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FT.com: Lionel Barber on financial journalism and the economic crisis

April 22nd, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Journalism

Financial Times editor Lionel Barber asks whether the media should have foreseen the global financial crisis.

At the beginning, says Barber: “Most reporters working in this so-called ‘shadow banking system’ found it hard to interest their superiors who controlled space and who were more interested in broadcasting the ‘good news’ story of rising property prices and economic growth.”

While journalists were not the only ones to ‘fall down on the job’, there were four key weaknesses in the media’s coverage of the economy in the build-up to the crash (he goes on to outline these).

But, he adds:

“Many of the most important developments of the past decade (…) have largely been unanticipated or failed to attract the attention they deserved. Journalists, in this respect, have a crucial role to play. Flawed they may be, but they still have the capacity to be the canaries in the mine. Long may it be so.”

Full article at this link…

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PBS.org: College newspapers feel impact of economic downturn

January 29th, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Newspapers

MediaShift’s Bryan Murley takes a comprehensive look at the future for college newspapers. Initially it seemed that the student papers might weather the economic storm more easily than publications in the professional industry, but “now the national economy indicates that the future might not be quite so rosy”, Murley writes.

“The widespread economic pains in the media environment are finally hitting college news outlets, and many college newspapers are scrambling to deal with the squeeze.” Full story…

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The New Republic: Why journalists should benefit from Obama’s ‘New Deal’

December 11th, 2008 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Journalism

With suggestions that president-elect Barack Obama is going to resurrect a Roosevelt style New Deal programme, Mark I. Pinsky says writers and journalists should be involved and put to use for public and social works.

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Mad to start freelancing in the recession? Networking, procrastination and press trips

December 10th, 2008 | 5 Comments | Posted by in Freelance, Journalism

Since my last blog I’ve been on a press trip with other freelancers, which is something I’d whole-heartedly recommend. To be in the company of others such as yourself, and share stories about late payments, vague commissions and (grippingly) how to fill out tax returns, is a massive comfort.

Or it is to me anyway, who is finding the isolation one of the hardest things about freelancing. Not having anyone there to look forward to lunch with, or a fellow soul to share tea-rounds with is tough. Not to mention the lack of the sorely missed ‘post-work drink?’ offer or someone else to get excited about a story with.

But it wasn’t just the camaraderie that made the trip worth it – I got some interesting inside info on which editors are taking freelance commissions at the moment, who pays on time and who to avoid.

Something strange seems to keep happening to me in my new guise as a freelance. It’s crippling writer’s block, (though some might call it internet-abetted procrastination) which usually sets in during the last few acceptable working hours of the day.

It’s happened thrice now, me filling my creatively-stumped time with Twitter conversations (does virtual networking count as work?) or chuckling at Charlie Brooker.

Then suddenly, I’ll get a burst of inspired motivation, or a profound idea, just as my housemates burst through the door with that end of the day, ‘so-glad-to-be-home-and-crack-open-the-red’ gusto, flinging open the door to our communal lounge to find me hunched and furrow-browed over my laptop positively scowling at the interruption.

While I’m not drowning in commissions, I’m starting to get somewhere with some magazines, and I’m finding that websites and blogs are open to pitches and more likely to respond (though obviously less lucrative). One thing I’ve discovered, which has been incredibly handy, is going back over old features and finding a new angle and new market for them.

Taking a previous interview or idea, updating it, reworking it (obviously checking you’re not breaching any copyright agreements) and finding a specialist website or blog that is interested has made me a few extra quid here and there. It’s not enough to live off of course, but as it does for those smug, bum-slapping mums in the supermarket ads, when you’re freelancing in a recession, every little helps.

Rosie Birkett is a freelance journalist and sub-editor who specialises in food, hospitality and travel. She can be contacted on rosiebirkett1 at hotmail.com. She also blogs at thelondonword.com and at fiftyfourfoodmiles.wordpress.com. You can follow the series ‘Mad to start freelancing in the recession?’ series here here.

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New blog series: Mad to start freelancing in the recession?

November 28th, 2008 | 3 Comments | Posted by in Freelance, Jobs

Despite all that stuff about English degrees leading to flipping burgers, after leaving university I had the good fortune to run my own magazine with friends while temping at a local TV channel and then to work as deputy editor for a regional magazine. Since graduating, I’ve managed to hold down full-time editorial roles.

Until that is, I moved to London, did a maternity cover stint at my dream magazine – spent five months making contacts, gaining industry leeway and vital experience – only to find there were no permanant jobs going at the end of it.

Luckily for me, my most recent employers have been kind enough to give me shift work (a godsend if you can get it), which has given me the security to make a go of freelancing.

And so, just as the country entered recession and editorial budgets everywhere were cut, I have been thrown into the world of freelance journalism.

Suddenly I went from the safety of the office, its databases, reputation and regular income, to the forlorn makeshift study in the corner of my communal sitting room (because who has room for an office in London?). It was time to abandon Outlook for Twitter and to change from being the one receiving, commissioning and yes, I’ll sheepishly admit, occasionally ignoring freelance pitches, to the one doing the pitching.

In this blog I’ll chart my progress as I endeavour to make a living (albeit a meagre one) off my own back, the freelance way.

It won’t be so much of a ‘how to start out as a freelance’, but more of a collection of stories, anecdotes, and hopefully a forum for people in a similar boat to share ideas, advice and opinion. Welcome to the world of the newbie freelancer.

So as the invites from PRs for lunches turn miraculously into ‘I’ll be at that canapé reception – catch you then’ and the chill-inducing tone of commissioning editors everywhere sings out bluntly ‘never heard of you’ – I’ll be sharing it here, with you, along with (hopefully) the odd triumphant tale of why freelance is the way to go…

Rosie Birkett is a freelance journalist and sub-editor who specialises in food, hospitality and travel. She can be contacted on rosiebirkett1 at hotmail.com. She also blogs at thelondonword.com and at fiftyfourfoodmiles.wordpress.com. You can follow all Rosie’s freelance updates here.

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