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Quite a week… July 11, 2009

Posted by Matt Domm in Life, Random rants.
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Well, a week of ups and downs (mostly downs).

Last weekend, I had two interviews arranged (well, one recruitment day) set up for this week – good going as I’d not had one until this point. Today it is Saturday and neither of those happened.

Obviously I have no frame of reference, but I’m pretty sure it isn’t good interview technique if you phone your interviewee half an hour before the time and tell him “sorry, we’ve relocated our office – we can’t do the interview today.” Apparently, they’d only just got internet access to find my number… Didn’t go home for the weekend, then?

To cut a long story short – let’s face it, this isn’t interesting to anyone but me… I had to reschedule for the date the recruitment day was. The only reasons were: I thought I’d be better at this job, it was more money and it was a better location.

Turns out someone else was better or, apparently, Superman. The evening before my interview, a swift email told me the position had been filled – good job I have internet at home, isn’t it?

There is an upside – those of you still reading would be pleased to know – the website I’ve been working on behind the scenes is finally up, and I have been able to put effort in what with not going to interviews… So please take a look and let me know.

P.s. sorry for the long delay for such an awful post – I’ll update frequently from today onwards. Promise.

Pet hate #1: Morons who think they’re right… But are wrong! June 20, 2009

Posted by Matt Domm in Life, Pet hates, Random rants.
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I have a lot of pet-hates, but people thinking they’re right when you know 100% that they aren’t, is my biggest. I was reminded of my intolerance of such people whilst in my car recently.

If drivers must prove they are road-safe, then so should those who travel by foot. I propose a new law that pedestrians should be made to pass a ‘Green Cross Code test’ before stepping out of their houses.

If I, or anyone else, was to hit a pain in the arse pedestrian who doesn’t know the rules of the road then I’m certain the law would be more than happy to take my licence away when, realistically, the walker should have their feet sawn off.

No, I’m not confessing to any recent hit-and-runs – but I can give an example…

The other day I stopped at a red light. As I’m meant to, well done me. It was a pelican crossing (I even know the names) so I, of course, waited for people to cross the road until the light changed from red. This is where it gets tricky – there is no-one on the crossing at it starts to flash orange: which means, as we all know, that drivers must wait for people to get off the crossing but NO ONE CAN START TO CROSS.

Herein is the problem: just as I start to drive off – after making sure no-one is there – a couple decide that their lives are irrelevant, and start to cross while the lights are flashing amber. Of course I stop again but they are now taking the piss – the woman takes an age to get to the other side, so I help her across by edging towards my destination. Cue stupid woman thinking she is right, pointing at the lights while they flash to suggest I have done something wrong…

If there weren’t other cars behind me I would have happily walked with her to a bookshop to find her a copy of the green cross code, where I’m sure there’s a list of what crossings do what. Nothing winds me up more than know-it-alls who actually know fuck all.

She’d soon be sorry when she fails her ‘walking test’ on something so simple as lacking the common sense to cross the road… which makes me wonder actually how many accidents are caused by idiots like this.

Who else would feel a whole lot safer if pedestrians had to prove they are worthy of using roads – just as we drivers are?

Snippet of the week: – a touch of (unintentional) irony June 19, 2009

Posted by Matt Domm in News, Random rants.
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smithsIt’s taken until the very end of Friday to make my week, but something finally has. The manager of the Lewisham branch of WHS – presumably not a dad himself – has produced a piece of Father’s Day promotion straight out of April 1st.

According to the store, The Crimes of Josef Fritzl is a must-buy book this Sunday. No thanks, I’ll just get a book about football or jazz, or something equally sufficient for a dad – though I do wish I’d thought of doing this, my old man does have a sense of humour. Which reminds me, I must remember to drop his card through the basement door.

If you don’t want to jump on the inevitable bandwagon and buy this for your dad, perhaps you should instead look for the Sean Jenkins fatherhood manual – available at all good un-PC bookstores.

Yet more redundancies… June 19, 2009

Posted by Matt Domm in journalism.
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P45

Exciting news today from The Guardian. Exciting for a neutral, non-journalist wannabe, that is. Ten percent of the GNM staff is being laid off. Voluntary redundancies they say but, to me, losing your job is losing your job. Something which – in terms of journalism at least – I haven’t had the pleasure of experiencing.

