At the end of the academic year John Mair, senior lecturer in broadcasting at Coventry University, asked just what would happen to his undergraduate journalism class of 2009. In the face of the biggest media recession for many a generation where do they go? Is there life after a journalism course? A few months on, we are re-visiting the students.
Jason Craig graduated with a first class honours in journalism and media from Coventry University last June. He now works as a writer on the Belfast based Pacenotes – a magazine for the many thousands of rally enthusiasts in Ireland.
As I write this, 10,000 copies of the September issue of Pacenotes Rally Magazine will be returning from the printers in Antrim and winging their way to newsagents, subscribers and leading rally figures across the UK and Ireland.
The days leading up to print deadline, leaving the office just before midnight and rising the following morning at 6am was not uncommon, and after a while you become oblivious to the man-hours needed to compile a 72-page monthly read.
When you are passionate about a subject and you are getting paid to write about it, time really doesn’t become an issue – at least for me, anyway. My last report covered the Ulster International Rally, a mammoth two day operation that required the compiling of driver quotes and pictures on stage and in and around service.
I give up evenings and weekends to be involved in a sport I have followed and admired for so long. To have access to teams and drivers is a privilege, so it is my job to relay this ‘inside information’ to the reader as best possible.
For the same issue, with the help of Phil James (www.pro-rally.co.uk), I have just compiled a one-off, 11 page commemorative feature on the Mini as this year marks its 50th anniversary.
I’ve spoken to many people about this giant-killing rally machine, but none more eloquent than the 1964 Monte Carlo Rally winner, Paddy Hopkirk. This is what makes my new job so varied and exciting.
Recently, in the space of a week, I have been to Dublin to research a feature on Couture Auto Ltd before jetting over to England the following day to pay the motorsport engine builder, Mountune a visit.
This visit to the Essex based company had added meaning as anyone who knows me will be wholly aware of my admiration for the Blue Oval and rallying in general. As a matter of fact, I’ve never seen so many Ford GT supercars in the same place at the same time, including one worth a cool £1 million!
In October I travel to Cork to cover the final round of the TROA Irish Tarmac Championship where this year’s winner will be crowned, and in November – the weekend before my graduation ceremony, in fact – I travel to the final round of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge in the hope that Ulsterman, Kris Meeke will prevail as the champion.
I’ve been fortunate enough to have had strong leadership and continued support from my lecturers during my final few days at Coventry University: automotive hack Andrew Noakes and media guru John Mair were of particular help. They deserve a special mention for reasons known only to them, with two copies of the current issue soon to land on their respective desks.