So I know no-one wants to read yet another post about the future of journalism but it’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot recently. In particular the future of one particular journalist. After four years reporting on this part of the world it has come to my attention – and possibly the reader of this blog – that it is easy to become cynical and jaded, rejecting charity or peace initiatives in Somalia, or Darfur, or Kenya, because I know they won’t make any difference (because I reported them in 2005,6,7 – when they didn’t change anything then). Time to find somewhere that freshens my eyes.
I had been hoping that one of the many newspapers to which I contribute would by now have offered me a new posting, shipped my stuff and generally eased me up from stringer to staffer – or some point in between. But three-and-a-half months after I applied for a job with one of my papers, and with no word on any decision, it seems that maybe it is up to me to start again somewhere else.
And why nail my colours to the mast of an, erm, sinking ship anyway? We all know newspaper circulations are dropping every day and more and more people are taking their news from the internet – maybe from a newspaper website or maybe not.
I’m already writing for a clutch of different papers, the odd website and doing occasional bits of radio. Busy days are very busy and the money is enough to live off. My blog, Twitter account and Facebook profile have all brought in work and generated ideas for stories (all right – allowed me to pinch other people’s ideas), so why would I want to give up all that for a staff job with a proper business card?
I guess one answer is credibility. Some people never seem comfortable with my yahoo email address. And who’s to say I’m a proper journalist? But then journalism is not a profession (despite the protestations of my American colleagues) and all you really need “are rat-like cunning, a plausible manner and a little literary ability”, as Nicholas Tomalin once wrote.
Another is that I like being associated with newspapers that have a history and a sense of their place in society. When I turned up in rough Glasgow housing estates, the fact that I was the man from The Herald counted for more than my specs and English accent. But then I suppose that’s just me being sentimental.
So while I have no intention of passing my hat around to fund reporting trips, I appear to have found myself pursuing what might be the future of journalism. Now I just need to work out where that might be.