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All work, no pay.

October 4, 2010

Last week I sat through a lecture in online journalism with the great Paul Bradshaw. Fascinating though the lecture was, it brought to light information which, although not particularly newsworthy, still has the ability to strike fear into the hearts of budding newspaper journalists throughout the world.

Throughout the two-hour long lecture we were consistently reminded about the growth of multi-media journalism and the decline of our beloved newspapers, forcing each of us to ask ourselves: “What am I doing here…?” I do not believe that any student on the Newspaper Journalism MA is deluded enough to believe that their chosen career path will bring them unimaginable riches and power, but to be told that you are chasing a dream which lies within the heart of a dying industry is perhaps a little disheartening!

Roy Greenslade, Guardian blogger and City University lecturer, posted a blog this morning which was entitled How badly to you want to be a reporter? and detailed an advert from Illinois Valley News who are looking for a new reporter. Admittedly not the most exciting of publications, or indeed the most interesting of advertisment subjects however, what caught Mr. Greenslade’s attention was the wording of the advert itself. It was titled LONG HOURS, LOW PAY and read;

How bad do you want to be a reporter? Bad enough to work nights and weekends? The poor glutton for punishment that’s chosen will cover city and county government, sports and general interest feature stories.

In exchange for your long hours and tireless efforts you will be rewarded with low pay and marginal health insurance. Please send resume, and 3 writing samples to This is a full time salaried position located in the beautiful northwest.

Mr. Greenslade quite rightly asked: “Is this the world’s most honest journalist recruitment ad?”

In all honesty, although I found the ad incredibly amusing and original, it scares me to death. Essentially this seemingly casual advertisment highlights, with brutal sincerity, the severe instability and the intensely competitive nature of my ‘dream career’. I can’t pretend that working as a reporter for Illinois Valley News is top of my list of post-MA jobs, but I think we all need to face up to the harsh reality of the world of journalism and, to quote Gary Moskowitz, ‘be journalism sluts’ and take whatever we can lay our hands on.

The journalistic journey continues. Ah, the life of a postgrad.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. October 6, 2010 12:53 pm

    Nice post Charlie, not sure I agree with your mate blogowitz about being journalism sluts. Yes we need to get involved as much as we can but we also need to remember that we have our strengths and weaknesses.

    Some of us can write for England and therefore blogging is perfect platform but for others it is spur of the moment that works, a hook, an investigation and therefore a blog may not be well updated because it is totally self disciplined.

    Also, I don’t think we should be disheartened by the fact it’s a dying industry because (and this sounds horrendously chessy) we get to be the people to bring it back to life, to reform it, redesign it and remodel it for the new generation. That way we’ll definitely get jobs because we will have made the new journalism what it is! We might even earn a couple of quid in the process!

  2. October 8, 2010 4:10 pm

    I completely agree with your view that we, as the future of the industry so to speak, need to reform journalism so that it still has a place in today’s multi-media era. I think it is mostly my naivety about the topic that caused me to be so surprised by such a clear-cut view of the profession.
    However, I will, of course, endeavour to fight on, hopefully with fellow hacks such as yourself by my side (or with a knife in my back as we attempt to fight for those few remaining positions!).
    Either way, it’s safe to say that I’m here for the long run. I most certainly don’t intend to stop putting my opinionated, journalistic views out into cyber-space any time soon. Especially not as I’ve just worked out how to use this thing effectively!

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