Archive for March 2009

Starting at the Top

March 29, 2009

You always think you are going to be OK. You read the newspapers, go online, watch the news and listen to the radio. And no matter what you hear or read you always think you are going to be OK.

Following the job losses at Manchester Evening News, Media Guardian led with the job losses and journalist strikes that followed the job losses. It was a bleak Monday. Like they aren’t bad enough already, and there were 27 newspaper journalism postgraduate students coming to the end of a long, tiring and stressful term. A fun term, but a tiring one. The light was at the end of the tunnel, just some law coursework to do, a few more production days and that was that, one step closer to that journalism job. Then we see Media Guardian. No jobs, no prospect of jobs, falling circulations, papers switching to online. Doom and gloom for hacks and aspiring hacks everywhere.

And I think it was at this moment I actually thought, “Maybe it’s not going to be OK after all.” Here we are slogging our guts out to prove we have what it takes to pass this prestigious course and go into the cut-throat world of journalism. But is it all for nothing? Are we all in the wrong industry?

My colleagues have started to talk about going into PR, sales and marketing but it seems even that isn’t a safe bet as search engine giant Google announces 200 job losses.

So what do I do? Should I pack my bag and go globetrotting again? Should I stay with education and hide behind another course until the recession passes? Should I graduate and take any job offer that goes? Or should I be optimistic and believe that the perfect journalism job is out there waiting for me?

Tomorrow marks my first day of work placement and I have been lucky enough to have been accepted onto The Evening Standard. What a way to start! I hope this is only the beginning of what my life as a journalist is going to be like – start at the top and keep on climbing because no matter what I read, I really do think I am going to be OK.



Northern Ireland and Me

March 18, 2009

Years of hatred, bloodshed, revenge, misery, fear and discrimination. And we thought it was finally over. We were wrong.

I don’t ask for much in life. I never have. All I ever want is for me, my family and friends to be healthy, happy and safe. I don’t think that is a lot to ask. We all want world peace, but it’s a sad fact of life we have come to accept that this will never be achievable. But I don’t think it is too much to ask for the country I was brought up in to be at peace after years and years of a deep-seated war.

My family still live there, and one day, if I decide I want a family, maybe I’ll return. Yet with the selfish acts of violence and terrorism at the hands of dissident republicans, Northern Ireland might not have a future.

I often get asked what Northern Ireland is like – was I affected by the Troubles and what is it like now? Being from a border town which was almost ruined by the Troubles in the sixties, we were, for a very long time, affected by things. You couldn’t leave my town from either side without having to go through an army barracks and produce papers, telling the soldier with the gun where exactly you were going, what the reason was and when you were planning on coming back. Being a child, one of the only things I remember was thinking he spoke with a funny accent. I also remember his gun.

Similarly, I remember British soldiers patrolling my neighbourhood, with their guns. Just walking and looking. Sometimes they’d squat and take aim at something, though they’d never shoot. Sometimes they were in my garden hiding or watching or just passing through. It was just something I learned to grow up with.

On July 12, things usually took off. I was never allowed to leave the house. When I got older, things died down a little bit more year after year. But there were still riots. One burned car, a couple of petrol bombs and police in riot gear still constitutes a riot, however small.

But things came to an end and we finally got our peace. Northern Ireland’s political leaders made history. Yet I think all of us, in some way, were waiting for the inevitable to happen. The hatred has run too deep and too many tears and blood have been shed for people to simply forgive and forget.

And the inevitable did happen. The Continuity IRA and the Real IRA have ruined the hopes of everyone in Northern Ireland. Parents’ hopes their children won’t have to grow up with what they grew up with, the older generation’s hopes they will die having seen peace in Northern Ireland at last, political leaders’ hopes they have put an end to years of sectarian war and my hopes that one day, maybe I can return to where I came from without having to worry about whether or not it is safe.

Gerry Adams, Martin Mc Guiness, Ian Paisley and Peter Robinson all united in their opposition to the murder of the three innocent men in the space of three days. After decades of these men opposing almost everything the other stood for, maybe everyone else can take a leaf out of their book and realise Ireland does not want a war anymore. Even the IRA have said their war is over.

The people responsible for these attacks cannot think they can bring the peace process to an end.  I am confident and pray every day that this is not the end. I know I am not alone.

The Wonder That is Twitter (and Rob Brydon)

March 10, 2009

Another day, another blog about the wonder that is Twitter! I haven’t been very forthcoming on the old blog front lately and can only blame my up-and-coming journalist career combined with exams and stressing about the death of journalism as a reason (laziness had nothing to do with it of course).

So why is Twitter so brilliant, apart from the obvious reasons, I hear you ask? I will tell you the story of my week as Cardiff School of Journalism’s art’s editor.

Our weekly art’s supplement, Hwyl – the spirit of the weekend – comes out every Friday and, it being Comic Relief this week, I thought I’d do a special Comic Relief edition. So a Comic Relief special edition in Wales would need a celebrity interview with links to both. But who would it be? Well of course it would have to have been Ruth “Nessa” Jones and Rob “Bryn” Brydon, our very own home-grown talent who are singing this year’s Comic Relief single with Tom Jones and Robin Gibb.


Now how on earth was I going to get such huge celebrity names for an art’s supplement with very little readership and no circulation (it is an internal publication for training purposes)?

First stop was obviously going to be their PR agents. After a few phone calls and even more emails I was feeling a little confident that I would be able to get at least one of them.

A phone call at the weekend from Tidy Productions confirmed Ruth Jones would indeed give me an interview, all I had to do was email the questions. An email interview is better than no interview at all so I was happy.

My happiness was shortlived however when I got a rather blunt email from Rob Brydon’s PR firm telling me he was simply much too busy promoting the single and touring this week and they were really sorry. At least they had the decency to apologise.

But I wasn’t done yet. Being his Twitter follower after recently discovering the wonder that is Gavin and Stacey, I thought I would Twitter him. As Doctor Pepper would say, “What’s the worst that could happen?”

Well the lovely man replied and said he would do the interview no problem and would call me when he had time after I gave him my number!

Now can anyone tell me how I would have got the interview without Twitter? Just one tweet and he was mine. Although Rob Brydon obviously being a very lovely and down-to-earth-man had a big part to play in it all as well.

So thanks to Rob and thanks to Twitter, you’ve made my day, and probably my art’s supplement!