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  • So much to do. So little time

    Just finished a 2500 word essay. So weird to go from writing minimal, pared down journalese with ‘that’ treated like a swearword, and clean simple sentences with no extra or complicated clauses, to flowery, academic writing.

    I’m trying not to think about everything I have to do over the next month. Originally I was thinking that the two weeks I have after semester ends, but before my internship, I should use to try and get more hours at work.

    But I think that a) I’ll need to work on my shorthand and b) rest up!

    For MC3, I have another essay and an exam.

    Shorthand, another test which I need to pass to graduate.

    PAR, a media law test and a mixed group/individual project.

    Editing and Design, a three page design project plus 1000 word essay, and laying out the newspaper at the end of semester.

    News Reporting, a stats test, and possibly a style and grammar test, I’ve got to get some more photos done, and keep up with at least one finished story a week.

    Whew. I think I’ll take some downtime tomorrow, then get cracking on the weekend. Have to hunt down something local….

  • My eyes

    are bugging out from staring at my computer screen all day.

    But I’m really glad to be working on this story – it’s a really nice, local piece and I hope it gets printed. It’s nice to be able to help someone out. Someone humble and deserving.

    I wish I was that good of a person.

    Although sure, community news is sometimes dull and unimaginative, there’s also so much opportunity to dig down and get colourful local pieces who would otherwise never get heard.

    Definitely worth it.

  • Got my first story in by deadline this week…oh, the stress. There’s no down time either. It’s straight onto the next one – no time to breathe, it’s all go go go, gotta be AHEAD because you’re relying on other people and sometimes they won’t get back to you and the whole thing falls through.

    I’m SO paranoid about misquoting people though. That and maybe implying attitudes that are stronger than they are, or putting too much of a negative spin on things.

    This stuff isn’t easy.

    Hunting down stories is another whole thing; I used to think stories just came to you, tipoffs, events, etc. Nope, you gotta find them. Especially as we’re on community papers – lots of human interest, and vital local news is usually already covered.

    I’ve got one brewing for next week and another on the go. Next week’s one is sort of following up on one I did last year that got butchered by the mag, and I want it to have a fair go. I’m hoping I can still get in touch with my main interviewee – I’m not sure if she’s still teaching at the same place, and I get the feeling she’s not. That’s a hurdle for next week methinks.

  • Self doubting

    writing_tablet

    Now I’m into journalism, I’m feeling conflicted. I know it’s the right choice, it’s what I want to do and there’s nothing else I’m interested in, in terms of major.

    It’s way easier to move into PR and marketing than vice versa, and I wouldn’t mind trying my hand at publicity at some point.

    But in terms of journalism, well I’m having major self doubts. How am I going to find stories every week? I mean, I know it’s possible – thousands of past students have done it. But without press releases landing on your desk, without a huge social network or connections, without involvement in tons of groups and the community, it’s really daunting. Let alone breaking important news…

    And in terms of actually working post grad, then what? I’m definitely into beauty, but by no means am I any sort of authority. I’ve come to enjoy hard news more, but I don’t think it’s where I want to stay. Especially since I’ve noticed a pattern: something happens, something bad, kneejerk reaction, go to authoritative sources to comment and report on subsequent ‘calls for action’ whether it’s tougher laws, smoke alarms, more lifeguards, more police, cracking down on drink driving, whatever. And it seems kinda of repetitive and lame to me. One negative event doesn’t warrant a full on banning of whatever is at fault, especially when it happens over and over.

    Being a columnist certainly looks fun, though I don’t know what on earth I’d ramble on about. Then again, look at stuff like the Listener (a mag I do enjoy!) and Bill Ralston’s Life column, the Inbox column, the Internaut…. My opinions aren’t strong enough on REAL issues, as yet, and I definitely couldn’t defend any of my views very well at all. And frankly, I hate conflict. Which is no good, and I’ll have to develop a much thicker skin, I know.

    I think I’d really like to get into features, especially music writing. Ever since I stopped playing guitar my love of music has waned. I used to religiously have the radio on, and listen to music on my computer 24/7. I haven’t had the radio on in months, and because I only just figured out how to make the new Windows Media Player sync with my music folder, I wasn’t listening to my songs. I’m hoping to get back into playing guitar later on, now that I’ve realised it really is okay to just putter around and play for the hell of it. I was getting too worked up, too focused on GETTING GOOD and it simply wasn’t fun or relaxing anymore. I wasn’t improving and I just couldn’t play standing up. Now I really don’t care whether I can play upright or not, or whether I can play Astronomy perfectly, I’d just like to get back in the zone of playing for hours, just because. And I think tying that in with writing would be amazing. I love being at gigs, I like the buzz of events. I would be keen as to do reviews and interviews and be part of the scene that way.

