I know this question has already been asked thousands of times, but since going up there, it’s really made me think. Yes, I understand some national magazines and newspapers should be based there, but it seems any new media publication feels that they’ll only be successful if they base themselves in the capital. Why?
I always grew up thinking I would work in London, not because I was desperate too, but because that’s where all the jobs were. I was lucky in a sense that my first job was in Sussex, meaning I had a 25 minute drive there down country roads, and avoided the expensive commuting costs for a year. Now, my 25-minute drive has turned into a cycle down the station, over an hour train to St Pancras International, a tube to Camden, and a short walk to the office. Granted, I don’t actually find the length of it that bad, and I keep myself occupied pretty well by getting extra work I have to do, done. And blogging. I’m actually sat on a quiet train now and everyone is looking over at me at how fast I’m typing, and probably annoying their quiet morning read, whoops.
Anyway, the fact is – I commute to London because I feel like I’m expected to in this industry, it’s not really a choice. If you want to succeed in journalism and challenge yourself by working on a national publication, then there’s no doubt about it that you’re expected to be in London. Because that’s where all the opportunities and jobs are. I’m lucky I live somewhere where it’s actually do-able to commute for the time being, while I can eventually move out again and find a place to live up there in my own time, rather than picking a place to live just because I need to move there asap. Not that the season ticket costs are anything to feel lucky about.
But what about those journalists who live in the north, or in Bristol, or in Cornwall? It’s a hidden rule that they have to move to London if they want to be on one of those recognised publications. Why can’t they be based all over the country? Why are we making London so much more intense and busy than it already is?
I’m always surprised when a publication or website I know well is based in a different part of the country. Like journalism.co.uk for example, a huge website for journalists, is based in Brighton (the beloved), and so is The Student Room, which I’m sure all students have turned to at some point – that’s based in Brighton, too. And good for them, because there’s definitely enough students around Sussex studying journalism, the media or English to be in great positions to work at these websites.
In Bauer Media where I work, a few publications are now based in Peterborough which is much more accessible than people who live in the north, meaning they might not have to completely relocate and be miles away from friends and family just to get a job they want. I mean, sometimes they might want to do that, but they’re not really given the option.
I sound like a bitter young journalist who hates London – I actually enjoy working there and hope to move there soon. I work in Camden, my journey to work is uncomplicated and quite pain-free (aside from inevitable delays) but I haven’t had to pack up and completely leave all friends and family to be able to work there. Which can’t be said for everyone else who are starting out their careers in London.
All cities should embrace these national publications, rather than throwing all the eggs in one basket – that basket being London.