Being a serious, well established journalist is a dream for many students studying for their NCTJ diploma and MA, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Unfortunately though, not everyone will actually achieve this and that’s ok too because, like myself, there are plenty of students who don’t want to walk that path. There seems to be this incredible stigma attached to anyone who doesn’t want to reach the highest highs of political journalism or become the next Fiona Bruce and this seriously needs to change.
Anyone who thinks that we’re not ‘real journalists’ because we don’t want to claw our way to the top of some prestigious organisation needs to take a step back and ask themselves one question.
What actually makes a real journalist?
If being a real journalist is all of the things I’ve just mentioned, then it’s a very elite social club indeed and there’s nothing good about that.
We’re storytellers, we’re gatekeepers, we can impart wisdom and information but we can also just help people to escape the stress of their daily lives for a moment with an interesting article about cheese.
Everyone is taking the MA/NCTJ diploma for different reasons. I don’t think that it’s right that some of us should be made to feel any less special because we’re not trying to fight some noble cause that might someday change the world. We’re constantly being told that nowadays, almost anyone can be a journalist and that journalism is diverse, but how can this be true when we’re still being shunned for wanting to work for glossy mags or for having the cheek to ‘switch-off’ from the news for five minutes?
If there’s one surefire way to suck the fun and soul out of writing, then it has to be this.
Of course, I want to use journalism to help people but I’m happy to do that in any way I can, whether it’s taking up a cause, writing a piece to make someone smile or telling them 5 cool facts they probably didn’t know about cats.