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Yet more redundancies… June 19, 2009

Posted by Matt Domm in journalism.
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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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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?