- Student protests: NUS vote (December 6)
- Student protests: Cambridge occupation (December 3)
Over the weekend I visited three university occupations for a G2 feature.
While visiting student occupations for my g2 feature, I also filed two news stories:
- NUS president apologises for “spineless dithering” (see below)
- NUS president reneges on legal promise (see the post at 9.56am)
Here’s my article about a Margaret Thatcher-themed nightclub.
I attempted to break the hopping world record this week. I failed, utterly, but you can read about my effort – as well as Lucy Mangan and Leo Hickman’s sprout- and doughnut-eating exploits – right here. There was also a nice picture of me on the cover.
The news desk sent me up to Cambridge to do this piece on Cambridge students involved in the Millbank occupation.
I wrote my first Pass Notes last Friday. All very exciting, as PN was what I turned to first when I started reading the paper.
G2 sent me off to open Tower Bridge all by myself.
My feature about an exciting ‘interactive online play’. As I termed it.
My second G2 cover-story – a 3000-word feature about gap year tourism in Thailand.
- Caught off guard in his favourite blue shirt (G2, 2nd Sept)
- The most successful Dragon’s Den pitch ever? (G2, 24th August)
- Return of the cape (G2, 21st August)
- Sport’s latest sensation: a rubbery bracelet (G2, 2nd August)
- Behind you! Meet Paul Yarrow – TV’s ‘news raider’ (G2, 29th July)
- Petanque: a brief guide (G2, 28th July)
- How to sail around the world the wrong way (G2, 26th July)
- Vampire Weekend’s legal face-off (G2, 26th July)
- The ugliest perfume names ever (G2, 22nd July)
My first G2 cover – a 2000-word feature about literature’s answer to the Slow Food movement.
G2 were putting together a camping special – and I was asked to write a feature about the history of the tipi
- Space clouds: a briefing (G2, 19th July)
- What next for Paul the psychic octopus? (G2, 12th July)
- Sports Day: a survival guide (G2, 7th July)
- How to make your CV work (G2, 6th July)
- When can kids cycle on their own? (G2, 5th July)
And some even smaller fry:
- How to identify a large blue butterfly (G2, 18th July)
- Once we were teenagers (G2, 16th July)
- My Week: Bav Shergill, dermatologist (G2, 22th June)
I wrote a double-page feature for G2 last week which attempted to defend the much-hated font Comic Sans.
The print edition looked like this:
- Ousted MP goes on the dole (Guardian, 11 June 2010)
- Politicians’ ties: why green is the new purple (G2, 9 June 2010)
- Spiderman saves London – in 4D (G2, 3 June 2010)
- Megan Fox’s mystery tattoo (G2, 2 June 2010)
- Johnny Marr interview (G2, 8 June 2010)
- Which costs more – a Ferrari, or this watch? (G2, 10 June 2010)
“A government with some Lib Dem input is better than one without any at all.”
My new blogpost on Varsity.co.uk. [Update: December 2010: I was wrong.]
How Blur’s drummer became a Labour candidate (Guardian, p.16-17, 27th April)
“The media’s mephedrone coverage has been at best misinformed, and at worst wilfully misleading”: my new blogpost on Varsity.co.uk.
Another couple of pieces in the Guardian:
- The sound of silence (Guardian, p.4, 16th April)
- Lap-dancing clubs may take cases to Strasbourg court (Guardian, p.12, 20th April)
I’ve written / co-written a few pieces for the Guardian this week:
- Local residents given powers to block lap-dancing clubs (Guardian, p.17, 7th April)
- North pole marathon due to begin (Guardian, p.20, 8th April)
- Youth Hostel Association may allow mixed-sex dorms (Guardian, p.17, 12th April)
“Management’s high-handed treatment of student protestors at the University of Sussex has been nothing short of shameful.” Read the original at Varsity blogs.
“Today’s graphic designers are indebted to Bauhaus aesthetics. So why have they eschewed their politics?” Read the original over at Varsity Blogs.
Why I’m fascinated by our Summer Game: Read the original over at Varsity blogs.
Why Brown and Cameron are really dearies, not devils, in disguise: Read the original over at Varsity blogs.
Cambridge’s national voice may be muffled, but disaffiliation from NUS will mute us completely. There was a bit of a blogwar about this one. Have a look here.
Cameron’s elitist new education policies have angered the commentariat. Both sides, however, have missed the point. Read the original over at Varsity blogs.
How walking the Fens helps soothe my academic angst. Read the original over at Varsity blogs.
