Avoiding the Mainstream

Late last year I gave some contemplation to my career as a journalist. Since my mid-career shift from Producer to Journalist I have worked as a freelancer. This has been for many reasons, but mostly because it affords me the luxury of picking and choosing who I work for.

Exploring options I had lunch with a local journalist and discussed working in a newsroom. While it was an invigorating discussion I came away convinced this was not the life for me.

Here are 5 reasons why.

  1. Too much life experience

The pathway to a successful career in mainstream journalism is either a cadetship or spending your early 20s in regional Australia. Newsrooms like it when you’re hungry from a young age, it makes you easier to mold. Chief of Staff’s aren’t huge fans of those entering the field later than 30 years of age. Your life experiences are bound to make you difficult to manipulate, I mean manage.

2.  My life doesn’t depend on it

When I wrote about a family’s invasion of privacy by a local news service a News Limited journalist wrote this on my blog.

One journalist comments on another’s poor judgement.

At the end of the day she may have her principles, but how far would she go to uphold them? Somehow I get the feeling a good homebirth story would not be the deal breaker for her.

3.  Sorry, I don’t do death knocks

I’ve written about this before and seriously death knocks are one of the last bastions of old school journalism. But what really bugs me the most about them is whenever journalists write about the ‘death knock’ they always run this line about how cathartic talking to the media is for families. Well that may be true, but you know what else is true, these people are likely to be in shock and are vulnerable. Journalists who engage in this behavior are taking advantage of that and we have guidelines in place telling you that’s not on.

4.  Too much self respect

Really this Daily Telegraph video sums it up and this article about it paints a picture. What the writer has put journalists through speaks volumes to why we’ve lost public respect.

5.  I’ve always liked the alternative

From music to clothes to movies to politics I have always enjoyed the other side. I find mainstream too popular to be exciting. Online and alternative is the future. Niche journalism is making an impact and as a freelancer it gives me some many prospects to explore. But most of all I am dealing with an editor on a one-to-one basis, no corporate machines, no hierarchy. What you see is what you get.

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