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.
http://www.meetup.com/Future-of-news/ Future of News Meetup Group
http://search.twitter.com/search?q=%23fong Future of News Twitter page
http://apps.facebook.com/meetups/smallbiz/2605/ Future of News Facebook page