Why the transition from print to web doesn’t spell the end for the news
Sometimes I get to meet real journalists. “It’s great to talk to you,” I usually tell them, “because I’m actually considering a career in the media myself.” Typically, silence follows. And then, if I’m lucky, a raised eyebrow, or even a strained smile. But most often, it’s a smirk, a patronising laugh, and then that withering aside, “Good luck, because you’ll need it.”
It’s not just me, though. Whether you’ve watched the fifth season of The Wire, or just occasionally peruse the pages of MediaGuardian, it’s clear that print journalism now faces its biggest watershed since Caxton invented type. Every month another newspaper teeters towards doom: if it’s not the Independent, then it’s the Telegraph, the Observer, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer – or even David Simon’s fictionalised Baltimore Sun. Thanks to overambitious mergers, media groups are saddled with debt; thanks to the internet, print runs are down; and thanks to Craigslist, Ebay and the success of major department stores, retail and classified ad revenues have tailed off. And it’s not clear where new money’s going to come from; the web doesn’t yet have any answers, at least in economic terms. Website adverts don’t pay – Guardian Online gets 30million readers a year, but only a pitiful £25million in advertising income. And paywalls – the system where only paying subscribers can access content – reduce readership because of both their subscription cost, and, I’d argue, their complex administration.
And for someone who’s dreamt of working in newspapers since the age of eight, this is all a crushing blow. I love print media. I worked on three or four magazines at school, I edited this very rag, I dream in em-dashes and en-dashes, and the smell of ink fresh off the printing press gives me shivers. But I’m also a realist, and I know that print – as a means of transmitting news – is dead.
Yet I don’t think this transition from print to web quite constitutes journalistic doomsday. Rather, it gives us an opportunity to be more creative about how journalism makes its money. If advertising isn’t going to bankroll web-based news, for example, then revamped paywalls might. At the moment, paywalls prove unpopular with readers because one requires different accounts for different websites. Murdoch’s News International titles (The Times, The Sun etc) are allegedly erecting individual paywalls this Spring, but I’m sceptical about their success: web-readers tend to get their news from lots of different sites, and won’t therefore want to restrict themselves to just one news source. What’s needed, then, is a simpler and more wide-ranging paywall system which allows users easily to access thousands of news sources through just one commercial portal – something a bit like Sky, but for text instead of television. Web users could pay £17-a-month to access not just The Times, but the New York Times, the Economist, the FT, Le Monde, and scores more.
There’s money to be made in diversifying beyond pure journalism, too. Newspapers already earn tidy sums from Fantasy Football schemes, but the concept can be expanded further. The Sunday Times’ ‘Culture+’ has shown the way; rather than articles, the subscription-based club offers, for instance, half-price cultural tickets to its members, and has encouraged a growth in the paper’s sales. Internet dating services, meanwhile, earn the Guardian £2million a year, and I suspect the next big earner will be iPhone applications. Time Out has just released a brilliant free app which works out where you are in London, and then lists every cultural event in your vicinity. If they charged for it, they’d rake in the cash.
We could also do worse than treat newspapers like we do universities: as charitable organisations, rather than for-profit ones. Here in Cambridge, for instance, the University is bankrolled by its endowment. It receives donations, and lives off the interest made from their investment. There’s no reason why, with a little change in perception, newspapers can’t do the same. In the States, in fact, some already do.
In journalistic terms, too, Web 2.0 gives us rookies a much bigger opportunity than print ever did. Our generation can pioneer a form of journalism which incorporates both text and video media, which is edited, updated and accessed in real time, which instantly incorporates readers’ responses, and which is viewed on something as small and transportable as a mobile phone.
It is a confusing time to be entering the industry, then, but it’s also an exciting one. Many budding hacks here in Cambridge are still applying, undaunted, to City, Columbia or a paper-led training scheme. As for me, well, those real journalists I sometimes meet can breathe easy for a bit: I’m hopefully off to teach in a Merseyside comprehensive for a couple of years. Not the most careerist of moves, I know, but it will give me experiences I could never gain on Fleet Street. Besides, in the vacations, I’ll still do what most wannabe hacks do: apply to journalism school, pitch features at unsuspecting editors, write a blog, and watch Citizen Kane over and over again. And then maybe – just maybe – I’ll one day get to be a real journalist, too.
For wiser heads than me, read:
- Jeff Jarvis’s excellent journalism blog: www.BuzzMachine.com
- Clay Shirky’s similarly excellent journalism blog: www.shirky.com
- Michael Massing’s A New Horizon for the News (thanks to @Daniel Cohen for the tip): www.nybooks.com/articles/23050
Read the original over at Varsity blogs.