Why it’s still ok to want to be a journalist

I read a rather depressing article in the Sunday Times today about the current state of journalism. I say ‘depressing’ because it is all about how impossible it is to make your way into the profession, and this is exactly what I am hoping to do this year.

The article, written by Ed Caesar, in general seems to be rather scathing about wannabe journalists. It almost insinuates that any of us who have the audacity for wanting to enter the profession must be either slightly mad or completely ignorant of what the whole process is going to entail.

“Why would anyone choose to become a journalist in this climate?” the article asks. Before explaining that: “In the early years, at least, the hours will be weird, the money derisory, the burden Sisyphean. You will also enjoy the added anxiety of having no idea what the industry will look like in 10 years.”

And Caesar is keen to point out that “next month, around 3,000 students will complete postgraduate diplomas in journalism and media studies, and a further 30,000 will receive degrees in these subjects”. But this, to me, is irrelevant.

Not all of these students will want to enter into the profession. And many of them will not have done well enough in their degree or diploma for it to be worth even adding to their CV. And a degree or diploma does not a journalist make. The majority of them will simply not be determined or good enough to crack into the industry.

And this number probably does not even begin to compare to the amount of economics, business, management and maths graduates who will be wanting to enter into accountancy, consultancy and the like. And this in a time when the recession hit these businesses often just as hard, or if not then possibly harder, than it hit journalism.

Yes, the traditional newspaper print media is dying a slow death. But that does not mean that journalism in general is. I for one have already started to see an increase in the number of jobs advertised on Gorkana in the past few months.

And I can only hope that Rupert Murdoch’s looming experiment with charging for internet content is going to be highly successful. I see no reason why it shouldn’t be, as long as others follow him as soon as possible and the BBC do start to tone down their free internet news content.

On top of this, we have the extra readership the iPad is bound to bring to look forward to and the fact that many magazines have actually recently enjoyed increased readership figures to keep us feeling positive.

I’m not saying it is going to be easy but I am determined to remain optimistic about my prospects. Nothing is impossible. I’ve just been watching BBC Young Musician 2010 and if 14-year-olds are able to train hard and perform music from memory to that kind of breath-taking standard, then I am going to stay positive about my chances of cracking into journalism.

It is exactly these types of ‘scare stories’ which turn journalists into a laughing stock as a profession. I wish there had to be more balance to journalism. Perhaps then we wouldn’t all be dismally ebbing our way towards featuring “somewhere between MPs and estate agents in the sliding scale of disgustingness,” as Caesar himself puts it.

By Sophie Hudson

P.S. Just to be extra optimistic, if you’re reading this and you’re hiring my email is: sophie.i.hudson *AT* gmail.com.


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