Today I feel as if I’m faced with two annoying dilemmas which shouldn’t exist.
To get some recognition in the field I’ve been working hard to build a portfolio and continue to do so. Most of my work has been unpaid, which seems to be a bit too common for a journo. Something which a lot of people are confused with, not understanding the dilemma to get work you need a portfolio, and to have a portfolio, you sometimes have to start off doing some free gigs to get some recognition. If I had been paid for every article in my portfolio I would be a happy camper, but that’s not how reality is, for now.
Also, writing isn’t something you just do when you feel like it. It takes effort to think of the best words, string together a good sentence, craft a good paragraph and mesh together an unique article. The more you do it, the better you become. Writing a 600 word draft might only take you 30 minutes. However, it’s the editing which takes time. The research to check your sources and claims.
Being a writer, a journalist is like most creative professions – you don’t wake up one day as an expert at it, nor do you walk about of school with a job waiting for you. It’s one of those jobs where you have to work hard for a while to hopefully get to where you want. A reality very few understand and even appreciates.
Which brings me to my second dilemma for the day. Gatekeeping and journalism – what newspapers can learn from blogs.
I’m sitting on, what I see, as an interesting story. However, the likelihood of finding a paper letting me write it for them is slim to non. Because the firstly want to use their own people, which I can understand, and then they need to find out if it’s worth publishing.
(Finding a newspaper letting me write the story + researching the story + writing the story) + giving all the information to the paper if they won’t let me write it + archaic newspaper gatekeeping which keeps advertisers in mind = the story will be too old and ends up never being published.
I know, a bit pessimistic, but I’ve been down that road before, and I’m sick of it. Especially when you never receive a reply back when pitching a story.
Depending on when I finish writing it, as I have a few other deadlines, I’ll see if I might pitch it to a few papers, giving them 24h to reply or it goes live where I already have an open door.
Update: Made an adjustment to my not so mathematical equation.