Hard News by Russell Brown

Read Post

Hard News: Rough times in the trade

223 Responses

First ←Older Page 1 2 3 4 5 9 Newer→ Last

  • Rich of Observationz,

    I guess there are various "sexy" jobs, like being a journo, or film producer, or model, that people, especially school leavers, are hugely keen to do.

    You can't, I think, take a degree in modelling. But you can study journalism or film studies. I wouldn't want to prevent people taking those classes - even if they never become journalists, any sufficiently rigorous form of learning is useful. But maybe all courses should carry a clear indication of the number of graduates who get jobs in the chosen sector.

    Incidentally, I rue the day that the internet transformed IT from a sad backroom activity into one of those borderline-sexy jobs. As a twenty-something coder In the early 90's, I made two or three times average earnings, flew business class and was furnished with a suitably whizzy company car. I guess I still do ok, but those days are gone, sadly. Too much competition.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Alastair Jamieson,

    Here’s an interesting take that I think is just as relevant to future journalists and other media content producers as it is to photographers:
    The Future Of Photography Is In The Photographer Not The Photograph

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 99 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Alastair Jamieson,

    Here’s an interesting take that I think is just as relevant to future journalists and other media content producers as it is to photographers:
    The Future Of Photography Is In The Photographer Not The Photograph

    Yup, that's damned interesting.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22843 posts Report Reply

  • Mark Stewart,

    I think there are a number of industries where this is a concern. I'm a PhD student, and there seems to be an ongoing discourse about the number of people training as academics versus the number of academic jobs available internationally, especially in the humanities. Is this just a case of there being trends in study/vocational training? Or, as a previous commenter suggested, are some occupations just less "sexy"? My partner is currently trying to hire a senior hair stylist, and is finding there is a ridiculous shortage. I would have thought that might have been one of the more "sexy", or at least glamorous-looking, occupations for a number of school-leavers.

    Auckland • Since Apr 2010 • 3 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    Incidentally, I rue the day that the internet transformed IT from a sad backroom activity into one of those borderline-sexy jobs. As a twenty-something coder In the early 90’s, I made two or three times average earnings, flew business class and was furnished with a suitably whizzy company car. I guess I still do ok, but those days are gone, sadly. Too much competition.

    Ah, yes. There was a good little spin-off for IT journalists at the same time – a salary premium for having enough of a clue to report on a specialist area, those lovely business-class flights to conventions in cool places …

    But no company car, though.

    The other point of interest there is that when relented and took a job with the man, what I brought in was basically informally learned. I feared I’d be totally underdone, but I actually turned out to be the “internet guy”, with a year or two’s head start on most of my colleagues.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22843 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Mark Stewart,

    My partner is currently trying to hire a senior hair stylist, and is finding there is a ridiculous shortage. I would have thought that might have been one of the more "sexy", or at least glamorous-looking, occupations for a number of school-leavers.

    Yes, it's especially noticeable in the enormous prices that tradies can charge - they are all booked out until next year, and yet it's seldom seen as something to encourage your kids into, unless they've shown no academic tendencies. I suspect a very deep snobbery is costing us dearly. We don't need a knowledge economy, we need people with skills that are in short supply, and right now, at the moment, that actually turns out to be people who can fix broken water pipes.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10655 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic,

    Sadly, for every Toby Manhire, there are several Jonathan Marshalls, John Roughans, and Michael Lhawses.

    Citizen journalism could potentially fill the vacuum left by the re-yellowing of the traditional profession, but it lacks pedigree and a guaranteed revenue stream. And the journalistic landscape is littered with the corpses of niche upstarts - Independent Business Weekly, NZ Business Times, that short-lived paper founded by a Wairaparan who tried to compete with the DomPost, you name it.

    What feasibility of a NZ version of Al Gore's CurrenTV, or otherwise a branch of it?

    We don't need a knowledge economy, we need people with skills that are in short supply, and right now, at the moment, that actually turns out to be people who can fix broken water pipes.

