Tag Archives: journalism

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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See-Ay-Oh.

That title may make no sense whatsoever to you, but I was just trying to mix things up a bit. And yes, I am aware that that was an extremely innovative and mind-blowing way of doing it. Titles are not my forte.

If you’re still lost, I’m talking about the CAO. Central Applications Office, for those of you lucky enough not to have a clue what those three little letters stand for; three little letters that strike fear into the hearts of sixth years nationwide. I’ve been thinking about what direction I want to go down later in life for a while now. I suppose that’s an obvious statement. In reality, I think that, as children, we’re always thinking about it, even if we don’t realise it. When I was four years old I decided I wanted to be a vet. Nothing else would suffice.

For the next nine years or so I watched every ‘Animal Hospital’, ‘Vets on Call’ and ‘Emergency Vets’ I could find. I dreamed of opening my own surgery and treating every animal that walked, hopped, flew, slid or swam through the door. Truth be told, I did manage to have my own veterinary hospital, where I successfully managed to treat all the stuffed toys I owned. There was a notebook too, where everything was recorded. I took things very seriously, although I did offer free check-ups.. Not sure was that such a good idea..

Fourteen years on, and I wish I was still as sure about my career as I was back then. Between then and now I’ve contemplated teaching, science, pharmacy, medicine, law, Irish, media and probably a lot more I can’t think of right now. The vet phase lasted until I started secondary school, and slowly I started thinking about science of some description. Then at some point, law became a possibility followed by journalism within the last year or two. To sum things up, I haven’t a clue what to do.

Since starting into our final year of secondary education, we’ve been bombarded with prospectuses, guidance sessions, predict-your-points worksheets, entry requirements, UCAS, HPAT, closing dates, open days and university fairs. That big, brown, scary CAO envelope was thrust into my hands all too soon, and things started to seem a bit too real and ‘official’.

My own dilemma is the fact that I am torn between two completely opposite areas. Should I go down the science route? Medicine, pharmacy, veterinary, biomed, biochem? After all, I’m doing both Chemistry and Biology, as well as honours maths, so surely this is the route I should be taking? We’re told it’s the future of our world, the smart economy, it’s where the jobs and the high salaries will be.

Then at the completely opposite end of the spectrum, we have law, journalism and media. Last Saturday, I went to talk upon talk at the UCC open day. Everything was great and interesting and what have you, but when I was listening to that law talk, it was like something clicked. When the lecturer described a law student, it was like she was describing me. When she talked about career opportunities, it was what I wanted to hear. I left UCC completely set on either Law and Irish or Law International. I had found ‘the one’.

Not for long though. The little insecurities slowly started creeping back. Will I like it? Employment opportunities? Is science ‘safer’? Is science more ‘sensible’? Am I really a more scientific person? So we’re back to square one.

After going through all of this, I have two main issues with the CAO system:

1. How are 17 and 18 year olds expected to know what they want to do? I know this has been said a thousand times before, but it’s so, so true that I see no harm in it being said again. The guidance we receive in school is minimal. Proper career guidance should begin well before we need to begin worrying about CAO forms, ideally in third year. I know that 5th year subject choice has affected a lot of people, so Leaving Cert is too late to begin talking about college courses.

2. My main gripe lies with the points system. This, too, is nothing new, but it probably affects me more than number 1. I’ll say it straight. A1 students only do medicine because they can. They do it for the prestige, to show forever that they got 600 points in the Leaving Cert. How in God’s name could they ever contemplate doing something like Arts? Sure, no-one would even know they were intelligent then! Ha! And so, we end up with lots of unhappy students: those doing medicine who wish they were somewhere else, and those who wish they had gotten medicine, whose place was robbed by unhappy student type 1.

Of course there’ll be exceptions. There are many students who get 550+ and do the low-points courses, because they realise it’s all based on supply and demand. But for the vast majority of them, they’ll always feel the need to answer ‘BIS, but I was thinking of doing Pharmacy too..’, when asked what course they’re doing.

Tomorrow I have my careers interview with the guidance counsellor. Let’s hope she can work some magic.

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Hello again..

I am such a bad blogger, I do know that. There is no regularity whatsoever to Wintertime Clothes anymore, so much so that I don’t think I should bother trying to make anyone read it. If they do, then I’ll be delighted but it’s like it’s always on the back of my mind if I haven’t written a post in a while. It used to be sort of a daily blog, and I was good at keeping that up for a while but I can’t seem to do that these days. I love writing, I love it a hell of a lot, but if blogging’s going to become a chore then I don’t think I should bother trying to pretend that I do a post everyday. Maybe if I say right now that I’ll do one post a week, or two posts a week then I’ll manage to stick to that. I read somewhere once that blogs should be regular. That doesn’t mean posting everyday, but just post at the same time every day/week/month so that your readers know when to expect a post.

