Too proud to write for “The Daily Fail”?

When you’re looking for something, you’d be amazed how quickly your standards lower. We’re talking about jobs here as opposed to that desperate 4am scanning of the dance floor…

On Sunday Giles Coren wrote a column much like those he publishes in varying parts of The Times of a weekend: witty, touching, cleverly structured and a delight to read. Except it appeared in Femail: The Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday’s girl-friendly colour supplement. The flocks of @gilescoren fans (myself included) sycophantically tweeted their appreciation hours after ‘Oh my God, I’m turning into my father’ appeared on Mail Online.

Daily Mail

A 'typical' Daily Mail front page

However, it was clear that many of these compliments were more than a little backwards. @henweb tweeted: “Nice. @GilesCoren’s article in the Daily #FAIL is literally the first good article I’ve read in the DM for… well, ever!”. I was alerted to the piece by @samparkercouk, advising that “If you only ever visit the Daily Hate once in your life, make it for this article by @gilescoren.” Even if he wasn’t such a candid tweeter, it’s obvious why Coren took the controversial commission: it’s his job.

Daft as it sounds, it’s all too easy as a young and/or wannabe hack to imagine ourselves taking the Guardian offices by storm, rather than realising that writing for a living is as much about paying rent as it is ‘changing the world’. When I was job-hunting a fellow intern scoffed, “Gas and Power Magazine? Seriously?” It’s easily done, until you see what journo job listing sites really look like and your specifications broaden considerably.

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The Daily and some fancy apps aren’t going to save journalism

In the last few days we have seen the announcement of some sort of new Murdoch iPad/tablet-only paper ‘The Daily’ and Richard Branson has also thrown his hat into the arena with his announcement.

The Daily

The App icon for the new newspaper

It is good that people are experimenting – I don’t believe in Murdoch’s approach or philosophy towards content and the Internet – but people do have to try things out – news and journalism needs a new business model.

Yet apps, programmes and software are not the answer to the problems that journalism faces, they will not encourage people to pay for a low quality product just because they are on a touch screen. Especially not when we have to suffer the kind of inaccurate and agenda driven journalism that we have seen regarding the student protests of the last two weeks.

What has happened with reporting in the last few weeks, months and years has highlighted the problems that journalism currently faces. Our news is less accurate, rushed and lazy – if the Guardian had not pursued the Ian Tomlison case, would anyone have been held to account? If the New York Times had not pushed the phone hacking story (Wall Street Journal motivations aside) would the police be investigating again?

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Journalists should get snap happy – and here’s an incentive

A picture is worth a thousand words…

Don’t worry; we at Hacks haven’t resorted to just spouting clichés and quotes at you we have a point to make and that point is all about the value of the photograph.

Photography is a subject we have neglected on Hacks and this is something we are rather embarrassed about. Having all been section editors or editor-in-chief of our student newspaper we know from first hand experience how important a photo is to a piece of journalism and to a newspaper or magazine in general.

In fact, issues with photos even prompted both myself and The Student to become ‘photographers’ for the paper, covering sport fixtures and providing images for news stories. Are either of us experts? No. Are we going to be pros in the future? No. All we had were cameras, of varying quality, and a recognition of the importance of a photograph.

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Guest Post – Sarah Moore: TV journalism

This week – in a Hacks special – we look at a Wanna-‘be’ and a Wanna-‘been’ in the TV journalism industry. Our Wanna-‘been’ is the award-winning TV journalist Sarah Moore who has worked with ITN, ITV, GMTV and now lectures in broadcast journalism at Salford University.

Sarah is a journalist that has traveled and reported all over the world. Basically, she has bags of experience and that means there’s lots of advice… Here it is.

Lesson number 1: you do not break into television expecting it to be glamorous!
Sarah Moore #4

Of course elements of the job can be. It’s pretty glamorous being sent to Paris Fashion Week. It’s not however glamorous when you’ve been given just a few hours to get there and you’re not exactly dressed for the occasion or able to speak the same language as your crew.