This weekend – as I returned to my quaint home town from the quaint town I was in for three years at university- one of my friends said, bluntly: “so I see journos are being made redundant all over the place then?” Yes, yes, it’s harder than ever to get in to the industry; I mean, who would want to employ me when I’m up against journalists with CVs longer than my life? His next question I had to laugh at: “Have you got a job yet then?”…

If I had the choice, I would already be working on magazines – preferably as a feature writer, as that is what I enjoy and am best at – but right now I’d be lucky to find anything remotely in the realm of writing, or reading, even. Entry-level positions are rare – though I have applied for one on my local paper, meaning I would have to stay in my quaint home town for longer than I’d wish – and my overdraft limit is edging closer; so it still looks as though unpaid placements, with weekend work to pay for them, is the most likely option until people want journalists again.

This week I have applied for a couple of (loosely related) jobs, a few placements and am now researching feature ideas to attempt a pitch or two… Freelancing is looking more and more appealing, I just unfortunately haven’t got a strong specialty. But I guess at least I have ( a couple of) options and I most certainly won’t give up hope.

In fact, in future, I am just going to ignore reading tweets that mention anything about job cuts and instead reads blogs and articles about how to actually make it as a journalist. Like this forum post. Or else I’ll end up in PR… shudder.

Such a twit June 13, 2009

Posted by Matt Domm in journalism, Online, Twitter.
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twit

I am someone who – perhaps due to my journalist instincts… – likes to stay on top of trends and technology. At the same time, however, I am not someone who will jump on a bandwagon just to be part of the ‘in’ crowd. This is particularly true when it comes to celebrities – to put it as nicely as I can, I don’t give a shit what most of them have to say, and I care less what they are doing every hour of the day.

The bandwagon I am talking about is Twitter, and I didn’t sign up to it until just recently – after I started researching what on earth I can do with my career. The way I looked at it was if I wanted to know what my friends were up to, I’d ask – using my phone. Of course, in trying to get on top of journalism, I’ve realised it is so much more than a ‘status update’ and I must tap in to every market I can to (hopefully) get my break. That means as well as sending out CVs and applying for work placements, I must fill my contacts book and get my name out there (wherever “there” is). And Twitter seems to be leading the way in this respect.

I feel like a twit (excuse me) for not doing it before, but I have finally bitten the bullet and signed up to see what I can discover. Articles like this one from Paul Bradshaw advise how to use Twitter to your advantage in this profession – advice which I will take my time to try out, and perhaps discuss how I got on in the next week or so.

An interesting series was recently run on Fleet Street Blues, by Freelance Unbound and one post in particular caught my attention. He discusses how important it is to have fingers in every pie, so to speak, and I am working hard to keep abreast of everything in the journalism world. My course has taught me how to write news and features, how to sub and lay out copy, how to produce magazines and also how to blog, social bookmark and write online – but it is up to me to continue using the skills I have picked up and, crucially, continue to learn by myself. Which is what I am doing by joining Twitter.

Right now I don’t know whether I’ll be freelancing, a staff writer or doing placements until a paid opportunity arises, but I am certain that the more I know, and the more people I know, the more likely I will be to get my break. At least that’s my logical brain talking.

If anyone has had any success in journalism thanks to Twitter please leave a comment – and I will update my blog if I get anywhere with the advice I’ve found.

Oh… mattdjourno – if you want to ‘tweet’ me. See, nothing to it, really.

Working for free – the result of my degree June 5, 2009

Posted by Matt Domm in journalism, Life, work.
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It’s about time I wrote something relating to my field of expertise – journalism. I use that term as I assume a journalism degree at the very least allows me to call myself an expert – I can’t call myself a ‘journalist’ yet, let’s face it.

Four years ago, a letter to the editors of my local rags enquiring about a trainee scheme was, I hoped, my first step on what is an extremely long ladder. A very small step it proved to be as my applications were all routinely denied, except one. No, it didn’t offer me a place, merely advice on how to get into the industry.

I needed formal qualifications – an NCTJ accredited course or equivalent – to even become a junior. To cut a long story short here I am, four years later, clutching waiting for my degree – and I am most definitely not even a junior.

