Monday, 1 March 2010

Food for journalistic thought

Last Thursday I blustered my way from my warm and cosy room in Brighton to the windy, rainy streets of London for the Future of News Meetup Group which my dad was very amused to hear took place in a pub in New Oxford Street.

Not knowing exactly what to expect but hoping for at the very least some intelligent conversation I was pleasantly surprised. The strange mishmash of people – from students to lecturers and retired columnists – made for a refreshing feeling of acceptance that took a while for me to pinpoint. There is something extremely rewarding about finding a large group of people with ideas and opinions on the subjects that you practically live and breathe.

Bizarre characters were what I was hoping for and I was not disappointed. There was a beer-enthusiast and radio journalist who told us about his trip around the world, an audio-tech guy in jeans and a T-shirt who runs the most successful forum in his field, a Canadian girl with a surprising interest in Starbucks and myself, among others.

The meeting – or perhaps the wine – also had the pleasant side-effect of causing me to spend the whole train journey home talking about the evolution of news and the possibilities for print journalists in the current situation. Needless to say I didn’t see the light and answer all the industry’s questions but I was extremely satisfied and probably smiling like a lunatic when I got home that night.

I recently read a book called One Day by David Nichols (£2.99 with the Times one Wednesday – some good cross-promotion going on there, but I’ll leave that subject for another day), in which one of the main characters expresses his disgust at the late-80s student culture of sympathising with every cause, having an opinion on every issue, needing to change the world, to be an activist, to fight for what you believe... Somewhere along the line the Dexter Mayhews of the real – as opposed to fictional – world found perfection in the form of a generation in which no one cares about anything much more than what they are having for breakfast tomorrow.

I don’t expect Che Guevara T-shirts or campus marches against every war, but some sort of passion for what we are studying should be an underlying common ground, shouldn’t it? It is quite sad that in order to feel like I can comfortably talk about journalism without being considered pompous or precocious I have to go to a meeting full of middle-aged men.

Moving on from my digression into bitter student mode, I have to applaud the event as a relaxed, interesting and free platform for anyone interested in journalism and news. Bring your opinions, your enthusiasm and your knowledge and I can assure you, it will not disappoint. Future of News Meetup Group Future of News Twitter page Future of News Facebook page


  1. It is sad. Maybe some students don't know why they chose journalism or just went into it for different reasons.

  2. I think your view on journalism just differs from a lot of ours, you seem to regard tabloid and celebrity as if it is the plague. Whereas others, such as myself, see it as a more vivacious and exciting genre of journalism.

    p.s. the reason you come across as pompous and precocious is because you write blog posts that slate the rest of us, knowing that we'll read them.

  3. "Anonymous" you say "differs a lot from ours" and "slate the rest of us" but to what victimised journalistic body do you belong? From your comments I'll assume you've been distressed by some of Bergman's words, and I'll hazard a guess that you're also a student.

    My experience of students in recent years(I'm no longer one myself) supports these views for the most part, as most that I've dealt with have appeared to be nonchelant about their own subject of study. This is probably as a result of the record number of university places and ever lowering admission standards.

    Those who do go on to find themselves decent employment (including those graduates to whom I've given employment) are those who seek out real experience and knowledge in their given field. Those who see further education as popularity contest, chance to party or free time to read Look magazine will find these "skills" less useful on a CV than evidence of attending a discussion group frequented by professional journalists.

    But then what do I know, I only do it for a living. The group is excellent, and positivity and enthusiasm are certainly rewarded!

  4. I never slated the group, i agree it sounds really interesting and passionate. However, i do not agree with the closed mindedness that you appear to have against all other genre's of Journalism. Just because I do not have the same aspirations to work in broadsheet journalism, or whatever it is you guys pride yourselves on, doesn't make me less intelligent than you, it just makes me different.

    So please don't insinuate I shouldn't be at university, obviously we have our seperate opinions and that's fine. But don't try and act like you're any better than me, or any of the other people on my course that have ambitions that differ from yours and you therefore don't approve of.

  5. I'm not "Anonymous" but a damn well agree with him/her. I'm Ben Skiipper by the way, hello!

  6. Madre mia Sirena!!! La gente es un poco rehacia a lo que dices, aunk en el fondo, saben que es totalmente verdad. Pero ya se sabe como se suele decir,que las verdades duelen y eso es lo k les pasa. Estan tomandose tus palabras como ellos quieren , añadiendo cosas que no has dixo en ningún momento.
    Con los estudientes a mi me pasa lo mismo en mi universidad y creo k pasa en todos lados. Proviniendo de gente que hace una carrera pero que no se la toma enserio es muy corriente, aunk luego kieran hacer ver k estan muy interesados cuando lo unico k buscan es sacar dinero y no interesarse realmente por si estan haciendo su trabajo bien.
    Bueno, supongo k ya estas acostumbrada a estas reacciones, tus ideas siempre han causado todo tipo de estragos y reacciones, jajaj. Por eso eres tu.

    P.D: me encanta tu blog!!

  7. Dear Anonymous, (shame, isn`t it when we can't own up to our opinions - however lacking in logic/evidence they may be.)

    I would like to raise two issues. Firstly,of course you are entitled to your opinion that tabloid journalism possesses some "qualities" not shared by the broadsheet sector (and what a relief that is). I do not think you would deny, however, that the tabloids lack certain other qualities such as intellectual argument, in-depth investigation, analysis, not to mention at least a superficial foreign news overview (much too superficial in my view, actually. If you're a curious journalism you might try comparing foreign coverage in El País with any GB broadsheet,) to name but a few. I think the Sun is deemed to have a reading age of 7.

    To think that a student might embark on a degree course in Journalism with the ambition of finding a job at a tabloid is worrying from where I stand.

    Secondly, Sirena´s attitude re writing these comments on her blog strikes me as anything but pompous or precocious. Adjectives such as honest, daring or even masochistic come to mind. I also suspect Sirena has a penchant for playing Devil's Advocate - anything to get the debate going.

  8. Your article for The Guardian was ridiculous. Your post is really insulting to your fellow students, of course they aren't going to respond in a positive way. To suggest that you are a victim of cyberbullying is ludicrous.

  9. Having finally got round to reading this, I can say I agree 100%.

    Obviously, we're all different, some people need to be encouraged, dragged kicking and screaming in order to really engage with journalism course content.

    That said, the very essence of a journalist is that of a self-starter. Even under the old media system, you still had to be headstrong and full of initiative to succeed. I too find it crushingly depressing that there's only a handful of people at my university who are truly passionate about journalism. The rest simply see it as an excuse to go to awful clubnights and humiliate themselves the next day on facebook. Somehow I've just finished my first year with good marks, a host of extra-curricular activities and (shock horror) a social life.

    Lest people forget that you should go to university to study, not just piss tuition fees up the wall. After all, if you graduate with £20k worth of debt and no skills learnt, then more fool you.

    *Self promotion alert*
    I wrote a few posts about student journalism on my blog: and

    Be interested in any comments you had on them!