Journo student: Thoughts and exploits

After we graduate…
March 26, 2009, 5:06 pm
Filed under: journalism, magazines | Tags: , , ,

So, in my panic about the lack of jobs in the media I decided to find out what my fellow City students had lined up for after they graduate and what one of our tutors did when he graduated during the last recession…

In order- Izzy Janner, Nicola Davison, Jo Abeyie, Ali Plumb, Patrick (from the newspaper course) and John Rennie (City university tutor)



As the end of my journalism course becomes slightly more visible, panic is definitely starting to grow. Whispers of “job” and “internship” can be heard floating around the department and that niggling little worry that there are actually no jobs to be had in the media is beginning to surface.


Anxious questioning of fellow students reveals that, in fact, we are all in the same crammed and nervy boat. Hardly anyone has anything lined up for when they finish and everyone is still pretty clueless about how to go about finding anything. Far from reassuring me that I am not alone, I am acutely aware that there will be 46 of us released into the job arena at the same time, vying for minimum wage internships and editorial assistant jobs at Total Karp. And that’s just on the City magazine course.


While we are reassured by tutors that jobs will indeed materialise, I am becoming more unnerved by the day. An event held by Women in Journalism last week in Islington made it clear that coming straight out of a postgraduate course and into a job is becoming more unlikely. Maureen Rice, editor of Psychologies magazine commented on how internships are fast becoming the only way to get into a paid job on a magazine.


This may be the case for many magazines but I wonder how much of a waste of time it is to do an internship that doesn’t lead straight into a job. I did some work experience at Easy Living magazine over Christmas and was working along side a six-month-er who was coming towards the end of her minimum-wage internship. She told me how she was struggling to live in London on minimum wage and was hoping that this internship would leave to a permanent position at the magazine and a pay increase.


While I was there she was called into a meeting and told that they would not be taking her on after her six months were up as the magazine had no positions available. She was suddenly completely jobless and I don’t think my interjections of, “at least it will look good on your C.V” did much to console her.


So, even if you manage to get into an internship, there is no guarantee that this will lead into a job. A friend of mine from my course has decided to turn this job-drought into an opportunity to go abroad for a few months and take some journalistic work in Shanghai. This is starting to sound enviable. Ruth Gledhill told us that if we ever wanted to go travelling for a year, this is certainly the year to do it. Either that or, as Maureen Rice said that many young journalists are doing, turn from journalism to PR. God, I think I know which one I’d prefer.



Do you need to be religious to be a religious reporter?

As part of my journalism course, I specialise in world faiths. At the beginning of the course I quickly began to realise that I knew nothing about religion and started to question my place on the specialism. I was studying to be a reporter of world faiths, training to convey important religious issues to those who knew far more about it than I did. I failed to see to how my coverage of or opinion on religion was worth anything. I mean, I have never been religious and grew up in a secular household.

Once into the course I began to realise that I was wrong and that you don’t actually have to be religious to be a religious reporter. World Faiths has turned out to be one of the highlights of my course. Religious site visits and interviews have actually taught me a lot about different religions and through these I have begun to develop my own opinions of them.

Last Friday, one of our tutors Ruth Gledhill, faith correspondent for The Times, gave us a crash course in becoming a religious reporter. She explained that objectivity is key when reporting on religion so not belonging to one doesn’t make you any less likely to report accurately. Ruth told us that being a good religious reporter is not about being religious; it’s about following certain rules like in any other area of journalism. It’s about doing the right research, not using a story to teach or preach and letting people label themselves.

Religion, in our community,is much more than believing, or not believing in something. People are all motivated by faith, in one way or another in their lives. The point is, religion provokes opinion and activity and activity provokes news.

“Journalism is power-must be”
March 5, 2009, 12:26 pm
Filed under: journalism, journalism student
Flickr image courtesy of Johnthurm

Flickr image courtesy of Johnthurm

This Monday, our Roy Greenslade lecture dealt with the hefty issue of political journalism. More specifically, the media domination of politics and how the British political system is little more than a cowering victim under the thumb of the callous British media who are ‘ravenous for conflict.’

Of course, these weren’t Greenslade’s views but those of John Lloyd- contributing editor at the FT and author of ‘What the Media Are Doing to Our Politics.’ Lloyd thinks that the media completely dominates politics and is only interested in power and conflict-finding it and making it. If this is the case, he thinks, then our freedom  is severely compromised. If this is the case, then Lloyd might just be right.

But, is the public mistrust of government due mainly to the spin of hungry journalists? Can it really be said that British journalism, as an institution is primarily concerned with the destruction of polititians for the sake of sales? And, as one person commented in the lecture, why are politicians becoming so enraged and upset if it is so easy to see through the media anyway?

There is no denying the competitive drive of the British media but the salient question is- what should journalism be? Lloyd wrote an article in the Guardian a couple of weeks ago saying: “Journalism is power-must be, if it is to hold other powers to account.” Holding powers to account should surely not the aim of the media. As Greenslade noted, informing about all kinds of powers should be the aim, so that the public can hold them to account. 

Whether this is true of the British media today is an entirely different question.