General Journalism / Inspiration and Editors

“My advice to aspiring journalists… don’t do it!”

First off, that’s not my advice. I’d hope you noticed that by the blatant speech marks.

It’s John Humphrys’ advice. Last year, he was named broadcast journalist of the year at the London Press Club awards. He recently revealed that he advises his children and grandchildren to avoid journalism as a profession.

“As to my advice for aspiring journalists…. that’s easy. Don’t do it! I am deeply pessimistic for the future of serious print journalism and I tell my own children and grandchildren to train for a profession where they’re more likely to get a decent job with some hope of security.”

As Press Gazette reported: ‘Humphrys was the main presenter on the Nine O’Clock News in the 1980s on BBC One. Since 1987 he has been a presenter on Radio 4’s flagship daily current affairs programme Today.’

I don’t agree, and I think successful journalists giving this message to aspiring journalists will create a huge lack of confidence and belief in the industry. We all know print magazines aren’t on the rise, but it’s been years since digital editions, websites and iPads have been released and hey… there are STILL hoards of magazines on the shelves in every shop. It’s been years since that first person said ‘print journalism’ is going to die out but… it’s still here. Our society is the most technically-advanced it has ever been, and yet print publishing is still around.

Why? Because print gives you something that online doesn’t. It’s an experience, a luxury to sit down with a glossy magazine and a cup of tea, or with a newspaper on a Sunday afternoon. People don’t hate doing that, they don’t wish they were at their computer reading the same article. It’s an experience that takes them away from the digitally-fuelled lives we lead. I agree that print journalism isn’t booming, but I don’t agree it will die out. Yes, we hear of magazines that fold, but what about the others that are flourishing?

Aside from the print journalism debate, telling aspiring journalists ‘don’t do it‘ is possibly the most de-motivating thing you could say. Journalists are creative people, they know how competitive the industry is and they probably know the pay isn’t very good either. But if you are passionate about something, why should you be put off? There will always be journalists, writers, researchers and content writers in the world, that’s not something that will die out.

Rather than telling journalists to quit while they’re ahead – why not tell them to work bloody hard? What’s more important? A career that someone is passionate about? Or one they hate but with money and job security? I know full well what I would prefer, because giving a determined person a challenge will only make them work harder, and show how much they truly want it.

Sorry John, I disagree with you.

2 thoughts on ““My advice to aspiring journalists… don’t do it!”

  1. Very well said Amy! I hate when people say that, specially when they’re journalist and should share our passion for the trade! I’d much rather endure all that comes with journalism than settle in a ‘safe’ and ‘prosper’ career. Keep up the awesome work, I love your blog! X

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