Diversity is a wonderful thing.
Whether it’s a cosmopolitan hubbub of noise or a multinational corporation, a blend of ideas, races and personalities is always a good quality.
I’ve always been interested in people’s sense of place, their perceptions and ambitions and what motivates them. Sitting in the pub last night, there was a melting pot staring me right in the face.
I’d got together for a rendezvous with Josh Halliday, who’s recently got a job as a media & technology reporter at the Guardian. As the afternoon progressed, Sirena Bergman (student journalist at Kingston), Heather Christie (City University) and Kaye Wiggins (Reporter at Third Sector magazine) all came along to the pub for a journalistic knees up.
I think what was so striking is that all of us had one thing in common; the love of storytelling, reporting and documenting. But our attitudes toward it were very different, and that’s what made it so fun.
The media has always been a heterogeneous career path. People get into it fresh from Oxbridge, or after working in I.T for ten years, or even because they have nothing better to do. Yes, it’s more competitive than ever, but now there’s a whole new range of possibilities and opportunities out there. You’ve heard this from countless media experts. “The internet has opened up media”, “we live in an era of free content exchange”, etc, etc, ad nauseum.
None of that is particularly relevant, but what is relevant are the motives and thoughts that are behind such output. We can be thought of as the “just do it” (don’t sue me, Nike) generation.
As Heather said when setting up The First Pint; “It just seemed like something good to do”.
What’s the worse that could happen? You fail? Then you regroup, think about why you failed, and try again. The fact that it can all be carried out at a low cost means most of your experiments can fall flat several times over before you really start to feel a financial burden.
What was my original point again?
All this encourages it, nurtures it. To have such a wide base of influences makes me optimistic about journalism, the potential and the prospects. Suddenly we can all tell incredibly niche-orientated and specific stories using several mediums. One of the things I have a bugbear with is people assuming you have to be a whizz with a camera to get any kind of good video documentation. A laptop and a decent phone will do for most these days.
As was discussed yesterday, if you like doing something, then why not pursue it, paid or unpaid? Yes, that grey financial cloud hangs over journalism like an uninvited guest at a party, but can we as journalists really change that? Not at the moment. So we may as well fill our time with productive and insightful reportage. After all, who else is going to do it?
I covered the Compass Conference (see below) just over a week ago. I was very encouraged by the positive response I got, and some people were surprised I wasn’t being paid as an official correspondent. The truth is that I just enjoy telling a story. Whether that’s through video, text or audio, I like painting a picture for people who aren’t present. It’s being a commentator in a literal sense, like an intelligent version of John Motson…
The best bit of feedback I got from Compass, and most likely ever. Warmed my cockles.
Whether you enjoy writing about political and social ills, or covering your local arts scene, the message is definitely “just do it”. I can’t think of a better time to just play around with ideas. No matter how silly or far-fetched they may be, the diversity that networked journalism now facilitates means that chances are, you’ll find someone else who’s thinking along the same lines.
Those of you who’ve read my posts about student journalism will know that I’m forever banging the drum for initiative and self-starter instincts. This can similarly be applied to staff writers, freelancers, or those in search of a career change. Yesterday really reinforced my belief that journalism today is thrilling and daunting in equal measure.
Go forth and experiment.
I’m er, sure we’ll work out the financial side of things soon…