I also know that blog posts should be short. I’m not good at keeping things short though. Once I start writing I don’t want to stop and then I think of a topic that would make a good blog post but I don’t know whether to throw it into the middle or do a separate post straight afterwards about that topic. I usually go with the former meaning that this blog has no structure whatsoever apart from the fact that the post title will most definitely not be applicable by the last sentence. If you get my drift.

I think I first started blogging just to keep me writing regularly. An English teacher told me that you can’t just not practice writing and expect to get an A in your essay. She said just write, about anything and everything once you’re forming words into sentences and sentences into paragraphs in some coherent manner. Hopefully this is semi-coherent anyway.

If you like reading all this stuff that has no logical sequence whatsoever then I’m a very lucky blogger. Recently, I’ve kind of started thinking about trying to build up a bit of a portfolio or something. Some day in the near-ish future I’ll need to be sending CVs to newspapers looking for a bit of freelance work and I’ll need something to show them. I write here about once a week but to be quite honest this isn’t something I’d want to be sending to a newspaper editor. It’s fine for a blog, but that’s what it is. There are two articles I could include in my ‘portfolio’ so far, namely a piece that was published in the ‘Go’ travel supplement in the Times, and an article I wrote about Plugd Records which won an award in an Irish Times competition. This blog isn’t exactly on par with that stuff like..

Speaking of journalism and all that jazz, I’m beginning to think I should just do what I said I never would and do journalism in DCU or UL or somewhere. Forget that whole get-a-solid-degree-and-then-do-a-masters shite. Media studies in NUIM looks very tempting too because you can combine it with a arts degree so you take media and two arts subjects in first year, drop one of the arts and continue to degree level with media and one arts subject. There’s Irish and Journalism in DCU too but I don’t think that’s exactly what I’m after. Maybe I’ll completely change my mind by CAO time but at least I’m doing some bit of thinking about it all.

There’s two other things I was going to mention but I just found out that Reeling in the Years is on Youtube and I now feel like looking back on simpler times. Ahhh..

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Dublin. Oh yes.

So I’m here. In the big shmoke. The capital fecking city.

Yesterday was possibly one of the most hectic days of my life. I started out at Kent station at abput 6.10am and got the half six train to Dublin. Next up was the Luas red line into the city centre, followed by a caramel latte in Starbucks on College Green and a read of the Irish Times Weekend Review. I am too cool.

I met Jill outside Trinity and we headed off to the office on Tara Street. Now you all know where I’ll be everyday and come stalk me. That’s a comforting thought. The morning was fairly class I have to say. We had a briefing session as to what we’d be doing, and then the girls got to go off shopping for a summer fashion piece. I know it sounds extremely fun (to any girls reading this at least), but it was quite stressful, I swear! Running from Grafton Street to Henry Street isn’t very relaxing..

In th afternoon we had a meeting with the production editor which gave us a nice insight into journalistic writing and editing. Finished up about 6, and then it was off to the DART station (still with all my bags and luggage) and off to the cousins’ house. I had a lovely dinner with them, followed by strawberries and ice-cream and some meringue too. Then tea. No day is complete without a cuppa tea at the end.

Today I was in the office for half 9. We went to two features meetings with all the important editorial people. I want to be a journalist. I love it. I could do it every day, even if it is a tad scary. I mean, other people, lots of them, reading your words. Then there was a little more shopping for tights, because I was being forced to model the clothes we had bought yesterday.

We also realised no-one had a pair of Converse, which were vital for our outfit. We walked to the Merrion to collect Jill’s Converse and it’s safe to say we nearly died. We weren’t wearing the most comfortable shoes and it was warm and we were in a rush. We grabbed a sandwich in O’Brien’s after, and being the cosmopolitan, sophisticated young women we are, we got a taxi back to the office.

Then it was off up to the roof for the photo shoot. It was sunny and lovely but my face was sore from smiling. I’m used to pose-y faces in photos, not smiling. Then I sent an email, made a few calls, had a root through the drawers under my desk to see could I find any treasures. I did find a few alright. A pen, a shorthand notebook…amazing treasures, eh?!

And back on the DART to Connolly, and then the commuter train to Castleknock. Headed to Superquinn, did a little shopping, and now we’re just about to put on the BBQ out on the balcony. Sun is shining, food is good, and I’m smiling.

Later folks!

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