    For some years there's been a glut of law and commerce grads to boot. The Clark Govt had plans to cap those areas before it got turfed out, and now Prostetnic Vogon Joyce seems to be taking it a bit too far beyond that scope.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5439 posts Report Reply

  • Andre,

    There are a large number of writers with no journalism training as well. I wrote for my local paper, school magazine etc before scoring a job selling ads for a trade magazine publisher. I never went to journalism school but ended up as an editor of a monthly magazine my own company published (20,000 circulation to businesses). The understanding of the commercial side of the industry is pretty much self-taught from what I've seen. If I'd done media training in 1986 when I left school it would now be very redundant since fax machines didn't even exist then. My brother also worked as a writer/editor for years with no official training - we both just knew instinctively how to write. So the journalists exiting training are just the tip of the iceberg. The graphic design industry is even more over-trained I think.

    New Zealand • Since May 2009 • 368 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Yup, that's damned interesting.

    Authenticity is the new black ;-)

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2935 posts Report Reply

  • Robyn Gallagher,

    Directly related to this very topic is one of the films in this year's NZ Film Festival* - Page One: Inside the New York Times.

    The film-maker has been given access to the NYT's media department, following both an old-school journo (the awesome media columnist David Carr) and a new-school social-media-fuelled reporter (Brian Stelter). Along the way, the paper deals with the Wikileaks saga, and indeed struggles with the question of what their future will be in the constantly changing world of modern media.

    And it will make you think - if this is what the NY Times is dealing with, what's it like for smaller papers?

    * Disclaimer: I'm currently working at the NZFF, which is how I have come to have viewed Page One already. But I bloody love this film and I think y'all will <3 it too.

    Raglan • Since Nov 2006 • 1946 posts Report Reply

  • Alastair Jamieson,

    Yup, that's damned interesting.

    Also, via the same source as that piece (@aphotoeditor), there's this little nugget quoted from the reliably interesting Utne Reader:

    in 1980 there were .45 PR people and .36 journalists per every 100,000 workers. As of 2008, that number had shifted radically. There are now .90 PR people per 100,000 workers and just .25 journalists.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 99 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to Alastair Jamieson,

    Must be for America - on that basis we would have only 18 PR people and 5 journos in the whole country.

    No wonder people have trouble getting jobs..

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Martin Lindberg,

    Story on ArsTechnica on hamsterized journalism.

    Stockholm • Since Jul 2009 • 802 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to Alastair Jamieson,

    Also, via the same source as that piece (@aphotoeditor), there’s this little nugget quoted from the reliably interesting Utne Reader:

    Sounds very much like Minitrue Inc.

    And somehow there's not much coincidence between the rise of the PR industry during that period, and the rise of Big Finance, Big Media, and Big Defence, among other beneficiaries of the Washington Consensus.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5439 posts Report Reply

  • Andy Pickering,

    This was written 11 years ago. But it contains some excellent advice for anyone considering a career in journalism.
    http://www.monbiot.com/2000/06/09/choose-life/

    Auckland • Since Jun 2011 • 4 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Kumara Republic,

    And somehow there’s not much coincidence between the rise of the PR industry during that period, and the rise of Big Finance, Big Media, and Big Defence, among other beneficiaries of the Washington Consensus.

    Meh... while I'll do all the pro forma hissing at the PR industry you like, I find it rather hard to piss on journalists who fail to see the nobility of getting their pay and conditions screwed down, their newsrooms starved of resources and staff and generally being treated like a tiresome impediment to the next round of executive bonuses. If APN and Fairfax don't actually value their talent, it's rich to whinge because others do.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to Alastair Jamieson,

    Here’s an interesting take that I think is just as relevant to future journalists and other media content producers as it is to photographers:
    The Future Of Photography Is In The Photographer Not The Photograph

    I’m really not sure what this article is getting at. They mean the future for photographers is about being a brand? I think perhaps this has always been true for those seeking elite status and fees. But as they give no examples it’s hard to know what they mean.

    And I don’t accept the glib distinction made between film and digital:

    Analog photography is about fixing something and creating an artifact but digital is the opposite of this. The photograph becomes more fluid and online it is never static, there are an infinite amount of changes that can be made to it.

    I’ve worked as a pro photographer with both film and digital and I think the distinction is artificial. A lousy digital image is still lousy after a lot of work, and a good one needs only small tweaks to optimise it. Yes, there are all sorts of manipulations you can do, but what’s the point? We’ve all seen the appalling results of people getting overexcited with the photoshop filters!

