Farewell the Detective – big city life finds him out

Ned Murray

Whilst reading this blog over the last month and a half it might have come to your attention that I haven’t been active in updating you with my latest experience adjusting to life in London and training as an investigative journalist.

There is one simple answer to this: I no longer live in London, I am not currently training to be an investigative journalist and from this post on I am no longer a Wannabe Hack.


After just a month living in Bethnal Green and at the start of my fourth week of my MA at City University London I made the very difficult decision to defer my place at City. Having spent the past weeks debating my choice I know now that I made the right decision.

Money was starting to become a problem and despite my best efforts to make savings, I knew that by the end of the course in June I would be completely broke having lived in London for a year without an income on top of the debt from my undergraduate degree. I am not for a minute suggesting that I am the only postgrad with money worries, nor am I looking for any sympathy, I am just outlining the factors in my decision.

It also became apparent that not being completely settled outside of doing the MA was hindering my learning.  Now I look back and remember the days being at university all day until the evening and being too exhausted to eat by the time I had cycled the home with a pile of work to do before the morning. Doing sufficient shorthand practice became a particularly difficult task to keep up and it was an activity which I didn’t find stimulating. I recognise how important shorthand can be so I will look to master in my spare time over the next 10 months. My small and overcrowded flat also didn’t help my situation, it exacerbated my exhaustion and hindered my ability to learn.

So was it the wrong move in the first place?

When I was coming to the end of my undergraduate studies at the beginning of this year I worried about ending up at home and losing my independence. However now I am back from a difficult time in London, I have come to view living at home completely differently and am happy there, at least for now.  We all have difficult periods that sour our view of a particular time in our life but I don’t hold that about my time in London, it just wasn’t the right place for me now.


My hobby for the coming months - Cider

It was a result of a rushed decision to plan the next career move after finishing my finals that didn’t work out how I thought it would. My desire to become a journalist remains but now is not the right time to be pursuing that goal in London and it is a career path which I do not want to rush.

So where am I now?

I now have a temporary job in publishing, though this is not a career path I want to pursue. The priority for me, as my course director at City has told me, is to earn as much money as possible before next September rather than to gain valuable industry experience. However, I will endeavour to do both where possible.  Oh yes, and I’ll be making ale and cider from time to time too although, dear reader, please do not associate this hobby with some kind of drinking problem.

And so I bid you farewell as a Wannabe Hack and leave the site in the capable hands of my colleagues. I will be keeping in touch and guest posting from time to time and if anyone has any questions about my course or my decision please email detective@wannabehacks.co.uk.


About The Chancer
Tom is the former news and sport editor of Redbrick and also worked as the sport editor for The National Student. He has done work experience at local papers across the country and is currently studying the Newspaper Journalism MA at City University. He also co-writes the sport blog www.popeandswift.co.uk with The Student.

9 Responses to Farewell the Detective – big city life finds him out

  1. rosieniven says:

    Best of luck with things Detective. I spent a few months living at home coming back from travelling last year. It was an overwhelmingly positive experience – I managed to save some money, further my career prospects and lose more than half a stone in that time. I was actually quite reluctant to leave in the end!

    I don’t know where you are based, but living at home will obviously mean it is much easier to save money. But don’t forget to continue to build contacts during your year out and to develop your portfolio. Get in touch with a local TV or radio station – some struggle to get freelancers with experience of journalism who inevitably focus on London.

    And it might be worth planning regular trips down to London – go to some seminars at City and the Frontline Club and meet with other journalists. Anyway, best of luck and enjoy yourself – the year will fly by!

  2. Good stuff fella, thanks for your other message as well. Jase hasn’t been the same without you!

    “We all have difficult periods that sour our view of a particular time” – great cider pun to go off on.

  3. A temporary job in publishing? GOLD DUST.
    But good luck with your year of earning. That’s what I spent last year doing, and already my plans of financing myself on my savings through to the start of next year are a bit laughable. This move was not something to be taken lightly.

  4. Peter Demain says:

    This article sums up stuff I pondered in 2006 with a place from KCL on offer. Took a day to figure out how much it would cost to live in London. It was partly the fact that BA was going to cost me a great deal even living stringently as hell that I retired to play Elder Scrolls Oblivion for several months and never revised. Not even apathetic lassitude put aside completely that sense of failure underwent later.

    In retrospect it wasn’t the right idea, sort of a false hope that outraged my distaste for formal education. With regards to journalism I maintain it can be self-taught and would sooner spend a few hundred on a cam, a few books plus time to read websites, contact people to learn etc.

    Any paying entity who’d disregard that method for a couple of overpriced, diluted letters after a name that boatloads of others have anyway can stuff that pretentious ethic up their collective colons.

    Pete, editor at Dirty Garnet.

  5. Rosie says:

    Hi Ned
    as you know I completeley understood and supported your decision to defer.
    However, I would like to correct one thing. Whilst I encouraged you to earn as much money as possible in your year out I most definitely would not advise that this should be “rather than gain valuable industry experience”. Ideally you will also gain lots of valuable journalism experience.
    Good luck.
    See you next September

  6. The Detective says:

    Thank you all for your kind and supportive comments.

    Rosie N glad to hear you had such a positive experience while living at home and saving. I have already written to my local newspapers, tv and radio stations asking for work and have already had a few positive responses and I agree with you that it is important to stay involved as much as possible.

    Tom glad to hear Jase is well, good luck with PA week.

    Apologies Rosie W for not making your point clear. Also I’m thrilled to see you’ve taken time to look at this blog!

  7. Lynsey says:

    It can be tough to admit that we’ve made the wrong decisions in life but often it can be the making of people.

    I wouldn’t be in the position I am now pursuing a journalism career if I hadn’t decided to leave uni at the end of my second year. If anything I’m annoyed that I didn’t leave at the end of the first.

    So well done for having the guts to do it.

    It is better to do something with complete commitment and focus than to do something because you feel you ‘have’ to (whether its pressure from others or expectations you have of yourself).

    It can also be a benefit to take a break from the high pressure world of education.

    Gah, anyway, I’m starting to sound a bit preachy, but If you want any advice about taking a tortoise- like approach to careers (rather than the hare), I know a lot about it!

    Good luck- you’ll get a lot more out of the year than just money.

  8. florencedaveyattlee says:

    Good luck Detective and sorry to hear the ghastly teeline has claimed another young journalist! We on the Westminster MA Journalism course are struggling also — you are not alone.

    I have enjoyed reading you and look forward to more in the future.

    Best of luck


  9. Pingback: Wanted: a fifth Wannabe Hack « Wannabe Hacks

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