    I’ve almost convinced myself! But anyway, that’s still a far far distant dream; there’s lots to get through before that point. As time goes on though, I’ve realised it’s okay to not actually know what you want. So many people don’t. even ones much, much older than me. They don’t have all their shit together, and so I’m not gonna panic. Careers today are so much more dynamic, and it’s not that hard (at least in the media field, from what I can see) to move laterally, sideways, or even transition from sales to editorial. And with the web growing by the day, hopefully there will be lots of online opportunities come next year.

  • Am I doing the right thing?

    I’ve been thinking, A LOT, about the future and what it holds. Escaping to Europe after graduation is sounding really tempting. Not straight away of course, after working and saving for a few months. I don’t know what kind of job I’d be able to get overseas, but I think I definitely have the itch…

    To a lesser degree I’ve been thinking about my degree, and whether I made the right choice. Would I be where I am today if I was doing a plain old BA? Who knows? Probably not. But maybe in the long run it would serve me better; I’d have a wider, more rounded base of knowledge. And I know people with BAs who’ve gone straight into media type work and then stepped into PR right after that, which makes me wonder why bother with a BCS?

    But I think stories like that are the exception rather than the norm, and you need, often, to be in the right place at the right time. You need to be a certain kind of person, social, networking, well connected usually, and it helps if you’re attractive and, if you’re working in mags, well off enough that you can dress and act the image.

    I’ve found it hard to keep the blog at work going; I’m not really out and about doing awesome things or being seen at society events, or going to fab restaurants or buying new accessories/makeup/beauty stuff that could be written up. I’m certainly not in the loop to hear about upcoming events, I rely on the other staff to keep me up to date and let me know if there’s anything important coming up that should go online. It takes a lot of my time digging around trying to find tidbits for the blog!

    I’ve also started to really question my writing ability. I swear I’m slowly dumbing down; my vocab is shrinking and I can rarely ever get the right adjective that I want…instead I dance around it in my head and have to consult a thesaurus to pin it down. It’s really frustrating! A dear friend said I was the best writer ever, which was very sweet of her but I really don’t think I can live up to that anymore. Writing on cue is hard. Writing to deadline is near impossible. I fear I’ll never be able to churn out the best writing I can on tight news deadlines. It’s hard enough trying to hammer out a good piece of fluff for the site or newsletter in a day…

    So I’m doubting my future in writing, it’s not looking all that bright at the moment. I’m also sick of mag language; the liberal use of exclamation points and the overuse of ‘fabulous’ (it seriously appears in every other paragraph).

  • Inspiration

    Sometimes our humdrum everyday journalism makes me cringe. i’ll flick through the newspaper and sympathise with the reporters who have to write about petrol prices, or rates increases, or funding for schools. but i was really proud today to read the herald’s stuff on nia glassie. i hadn’t really been able to bring myself to read more than the bare details of the case; it saddened and horrified me too much. but today i read it all every single word. i was disgusted, revolted, and i imagine the journos were too. but they made good on an incredibly hard job. it reminds me of something robert fisk said when he spoke at aut. We have to be impartial, yes, but on the side of those who are suffering.
    i hope one day i will be able to write with the same grace and empathy they did.


  • So I got my copy of Verve with my two stories published (although without a byline) last week, along with my cheque. YAY!!

    However – my wharf story was hideously edited and chopped out any mention of opposing viewpoints. I was so proud of managing to get comment from an informed resident who didn’t agree with the proposal. That was ALL edited out. Pretty disappointed. I hope to be able to use the story in full next year for my portfolio, and maybe follow the issue up later as well seeing as it’s going to be an ongoing one. Just goes to show how much business interests affect editorial. I guess they wouldn’t want to piss off one of their big supporters.

    I desperately hope the lady I interviewed does not see the mag, seeing as after all that hassle, everything I wrote about her was cut – and she was so passionate.

  • Bullet points

    • I’ve always dismissed the idea of being a freelancer. Freelancers are flakey, insecure, don’t get benefits. I didn’t think I would have the discipline to get anything done if I didn’t go into an office every day. But writing for Verve and Cafe Philosophy this year has shown me that i could, in fact work from home. It would be really  nice in some ways. No more rushing around in the mornings or waiting for buses that are invariably late.
    • I’ve been finding it hard to draw the line between advertorial and editorial. Writing my Unitec story, for example. But I think an easy way to look at it is to see if there are any news values, ie, writing about Unitec if it was just opening, vs what I wrote about the courses it offers – basically a plug for them
    • I was freaking out not long ago about being 20. Two entire decades. But at some point I realised that I have plenty of time. The general plan is to work for a couple of years, then go overseas once the boy gets qualified (he’d be a couple of years behind me) and then work/travel for a year or two. then, in theory, come home and hopefully be able to buy some sort of place to live in. By then I’d still only be in my late 20s – not even 30. Pleeeenty of time.