Stevie G has done so much for music in Cork and Ireland. Genuine trailblazer and lest we forget, did a lot for upcoming generations when usually told to fuck off from loitering outside the local Centra.
Giving teenagers and young people a voice is probably the most satisfactory and fulfilling thing you can do in some ways, and it doesn’t seem long ago when myself and my friends were kids and didn’t have that voice.
At the recent UCC Journalism conference (where RTÉ told us with great pride how they’re gatekeepers and won’t allow us to see silly celeb stories on the news), a student asked for advice on starting out in journalism. This was the advice I gave.
Don’t wait for anything in particular. Just start writing now.
2. Pick something you think the media isn’t covering.
Something the media isn’t covering that you think they should? As per this post, you write it. Media has finite resources and the work journalists are doing is increasing while their pay is not. There are going to be gaps. Fill that gap.
3. Your writing is going to be shit to start with. So what, you’ve started. 10,000 hours is what makes a lot of people go from average to talented. It doesn’t occur naturally for most. Work work and work. Read and write then read and write some more. And stop with the excuses. The worst thing for your writing is to stop writing. Runners don’t wait for the “right” race to train.
All writing is difficult. The most you can hope for is a day when it goes reasonably easily. Plumbers don’t get plumber’s block, and doctors don’t get doctor’s block; why should writers be the only profession that gives a special name to the difficulty of working, and then expects sympathy for it? – Philip Pullman
4. Become obsessed about a topic you have a genuine interest in.
Read everything about it. Oh God, you’re one of those people at a party. Did I know the Ecuadorian yellow parrot has …? Remember bands we idolised and how we knew everything about them? Even the stuff that would never appear in a pub quiz? Become that person for a topic. When you write about the topic your passion and knowledge should stand out because of that obsession. Read every angle about the topic. Pro, con, neutral, rumour. You are now the knowledge base for this topic. You should now be able to create timelines and linkages and more for that topic. Observe from outside, how you write and structure content about the topic. Maybe use this as a model for other topics then? Obsessions teach us a lot about how to research and get a feel for things.
5. Pick a fight.
In terms of getting attention, it works well. But be justified. If someone is misinformed then call them out with proof. Rebuttals, corrections and more can work well. Be level headed the whole time. No personal insults. See the next topic too.
6. Know your defamation laws.
Irish defamation law is a motherfucker. Designed to make rich people keep the masses down while making lawyers nice and rich. Know the limitations the law says your writing has to have. Do remember though that you will get bogus threats too that you should stand up to.
7. Look at available information sources. FOI is great for this. The eTenders website is too. Data journalism is a nice new area of journalism. It’s a new name for what has always been there: Proper research and seeing a story where others don’t. Kildare Street. Even Daft.ie are good places to get information. Learn how to sift through data and tell a story
8. Write for people you know
Write for your mother, father, granparent, friend. Anyone can copy and paste from a press release or rob from the Irish Times and the Indo for their churnalism site. The value is not in who is fastest to repost a press release, it’s in crafting something that has a start, middle and end and that has added value to the life of someone by the time they’ve finished reading your piece. Having someone pictured in your mind as you write focuses you on how to communicate the information to them, how to write it in language they understand.
9. Know how to write killer headlines.
Use Twitter as a platform. Look at stuff in the Irish Times, Independent and give them better, catchier headlines and see what ones you create get the clicks on Twitter and Facebook. This headline guide from Upworthy is great.
10. Pitch and Collaborate
It’s never too early to pitch ideas to features editors. Start with local publications and see will they take your content for free. Again, look at topical issues and look at gaps and pitch for that gap. Yeah you work for free but now you’re published. The more places you are published, the more people will take you seriously.
Done your FOIs? Gotten juicy stuff? Pitch the story to a journalist and see will they write it with you. Get your name in the by-line in a paper then. This actually happens, not a lot but it does.
11. Read stuff on content and how to write
This list from me might also help in terms of new forms of content. Media changes, be there for the changes instead of catching up. Fail fast but fail cheap instead of failing slowly.
Fan generated Star Trek original series episodes. High production values. Above we see the self publishing revolution data, will self produced TV be on the way too and be profitable? Also what’s interesting is pirate websites are giving this content a push. If Netflix can do it…
Dear Fellow Employees of Paypal. Use our app or leave. Why aren’t Paypal staff using the Paypal app is a good question.
We can’t come off looking like we think technology is the answer to every question. Technology is part of the answer but people are obviously part of the answer, as well.
Steve Case (Remember him from AOL) on tech companies and responsibilities. The tech world he alludes to is also the one where people feel good that they teach homeless people to code. And insist if everyone learned to code the world would be so much better. I’m sure some kid in Asia can unstarve themselves by learning python in their slum that doesn’t have electricity. Is there an Uber for getting a clue?
Twinned with the above really. Some handy tips for getting better sleep. With more faces stuck in screens, a much busier work and home life, our sleep is being affected.
This from Google blew me away. The evolution of music over a long long time. Interactive. Pretty. This is how you present data. Paying attention media types?
“As someone that bought books from Malcolm Gladwell before and as someone that binge buys, we know you are going to buy this so we went ahead and shipped it already.” This almost seems like pre-cog or something. Amazon making educated guesses about what and where to ship before people buy.
Facebook is tweaking with your head! More text updates from friends = more of their friends will do updates. So they made that happen and it resulted in 9M more updates a day. Possibly helping the time on site and engagement metrics.
The story of the Cord Taco. Simple idea that came from a request from someone else. From zero to selling in the Apple Store in a year. From the writing though you can tell this guy has his strategy and managed this very well. The product is great, the execution is where the greatness is.
Toast is trendy in San Fran so it will infect all the hipster joints worldwide. I remember the tea and toast crowd at Electric Picnic. As the article says, toast is a form of comfort and gives some the feeling of home. Irish bread brands should hone in on that. However, this article is about how a café is saving a girl’s life. Worth the read.
Realex are doing an event on February 6th. 6pm to 8pm. Free. Covering how to grow your online presence and generate traffic to your site.
The Cool Tools book, based on blog posts was projected to sell an ok amount. Cos you know, why have it in book form when you can get it online? Then it sold out. Then there was another print run. Then…