    The enormous change I think digital technology is bringing has nothing to do with “fluidity” and everything to do with cost. The inexpensive point-and-shoot digital cameras available in the last few years can produce remarkably good images even for a novice photographer, if they have a reasonable “eye”. The means to take pretty-good photos is cheap and widely available, no longer the preserve of those with training plus lots of expensive gadgets.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3891 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Andy Pickering,

    This was written 11 years ago. But it contains some excellent advice for anyone considering a career in journalism.
    http://www.monbiot.com/2000/06/09/choose-life/

    Wow, that's pretty heavy. How to write off 90% of the workforce as "the living dead". Not without truth, though, I felt like a lowly demon in a lower circle of Hell last time I was deeply ensconced in a large corporation. It's not called the Rat Race for nothing. That said, the work most of my colleagues did did not seem to take a heavy toll, because they never gave it a moment's thought outside of office hours. Also, highly technical work is perhaps not quite so soul destroying when the projects are dictated by a corporate machine, as they would be in a more heart-driven field (like "true" journalism) seems to be. You get to work on big projects, learn various skills, etc...but of course you're forged into a corporate tool pretty quickly. Dissent becomes extremely difficult. I remember that even on the day I left, with a thousand things I wanted to say about how fucked up the management of their IT was, I found I could not say any of it during the formal exit interview, for 2 reasons - I did not want to harm any of the people I'd left behind that I liked, nor did I want to burn any bridges, potentially tossing away the CV references for 4 years of my life.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10655 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to BenWilson,

    Wow, that’s pretty heavy. How to write off 90% of the workforce as “the living dead”.

    Yeah, that’s OTT verging on silly. But the message that it’s good to work on your own thing – having a specialist subject is good – rather than just trudging up the standard workplace path is a sound one.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22843 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to BenWilson,

    highly technical work is perhaps not quite so soul destroying when the projects are dictated by a corporate machine, as they would be in a more heart-driven field

    Amen

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19735 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Russell Brown,

    But the message that it's good to work on your own thing -- having a specialist subject is good -- rather than just trudging up the standard workplace path is a good one.

    I'd agree, caveated with "for some people", and also "at certain times of life". Living on $5,000 pounds per year might seem admirable to him, but if you're putting your family through that, it's a whole lot less noble. Security is sought by people for a reason, because it's not the feeling of insecurity they're worried about (although that can be unpleasant), it's the actual disasters that a total lack of finances can make 100 times worse. He's very quick to write off the actual pleasures that go with secure well paid remuneration, which are obviously substantial.

    But for young people that have an ambition of the heart, it's good advice. In fact, any advice telling people to educate themselves about exactly it is they want to do, to seek contact and inspiration directly from people doing just that, and to do a lot of self-analysis about whether the path fits, is sound. It's the basic premise of "What color is your parachute?", the famously successful job-hunting bible. It's considerably harder than letting someone else make the decisions, but it will find you want you want a lot faster. If you don't do it, you're not really even looking for what you want, you're waiting for it to fall in your lap.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10655 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    Must be for America - on that basis we would have only 18 PR people and 5 journos in the whole country.

    You're right, I'm sure we have more than 18 PR people.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Lilith __,

    There is a large amount of philosophical bullshit in the article, and even more in the event it's reporting on. My read is that Steven Mayes has realised that the money is no longer in selling reprints and licensing images (dare I say, "the copyright culture") but in partnerships and reputation, but he's marketing it as "integrity" so it sounds better.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2935 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to nzlemming,

    My read is that Steven Mayes has realised that the money is no longer in selling reprints and licensing images (dare I say, “the copyright culture”) but in partnerships and reputation, but he’s marketing it as “integrity” so it sounds better.

    So they're talking about working to commission rather than licensing stock images? Or something else?

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3891 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to BenWilson,

    I’d agree, caveated with “for some people”, and also “at certain times of life”. Living on $5,000 pounds per year might seem admirable to him, but if you’re putting your family through that, it’s a whole lot less noble.

    For sure. When you're supporting a family, things change. But I've always been glad I had experiences outside journalism, and outside straight jobs. Editing Planet for Taskforce Green wages (and we actually had Baby No 1 at that point) definitely set me up to earn more money later on in life, when I needed it. I've often advised young journalists to spend some time with an independent publication. But yeah, not everyone wants to do things that way.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22843 posts Report Reply

First ←Older Page 1 2 3 4 5 9 Newer→ Last

Post your response…

Please sign in using your Public Address credentials…

Login

You may also create an account or retrieve your password.