I spend most of my time on this blog commenting on the media at large, on other people’s efforts or wider issues spurred on by personal experiences. So allow me this one indulgence of combining two pet hates of mine; ‘List’ posts and blogging about myself. What I’m going to focus on here are media related matters and goals I have for the new year.
1. Dedicate more time to Blog Preston
As some of you may know, I co-edit Blog Preston, the hyperlocal website for Preston, Lancashire in my spare time. The great thing about it is the freedom that’s been granted to me over the last 6 months; I can dictate my own terms and decide to put as much or as little into a story as I want.
Successes have mainly centred around our live event coverage, be that the impact of the government cuts or the general election. It’s a style that was largely unfamiliar to me before contributing to Blog Preston, but one which serves certain news stories very well. Apart from improving my own cross-platform skills, liveblogging can be a tipping point for a whole host of other stories and content. This was particularly true for our coverage of the EDL march, which apart from getting us record hits also allowed us to mine a local business angle, a video package, and an audio slideshow as well as the initial write up and live blog.
So what for the future? Put simply; do more. Since Ed Walker set up Blog Preston in 2009 it’s grown and grown. I’ve got plans to establish the town’s first Social Media Cafe, something that I’m passionate about and will hopefully bring a whole lot more discussion and community to individuals and local businesses. There’s also plans to invest in advertising for local businesses on the site, as well as potential expansion and collaboration with other local organisations in the pipeline.
All these bells and whistles are fantastic, and something I’m really excited about, but they fall down unless we continue doing what we do; producing local content that serves our community. To that end I want to step up the content production from my end and also encourage more readers to use our platform to talk about the issues that matter to them.
2. Be a better journalist
I’ve done a fair amount this year, and been involved in loads of great projects including journalism.co.uk, the Frontline Club and Blog Preston. All that is superb, and it’s been as enjoyable as it has been a learning curve, but what I occasionally can’t shake from my head is that I’m not really doing journalism anymore.
This blog has come in for some low level recognition, as have the other things I’ve been involved with, which is great. But a lot of it involves views, deconstruction, community management, moderation, digital and social media know how. It’s become apparent to me that what I want to do in the future may have changed significantly, I just don’t know what to!
What I do know is that I want to be involved in some way with the production and process of journalism if not necessarily being on the front reporting line (like this).
Does such a position exist, and would I be hired at an entry level? Unlikely. So the goal for 2011 is to simply keep plugging away at being a better journalist, avoiding those typos, being persistent and tip-toeing around libel.
3. Find a specialism
This is an interesting one. Ostensibly it’d seem that my specialism is having a keen grasp of multimedia potential within journalism, as well as a passion for digital media. But therein lies a quandry. Areas like finance, politics and science are in some sense, locked in time. They continue to evolve and change, weave in and out of fashion and create new sub-genres, theories and principles, but expertise in these areas largely relies on understanding and interpreting a fixed structure of rules and applying them to contemporary situations.
Technology, on the other hand, moves much faster. And as it moves much faster, so the need for all journalists to grasp a basic understanding of it gathers pace. What I’m trying to say is; Am I running the risk of becoming irrelevant in 2 years time when multimedia becomes even more commonplace amongst hacks in the newsroom? It’s still unclear exactly what employers want from young journalists, and what looks accomplished now may well become the norm as we approach the middle of the decade. It’s only a matter of time before my extra knowledge starts to become a normality rather than a specialism.
So to that end I’d like to develop some kind of speciality that’s less transient and more tangible. Maybe it could be a more clear understanding of media matters and the future of journalism, or improving my Ukrainian so that I’d feel comfortable writing articles in another language, who knows. Either way I want to find something to latch onto whereby people might point in my direction if the question “Who’s an expert in…X?” is posed.
They’re my trio of New Year’s Resolutions. You’ll see no more self-centred writing for at least another 355 days.