I’ve spent the past ten years working in television news. I was very fortunate to get my first job at ITV Central in Birmingham, one of the best regional news stations. It was a big step for someone straight out of a post-grad course in Broadcast Journalism at the Cardiff Journalism School.

So how did I break into the industry known to be one of the most cut-throat and competitive of them all?

Lesson number 2: sleep is for wimps; a life is something you can have another time.

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Podcast #3: student protests – demo debate

It’s the Wannabe Hacks podcast pounding your ears once again!

This week The Chancer and The Intern get a little heated over the coverage of the Student Demo 2010…

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Debate: were the BBC justified in striking over pensions?

Now that all the furore has died down, The Student and The Chancer assess whether the BBC were right to strike over cuts to their pension.


FOR: The Chancer

A lot of the public attention from these strikes centred around the big names who didn’t cross the picket line and the fact that we were left with some nobody from Hampshire on breakfast and a second string XI to run the other shows. Once the big names started staying at home it was no longer about the action, or it’s cause; it’s the actors in the piece who matter.

And that is one of the problems here. Because now when we hear about BBC staff striking we think of Huw Edwards, Sophie Raworth and George Alagiah and grumble at these well-paid presenters who have temerity to demand more money. But it isn’t just about them. It is about everyone else at the Beeb who feels they are getting a raw deal.

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So you want to be a journalist? In response to Martin King

This isn’t intended as a direct response to Martin’s article in the Independent’s blog section

… but I am using it as a jumping off point.

Photo courtesy of greeblie

Martin’s article ‘So you want to be a journalist?‘ provides pointers on some of the key skills ‘wannabe’ journalists will need to be in a position to get themselves a job. What struck me about his approach was the way he divided up the skills. ‘Writing has got two subsections: ‘Spelling and Grammar’ and ‘Shorthand and Touch Typing’, yet, what Martin referred to as ‘Technical‘ was just one broad paragraph on such a wide range of skills I wonder if people have a true appreciation of what is involved.

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One small step for Hacks…

The Guardian offices Kings Place

The Guardian offices Kings Place

This blog about our journeys into journalism wouldn’t be much use if it didn’t update you about our real life adventures. You have had some patch experiences from the Chancer and some pitching and application insights from the Freelancer…

Now it is time for some news from me, the Intern.

On Monday morning I start a brand new job at the Guardian. I can’t really talk about what I will be doing yet as some of it isn’t ready for the outside world to know – however I will do my best to keep you updated as and when it is appropriate.

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Five ways to improve i, The Independent’s 20p newspaper

i Logo

This week has seen the launch of the first printed newspaper for almost 25 years, the i. Unveiled on Tuesday by The Independent, the Monday-to-Friday paper has received mixed reviews (notably on Twitter) but circulation figures have reportedly ‘surpassed our most bullish expectations’ according to Simon Kelner.

We’ve been relatively impressed by the 56-page tabloid, which markets itself as ‘The paper for today’. We also have a lot of time for Kelner and Independent Print Limited owner Alexander Lebedev for thinking outside the box.

However, it’s by no means flawless and, with that in mind, we suggest five ways the i could be improved.

1. Use less NIBs (news in briefs)

We know i is supposed to be an ‘essential daily briefing’  which ‘combines intelligence with brevity and depth with speed of reading’ (so says the extensive i eight-page pull-out advertisement in the Evening Standard on Monday) but that doesn’t mean a large percentage of articles have to be under 40 words.

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Wayne Rooney holiday. Cheryl Cole tights.

This blog will get you a job in journalism. I am so sorry, that was a lie, but I hope that the opening line at least made you read as far as this sentence and therefore allows me to introduce my latest hack topic – being able to write a good introduction.

In learning how to become 21st century journalists we are being taught all the latest tricks of the trade, about social media, blogging blah, blah, blah. Despite all that new fangled crazy stuff some things never change and one of those things is the need for a good introduction. Capture the reader’s attention, get them interested in the first five words, write it as you would tell someone in the street, these are the kind of hints and tips which we young journo whipper snappers must remember everyday. But it isn’t really as simple as that is it?

How the hell do I make that sound worth a read?

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