Tag Archives: future

Journalism, or am I crazy?

Last week, I came home to news of The Sunday Tribune’s financial difficulties. The vast majority of my Twitter stream alternated between tweets about The Tribune and others about the impending closure of two Waterstone’s outlets in Dublin. While both pieces of news were as bad as each other, and reminded us of the real effect of this recession, the Tribune story struck more of a chord with me.

Not a week goes by anymore without someone asking me what I put down on my CAO or what I want to do with my life. I usually babble on for a minute or so about how I was torn between choosing a science course and a humanities course, but eventually disclose the dream of one day getting paid to write.

Each and every time I answer this question I ask myself where this whole journalism idea came from. The only relative of mine who ever wrote anything was my dad’s second cousin, who published two novels for pre-teens, along with a primary school textbook and a school play. So writing’s not exactly in my blood..

It’s hard to pinpoint when I first got this dream of being a journalist into my head. I suppose I always liked writing. Many a time as a young wan I tried writing a book, and for a few years there kept a diary religiously.

Being editor of the school magazine in TY is probably what made me seriously consider a career in publishing or the media. There were, of course, other people involved with the magazine, and there’s no way it would have ever happened without them, but I’m not going to pretend that I didn’t do a hell of a lot of work to get that magazine printed and sent off to The Irish Times before the deadline for the competition closed.

Having been taught the basics of InDesign by an art teacher in school, I spent my mid-term painstakingly putting the magazine together, bit by bit, before flying off to Paris for a school trip. Last year was much the same, only Paris was replaced by an even better trip to London. In some ways, though, last year’s magazine was a more influential experience. It’s hard to say which magazine was better overall, but if I had to pick one, I’d probably choose last year’s ‘Snap!’ While ‘Ink’ from the previous year was impressive, the bit of experience we had shone through in ‘Snap!’ Above all, I put together every single page of it, and maybe even more importantly wrote an award-winning article about Plugd’s closure.

I know that sounds quite conceited but it’s not. If I could write about Plugd for the rest of my life, then my articles would all be pretty good. It’s easy and enjoyable to write about something you know very well and love even more. And as much as this would be a fabulous career, I don’t think it’s very feasible. Having said that, if you know someone who’d like to hire someone (i.e. me) to write a regular column about Plugd, then do pass on my details.

I remember going to the school magazine awards in the Science Gallery in Trinity in TY. I think it was Shane Hegarty of the Times who told us a story of how his career in publishing started when he put together his 6th year yearbook. It was a nice story to hear because it reminded me a bit of myself, only my ‘career’ started even earlier, in 6th class when I designed the cover of out primary school yearbook. And it wasn’t that I was the only one willing to do it, because everyone in the class had to do one, and then there was a vote among the class. If, one day, I become a mighty successful journalist, this will be my story of my beginnings in journalism. I could embellish it a bit though, and claim that I knew from that very moment it was all I ever wanted to do. How romantic..

Now though, I’m eighteen and need to be a bit more realistic about job opportunities. I could have done the sensible thing and went for Medicine, but when have I ever done the sensible thing? I probably should be contributing to this whole smart economy lark, but instead I’m aiming for the most insecure career possible.

It worries me that I’ll spend my life writing the odd article here and there, struggling to find permanent work or make ends meet. I’m scared that I’ll regret choosing this airy-fairy future over a solid, well-payed, highly-sought-after job. The current vogue of blaming the Irish Government for everything doesn’t really apply here, unfortunately enough. The newspaper industry was changing long before the IMF arrived in the country, so I can’t go shouting at politicians who come canvassing to the door that they’ve ruined my chances of being a journalist. That’s a bit annoying really, because it would have been nice to have someone to blame.

Last June I spent one amazing week working with the Irish Times, and I’d have given anything to stay there and not have to come home and face the raucous music that is the Leaving Cert. When I do imagine my future self, it’s not in a hospital or a lab but somewhere else, less concrete, but there’s usually a notebook in hand or laptop in front of me.

I don’t think I’m in any way gifted at writing or English which sometimes make me reconsider this whole ‘plan’, if you can even call it that. Yes, I’m well able to ramble on and successfully bullshit my way through an exam, but this doesn’t mean I’ll be pumping out literary masterpieces any time soon. Or any time at all.

I may be deluding myself. More than maybe, I’m probably deluding myself. But I think I’ve got to at least try to achieve the dream first, and if it doesn’t work out, I can always marry a farmer…

 

