Friday, 16 December 2011

Stop the Press

Hello again, as usual I need to apologise for not blogging in a while, however for once I cannot blame my laziness. This time I have started work so rather than being sat aimlessly at my computer I am doing hours, also our Internet has been less than reliable recently.
However to my point, with the topical subject of those dirty journos, as a (loosely termed) trained journalist (I have my certificates, honest) why have I chosen not to pursue the career in Fleet Street that I trained for?
So as some of you who read my ramblings or know me within the ‘real world’ may know, I spent three of my tender and developmental years training to become a journalist. I enjoyed writing and I had interests in sport and music (in case you hadn’t noticed) so I thought I would give it a pop. I worked hard, and wrote constantly, in pursuit of becoming a journalist. I gained those qualifications, however along the way I lost some of the passion that I had when I walked in three years earlier.

The reasons I lost that passion is something I will get to further down. Now many of you may have been following the enquiry about standards of the press, and the phone hacking scandal that has surrounded the News of The World newspaper.
Now I had watched this from a far, having a very mildly educated opinion, and watching it unfold. This was until just recently (about a two weeks ago, so very contemporaneous of me) when a former lecturer of mine (who I shall not name, as she has already been named in many media outlets and I don’t feel that I should drag her name through the mud) was arrested for conspiracy to phone hack during her time at the aforementioned newspaper.
I must say, this is not a dig at her. I always found her a fantastically interesting and engaging tutor, and I felt she was someone who really tried to help harness my passion for writing and, originally, for journalism. She even helped get my first real story published within the local newspaper. For that I am very grateful and appreciative.
However, this story inspired me to try to pen the reasons for my loss of passion and growing discontent with journalism and myself for choosing that route.
So back to a younger me. I was doing all sorts, writing for a couple of websites and I had even picked up some paid work writing about sports; cracking. I was even writing stories at my own expense just to get a byline and a bit more experience.
So the opportunity to gain some work experience at my local newspaper was something I jumped at! I went in on my first day, a tad nervous, and was thrown into a fairly thick schedule of press releases that needed to be rewritten into stories. My supervisor wasn’t there, so I was left to do the work for myself with no prior training. So I worked hard, put in a full shift, and got a fair few stories done.
I came back, excited to hear the feedback and to learn more about my developing craft. What I got was I was taken into a side office, and bollocked. Not just, she said some critical things, I was physically shouted at. I was called stupid, not good enough; I was even told that I couldn’t even write. This crushed me. I was brave (well brave for me) and gave it another shot, but I spent the day being treated like a child, and my supervisor even took the time to belittle and ruin some work experience I had arranged for myself. All this was for a 19 year old lad in his second year at university.
I will admit that I am not the strongest of characters and I do put myself down to a certain degree because of a lack of confidence. However, I felt if you could treat somebody on work experience in that way, how would you treat somebody employed there? It wasn’t for me, and that probably killed what could have been (but at the same time could not have been) a blossoming career.
So to skip to the accusations that are being thrown at the top journalists of our day, it sickens me. It sickens me that they could over step the line with many people, and it worries me about the abuse of power that has gone on within many of these top titles. What sickens me most though is that I wanted that, I wanted to become that, put my morals aside and allow myself to be almost bullied into ruining people’s lives. All for the sake of a job; that’s not what I signed up for.
So I may not be better off; I may not be even that good a writer; I may not have even made something of myself in journalism. However, I have my principles, and if you could throw that young, inexperienced student journalist under the bus, what would you do to one of your own? I think I will give that a miss, thanks.

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