Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Caesar sparks war of words

A WAR of words has broken out in the blogosphere over an article in The Sunday Times magazine over why tens of thousands of journalism hopefuls graduate every year and then find themselves clamouring for increasingly rare jobs.
The article http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/education/article7119993.ece was by Ed Caesar, a feature writer and reviewer for the Sunday Times. He is 30, was educated at Wellington College, Edinburgh University and The Independent newspaper. In 2007, he won the Press Gazette British Young Journalist of the Year award.
His point was well argued if a little contradictory, in that he was obviously happy with his own career, yet worried that the decline in the printed media means that unpaid posts as work experience could lead to lowly paid staff positions. How he started in fact.
Adam Tinworth on his blog http://www.onemanandhisblog.com/ has a go for Caesar’s article being totally London-centric and focussing on the national media, while there are far more journalists employed by the regional press.
Roy Gleenslade sprang to Caesar’s defence (see http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/greenslade) by pointing out that journalism students he met were only interested in the nationals.
Well they would say that to Greenslade as he is in the same London goldfish world as Caesar.
Adam Westbrook had a far better point. See http://adamwestbrook.wordpress.com/ He is a distinguished advocate of what he calls New Age Journalism.
He objected that Caesar had totally ignored the opportunities of the new technologies, arguing that it was better to work for yourself than one of the old dinosaur media corporations.
There are opportunities for entrepreneurs to create their own niche markets, invent applications on their chosen subjects for mobile phones and then make money directly.
Well, up to a point. First that ignores the fact that the attraction for many journalism students is working for printed products, whether local or national.
Furthermore, if 30,000 journalism students a year set up their own businesses, the market may become saturated rather quickly.
My beef with the article was its incestuous nature: London-centric, yes; national media obsessed, undoubtedly; old media thinking, absolutely.
Would the Sunday Times use its precious space publishing a similar analysis on apprenticeships in the building trades or even the pressures of trying to start a career in accounting, banking, teaching, nursing or any other trade or profession?
The national press is getting further away from its markets, partly because of its obsessive London bias. Just because a few Hampstead media folk have to subsidise their over-educated offspring during their work experience in the media, is this really worth four pages in a Sunday magazine? I don’t think so.

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