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Guidance…

I don’t know why they call it guidance at all really. You sit there, listening to that ‘guidance counsellor’ drone on and on about how to apply and where you can do level 6 courses and blah blah. I know all this shit already, I need you to help me figure out to do with my life, not tell me that it’s good to get into the habit of filling out forms in black biro.
The prospectii that I already have at home are thrown at me, and I have to ‘research’ a course, research here meaning reading the brief course description that I’ve read ten times myself already. Everyone proceeds to scribble down banal details such as number of places, course code and where to apply. You people think I don’t know this already?!?! You actually think that just by reading the prospectus in the ‘Guidance Suite’ it will miraculously all become clear as opposed to reading it in the comfort of my own bedroom?
So every Monday, I leave the ‘Guidance Suite’ more confused than ever. I’m being told to do Arts or go to a post-leaving cert college. Not being snobby here, but I’m capable of alot more than a certificate, you people should know this. Or has the motto suddenly become ‘Aim low and you might eventually get there via the longest possible route just in time to have the degree you want to stick on the inside of your coffin’. I’m all for looking at different options, and trust me, I have. I’ve possibly looked at every possible area and course available to me. And to be honest, that’s the problem. I’ve too much choice. If I work hard, I can get however many points I want, so that’s not a huge issue. But where to start?
When I was young, very young, I wanted to be a vet. That dream lasted for a good while and I thought I’d never, ever want to do anything else. I even remember telling my parents that you could only do vet med in Dublin, and what would I do, not realising I’d be mad to move away when the time came.
I think Science came next, although maybe there was a very short period of time where I was interested in teaching. But yeah, from about 1st to 3rd year I was set on Science. I was looking at Biomed, Medicinal Chem, general Science, Biochem and so on. Then I contemplated Pharmacy and thought about Medicine, and to this day I still do. Law crept in round about third year, and is still a strong possibility.
Fourth year opened my eyes to the completely new (to me) area of media. Design, journalism and TV/radio suddenly fascinated me. This all happened for numerous reasons and I still have this idea of what I want to do. It’s an extremely idealistic view of what I’d like to end up doing, but everything starts with a dream. I think I love writing, and design too. I like organising and running events. I like the arts and culture. I like the Internet, newspapers, blogs, film and graphic design. I like Irish.
So right now, I have two vastly different options in front of me. I have the scientific one, which absolutely fascinates me. As gay as it sounds, I have a hunger for knowledge, and I like knowing the answers and understanding things. Science is modern and the key to our future as Ireland begins to focus on R&D. The option to study the human body and drugs and having such powerful knowledge seems exciting, and I know I would love studying medicine or pharmacy. It’s the job that’s turning me off. I don’t know how I’d like to be stuck in a lab on my own all day surrounded by test tubes and droppers. I’m not sure if I’d be able to cope in a hospital as contagious diseases scare the living daylights out of me. Being able to save someone’s life would be utterly amazing, but I just don’t know how I’d cope in a hospital, married to my job.
Then there’s option two. If I chose that route, there’s lots more choices to make after that. I was thinking of Law and Irish and if I had to fill out my CAO today that’s probably be number one. Law’s a very broad degree and I think that’s what I need, while Irish would allow me study something I love and use it to possibly get into media or something completely different. Journalism and New Media in UL is something I’ve been looking at too, although it’s a very new course. There’s a few in NUIG that interest me too. That’s the thing about UCC, it’s very ‘traditional’ course-wise. While other colleges are looking to the future and diversifying into modern areas, UCC seem to be holding back a little, and it annoys me, because I really don’t know if moving away is financially feasible.
So here you are, with me in the midst of making one of the biggest decisions in my life. This time next year, that form will have been signed, sealed and delivered. I’m merely a teenager, who still has to get dropped here and there by my parents, who can’t even legally buy alcohol, and yet I’m expected to know what I want to do with my life.
Mind-boggling, in more ways than one.

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The Future of Media

Newspapers have always played an integral role in the reporting of news in years gone by. As the primary source of news, newspapers were a vital aspect of everyday life, and were usually the first outlet to deliver news stories to civilians.

As radio and television came to the fore, newspapers took a step back. Still though, most people comtinued to buy a daily or weekly paper. There are numerous Irish newspapers in operation today on both a local and national scale. They have huge offices, employ hundreds of people from journalists to photographers, graphic designers to reporters, and are a powerful force in Irish media.

Today, however, many newspapers are struggling due to a change in the way we source our news. Whereas once before newspapers delivered breaking news stories, these events are now reported on television and radio long before they ever reach the front page of a national publication.

A new phenomenon being witnessed is that of real time news via the Internet. Recent news stories such as the Iranian elections, Michael Jackson’s death and the earthquake in Haiti are perfect examples of how media is changing. You don’t just have professional journalists, photographers and TV crews in the area, but also local people, spreading their knowledge through the medium of websites such as Twitter.

Twitter has become infamous in the past couple of years, and is a widely exploited resource for individuals and companies alike. In the last Irish general election, results were first posted on RTE’s twitter page, providing up-to-the-minute content for the world to see. Anyone can post a message on Twitter, and because of this, it is difficult to sort out the reliable from the timewasters.

So therein lies the question. Each one of us has at our hands access to more information than our grandparents could have thought possible. The problem we face is trying to find the good, and reject the bad. Mark Little, an Irish journalist, has taken a year out from his position as host of RTE’s Prime Time to focus on a digital media and global journalism project that aims to deliver to us reliable news as it happens. An avid Twitterer, Little is convinced that the Internet has changed media forever.

One has to contemplate what lies ahead for traditional media outlets. In 2008 The Irish Times made its articles available for free online, along with a real-time news feed. Is this the future for print media? With online news sources gaining more popularity, the stories in newspapers may be viewed as history due to the time constraints they are under to get the newspaper printed.

The younger Irish generation will not be willing to pay for news if they can obtain it for free online. I read irishtimes.com daily, and therefore have no need to read any newspaper my parents may buy. I regularly hear breaking news stories long before my parents, who rely on television, radio and newspapers.

There is no doubt that the way we source news is changing. The burning question is whether or not this will lead to the demise of the traditional print media. Personally, I believe there will always be a need for reliable sources of news. There’s nothing like having a physical copy of a newspaper to flick through, and reading not only the news stories, but comments and analysis on a wide range of topics including society, education, and life. Who knows what lies ahead; we’ll just have to wait and see.

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