Posts Tagged ‘journalism


Is it still worth trying?

Today’s “Media” supplement in the Guardian made for depressing reading. The splash was about graduate and trainee journalists, and how they’ve been left behind as this recession bites on newspapers (which, as we all know, have for years been on a downward spiral without need of an economic downturn).

I won’t repeat the article, it’s all hear, but I will agree that this is a loss not just to graduates but to the newspapers as well. A dynamic newsroom feeds from the energy of newcomers as well as the experience of the older journalists. I loved my brief spell at a national news-desk, and I particularly enjoyed the advice and guidance shown to me by one of our senior political writers, who seemed to take me under his wing.

As for what this mean for me personally, well, it might be best advised to give it up. It seems the death-notice for this industry has been long ago nailed to the door. Freelancing doesn’t cut it, I don’t think it ever did for an inexperienced journalist. Several well-meaning individuals have suggested I go for a change of career (PR as obviously been mentioned). However, I’m not letting go of the dream just yet. I’m a hack. I’ve been convinced for almost a decade now that this is my vocation, and it’s what I’ve worked for and committed myself to. I don’t think it’s time go give up on that just yet.


Mo money mo problems…

This morning I received a phone call from the Irish Examiner telling me they ran a piece of mine a few weeks back and I must set up an account in order for them to pay me. Confused, I declared that they’ve already paid me. “Really,” responded the bloke, “you name’s not on my list. Are you sure it wasn’t somebody else that paid you?” This was, in fact, exactly the mistake I was making. Seemingly suffering from a brief, highly specific level of amnesia, I forgot a distinction between the words “examiner” and “independent”. Of course I only realised this after the fact. Rather cheekily, I said to the guy on the phone, “if you want to pay me again go right ahead.”

Anyway, it was a nice surprise. I’d missed the piece when it ran so it was nice of them to chase me down to pay me. I’m sure whatever money I’ll get will be so tiny it almost won’t be worth the bother. But sure, it’s better than a kick from a horse, as they say.



I had me an article published today. See here if you don’t believe me.

Ok, it’s the Indo. I realise most bloggers have some issues with this publication, what with their copy-n-paste approach to journalism and all. But they did right by me. Well, the subs kinda screwed me as they cut out most of it and diluted the point of the article (that being the debate within the industry if a protest will damage their position). Nonetheless, my name is in print. I’m still unemployed, and I’m not likely to get much money for the piece, but at least I can honesty say I’m a freelancer now.


To those with a positive, “can-do” attitude, calm the fuck down and stop making things more complicated for everyone

My return to the service industry has naturally been met with a return of everything about it that I hate. As any barman or waiter will tell you, this isn’t a business marked by major difficulties, like – say – working down a coal mine. Its curse is the sum of a million little problems. For me, at least for now, chief among these is a phenomenon I’ve encountered in almost ever bar and restaurant I’ve worked in, the over-eager busy-body who thinks he’s helping everyone but is actually making the whole experience far more painful than it needs to be.

This particular individual, I’ve notice, has a penchant for taking charge of various situations, even if they require no forethought or direction whatsoever. For instance, the task of going to the cold-room to retrieve a case of wine comes with instructions on what route to take, what route to take back, other types of wine that might be suitable if the first choice isn’t available, how to bend your back when lifting a heavy box, etc. Just to be clear, this guy isn’t any level of boss or the holder of some certificate that makes him qualified to give such instructions. He just enjoys telling people what to do.

He’s worst offence was having us prepare trays of drinks for guests as they arrive, hours before the guests actually arrived. We ended up having to throw them out (the drinks that is, not the guests). Now all this might be some way forgivable if he had any talent as a barman, so let me point out one little thing; he thinks a half-pint goes into a slim-jim glass.

I’ve tried figuring out what motivates people like this. I suppose it’s a desire to be noticed above the herd. In this case, however, I don’t think that’s the point. I think he just gets a kick from the sense that he’s in charge. My first clue what the list of utterly pointless questions he asked our supervisor on our first shift. I seriously doubt he asked these question because was unsure of the answers (nobody could be that stupid). I’m positive he thought the rest of us would learn something if he brought them up.

Of course a level in initiative is necessary in any industry. It’s what turns an average service in to a great one. But when you’re seeking to maximise the benefit from every conceivable scenario, what you’re actually doing is wasting time and effort combating problems that never existed in the first place.

Apart from all this (and a small level of dickery from one or two superiours), the only other event of interest involving my new job occured last night when I served a particular girl. She’s a very active voluteer with Fianna Fail, and I worked with her quite a bit during the summer when I was covering the Lisbon campaign. This was slightly humiliating. I mean, to go from being a proper journalist to serving drinks to privilaged fucks is quite a downgrage. Of course I realise lots of people have proper jobs and do a little bar work on the side. Still, I think I would have felt better had she not been there.