains the most common form of abuse.


Sign up now for the young journo blogging ring

July 30th, 2008

A week or so ago I wrote a blog brainstorming a few ideas for a young journalist blogging ring. It was inspired by Jessica DaSilva, the rather brave intern who blogged her way into a bit of a nightmare, but then pretty much blogged her way into a glistening career at the same time. Wonderful, I thought.

Anyway, it made me realise that I don’t really know many young journalists that are bloggers. Apart from either friends who I’ve bullied into starting blogs, or some of my NZ students…. who I’ve bullied into starting blogs too :-D

So here’s the deal. John Thompson, from, has set up a new section of the site for our ring. It’s a Wordpress-powered site (woo!), which we can all sign up to and post to.

Now I know what you’re thinking: Can’t I just post on my own blog and then get the lovely link traffic?

Feel free — I’ll be doing it with my posts, for sure. However, by posting onto I think this will become an effective, managed resource that can be searched and archived in one sole location, thus making a sort of young-journalist knowledge bank on the web. And of course, let’s not disregard the clout has in the online journo world. There are few places better suited to hosting all of this stuff.

One of the concerns from my original post was exclusivity. I suggested — wrongly — that I (and others) pick and choose bloggers who had already made a name for themselves on the web. Wrong. How would that work? The whole reason for this idea coming into existence was because of Jessica…. who I’d never heard of. So to exclude bloggers who weren’t already famous from contributing is just a really stupid idea. Thanks to all who made the point perfectly clear via comments and emails. We’re debating already!

But there will be some restrictions. We need to keep this focused in order to make it useful and interesting.

So, to take part in the Young Journalist Blog Ring, you will have to be:

a) Under 30-years-old. I know there will be a couple of disappointed people out there with this restriction, but without it I feel we lose the point a bit.

b) You blog (or plan to blog) about journalism in some shape or form. Bit of an obvious one, this, but I think it’s important that we’re all coming from the same place here. I’m not bothered what stage of you’re career you’re at, so long as that career’s journalism.

c) You promote the ring! If we all bring attention to this by shouting it from the rooftops, then there’s no reason why this can’t become the best point for young opinion on the media on the web.

Finally… I can’t write ‘the ring’ without thinking of that horrible Gollum chap. So, anyone who can come up with a good, catchy name wins… wins… your very own DVD copy of Batman: The Dark Night!* Wow!

So, if you’re interested, please email me: . Obviously, want to be removing that NOSPAM bit. If you’ve already emailed me, please do it again… I don’t want to miss anyone out, and my Gmail inbox is busier than a Barack Obama gig campaign rally.

I’d like to add, of course, that any suggestions are still very welcome as to how the ring should work. I’ve set those three requirements as a means of getting the ball rolling. But please, ideas wanted!

(*Which you can redeem by waiting until it is released, going to the nearest DVD store and handing over your money. Tee hee hee.)

The bashing together of young journalism heads

July 15th, 2008

Every month I take part in the Carnival of Journalism. It’s a fun little event where a selection of invited bloggers bash their collective heads and write about journalism. It’s been especially good in recent times, as there has been a set question to answer for all of the bloggers.

Think of it as an enclosed meme on your favourite subject.

Anyway: I had an idea. After reading the wonderful tale about Jessica DaSilva, and having been a long-time reader of MerandaWrites, I thought it would be a stellar idea to start a blog ring — just like the Carnival — but specifically for young journalists.

Only a handful, mind you. The ring will be invitation-only: The bloggers will have already made a bit of a name for themselves. I think, collectively, the group could hold some power. We are, after all, the future of the industry. Wouldn’t you be interested in what we’re up to?

After posing the idea on Twitter, John at got in touch to say they’d be interested in hosting it. So, in the spirit of all things bloggery, I’m now putting the idea to everyone:

Who should be in it?
What should we be writing about?
Would you read it?
Should the ‘age’ be based on life age, or years of experience?

I look forward to seeing what you all think.