Tag Archives: journalists’ private lives

Hey world, why all the tradge?

“Adele wrote 21 when she was in the depths of break-up despair and a little bit fat. She’s now happy, in love and getting fit… Her next album won’t be half as good.”

If I’ve overheard it once, I’ve overheard it a million times. And not just about Adele and the beautifully melancholic whine-fest which I can only listen to if I reeeeeeeeally want to that is 21. I don’t remember a time I didn’t know because it was constantly drummed into me that tragedy is easier to write than comedy. Is it because the world is sick with cynicism? I learned at the age of 15 in a very poorly-executed GCSE Speaking and Listening presentation that you can’t, for love, money, or the desperate pitch of an eraser at an over-achiever’s head, MAKE an audience laugh. So why is it so easy to make them cry? Or, should I be asking, why is it so easy to make them want to cry?

As a journalist I have always found the most popular stories – whether that’s measured by website hits, comment, or even ye olde letters to the editor – are negative. Always. And I don’t have to link to a pyscho-babble article in the Guardian to say why: People love tragedy because it makes them feel better about their own lives. It’s why EastEnders is still going after nearly 30 years, it’s why the glossies and the red tops are always searching for that one in 10 billion shot which’ll make Cheryl Cole look fat and why that story probably got more hits than any government budget updates over the past 5 years combined. And it’s probably the reason why Someone Like You, in all its wailing glory, was the best-selling UK single of 2011.

Today I found out that my last post, that heartfelt, yowling whine from one of the most teeth-pullingly frustrating times of my life was one of the deciding factors in my current employers offering me a job. A job which I love and which has given me everything I so wanted for so long. There’s a lot to be said for tragedy.

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Blogging On the Beat

Adam Tinworth brought the I back into journalistic blogging at CJS this week. 

He told us that publishing online does make money, that the market is all about the niche and that old school beat journalism is making a comeback.  In short, blogging has facilitated the return of definining journalists by what they report on. 

Using the example of Jon Ostrower, Adam explained how journalists can make their name by reporting on something that they find absolutely fascinating.  The downside is, so can everybody else.  So how do you define yourself in a world where your interest in a particular subject is twn million a penny?  Enthusiasm, honesty, communication, information… they’re all the building blocks Adam gave us, but what I found the most interesting was the emphasis he put on being social.  If you interact with your readers, your public, they will trust you more, more will follow you and you’ll being to carve your little intials on the great big world of your niche.

But what about the journalist who retreats from the face of what they report on?  Who keeps themselves separate from their subject and goes home at the end of the day someone completely different?  Why shouldn’t the journalist be entitled to their own private life? 

To answer this I want to look back at the words of another guest lecturer at CJS, Charles Reiss, former political editor of The Evening Standard who spoke to us in our Reporters and Reported module.  He stressed, among other things, that the root of people’s trust in journalists lay in their determination to ‘tell the complex truth.’  He also revealed some rather damning statistics on the current state of said trust… But even worse off than journalists are politicians – because, among other things, politicians spin.  People feel they only get the slippery surface of a politician when they hear them speak.  And this is why journalists need to be open, this is why journalists should put their all into their beat blogging if they are to have any chance of competing with people who blog on their own steam.  Because if you show that you care about something more than you care about your own self-promotion people will trust you more and you will get a step closer to expanding those inconsequential little initials to a full-flowing signature.


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