Guest Post – Peter Demain: a belated start to journalism


In a tale of inspiration, Peter Demain – Editor of Dirty Garnet – tells us how you can achieve journalistic success regardless of the challenges life has thrown at you.

Remember, it is not necessarily too late to start your career in journalism!

Despite the pompous connotations long-attached to the word ‘Satirist’ it’s true that a distinct minority of trade journalists are partial to producing the content.

Peter Demain

My commencing this and journalism was a consequence of some stark events:

In 2008 I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder (manic depression).

I’d watched Stephen Fry’s 2006 documentary on manic depression and read a bit of psychology stuff as a teenager. Nothing – however – prepared for the bizarre altered state of consciousness that is mania. A combination of over-work, irregular sleep patterns, alcohol and cannabis abuse (among other follies) set the stage for my collapse.

By September 2008 I had a new flat and had acted in a well-received community production of Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion. Weekly visits from NHS staff occurred – informal conversations ascertaining how I was.

However, I concealed depression and one particular night of drinking had resulted in a suicidal ideation that culminated in me throwing myself under a train.

Surviving was sheer fortune.

The image of the locomotive speeding towards me seconds after I leapt onto the track is something that will never leave me. Weeks of morphine-induced hallucinatory delirium and terror resulted in me valuing life.

After recovering I contemplated what my A-Level politics teacher thought was my best bet for a career: journalism.

The whole adverse going through it made me consider satire; I got to care more about bringing wrongdoers to bear given my experiences: greed, vice, deceit and humbug seemed very worthy to combat.

My first article was written for the NHS under my birth name. The topic was along the lines of media stigma in mental health reportage.

I began my satirical website Dirty Garnet in July 2010. Praise was encouraging but I became wary of ending up a one-trick pony, hence a photo-essay for Blog Preston with more journalistic work lined up.

It’s rewarding, enjoyable and – despite my education being only reading and scant experience – journalism may yet become my career, albeit belatedly.

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About Matthew Caines
Community & content for the Guardian Culture & Media professional networks | founder of @wannabehacks @withinreachmag | find him on Twitter @mattcaines

2 Responses to Guest Post – Peter Demain: a belated start to journalism

  1. Pingback: » ‘Old Media’ Isn’t Trendy Dirty Garnet: Dug up, uncut news inlaid by unbribed freelancers

  2. Gerry says:

    What an amazing journey you have been on Peter. We are blessed to have you here today. Have read some of your entries on Dirty Garnet. Truly, you are gifted with the talent of the pen. There’s no doubt in my mind that you will have that wonderful career in journalism that you working so hard towards. You’re already well on your way!

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