Instead, I have become qualified to whore myself out – for free – to anyone willing to accept my blood, sweat and (lots of) tears in exchange for a byline and a sentence on a piece of paper entitled ‘cv’. Be it writing for websites or interning at magazines, it is a tricky road to even get to the stage of charging for my effort, let alone making a living out of it.

With three placements recently completed and another lined up later in the year, and contributing to a couple of sport websites I am very slowly moving up the ladder to rung… two, probably. I imagine rung three is the holy grail of being paid in money rather than gratitude so, by my maths, I will be 25 by the time I can actually claim to be a proper journalist.

What an industry and what a price to pay for ambition… but I wouldn’t change it for the world.

I wonder if McDonalds is recruiting?

Hot Air Balloon pilot – the easiest job in the world? June 1, 2009

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They actually fly these things?

They actually fly these things?

Where do I apply? As far as I can tell, the only experience I need is that I can wait for a phone call to tell me I don’t need to fly today – now, I’ve never flown anything but, from my experience of air balloon flights, so far  nor have they, surely?

What a fantastic weekend of weather we’ve had; the birds loved it, the bees loved it but, alas, it has been too windy for me to take my girlfriend on a floating basket – a gift I bought for her birthday, last November. That’s right, windy – and how can I argue with their “safety levels”?

Usually when I think of the weather as ‘windy’, I imagine full-grown men fighting for their lives on the seven seas; not a small tree outside my window gently swaying in the whirlwind created by a butterfly flapping its wings. Which, in case you’re wondering, is what I was looking at when I listened to the recorded message cancelling our fourth attempt at this cursed experience.

At midday, I could see why the flight might have been cancelled – I mean a flag on St Andrew’s church was billowing – but by the evening it was as calm as Mother Theresa and Ghandi’s love-spawn. If I were in charge of one of these companies that supposedly operates balloon flights, I would have waited until I could see the wind was fading from 0.5 mph to nothing; I think the exact sentence the robot told me was “The winds will not have died down enough to be able to fly.” I have no idea who sends them their weather updates but I’m pretty sure I heard Michael Fish whispering in his ear.

The closest we’ll be getting to any ‘hot air’ is when I phone the company tomorrow morning to rearrange the date. Hopefully I’ll get lucky and next time it will be clear, dry and calm – that’ll be the flight cancelled then.

I can’t help but feel they’re taking me for a ride…

If only they would.

Bravery was once a meaningful trait… May 30, 2009

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Apparently all you need to be brave in this millennium is the ability to fail, dust yourself off and start again.

Now, things I see on TV rarely make me think outside the hour it takes to actually watch a programme, but last night I did. Britain’s Got Talent was the show. It made me think of my poor ancestors who had fought and died for their country, only for it to reward them with ‘brave’ acts such as failing to sing a song first time around and fluking another shot at it.

Ok, the girl is ten years old, I get it, but wasn’t there a girl of six who was in the final a few years ago? I don’t remember her being brave for managing to sing her way through the contest without choking. I can see some people saying “but she got back up there and nailed it”, well, it was more uncomfortable than brave and the real heroes are the ITV producers willing to risk their ratings just so Hollie could get it right. Would there have been a third time? Would she have still got through? Would that have won her the George Cross, presented to her at the Royal Variety show? The answer to all three is; probably, yes, especially if Piers Morgan and Amanda Holden had their way. Dame Hollie Steel? Maybe, after  a fourth attempt… and what a fitting surname she has, though Hollie Braveheart would work as well.

Speaking of Piers Morgan, I think his exact words were: “That is the bravest thing I have ever seen.” Something like that anyway and if he is serious I will retract my opinion that the former News of the World editor is cultured. Surely he has seen, in his years, a more heroic act than that? I know I have, just last week I saw someone wearing orange and pink in the same outfit. Perhaps Piers is just confused and actually believes his claim that this show is the biggest in the world?

Growing up, I was fed the story of  St George, my national hero slaying a dragon, showing no fear to the ferocious beast. Perhaps for future generations the icon of all things brave will instead be a small child, in full ballerina attire wobbling her way through a song in a contest. Or perhaps simply a solitary Eidelweiss… Britain, for shame.