Monday, January 26, 2009


Here's a comment on a few of the responses we gave to questions from some budding journalists.

"You say in response to one question: "Your editor will eventually notice and will eventually pay you top dollar because he'll get the heads up that some smart editor out there is also noticing your brilliant writing. If not, you can always quit and go become a lawyer." Keep in mind that not all lawyers make big money. Those who go into public interest lawyering, for instance, make as much as journalists do -- and sometimes less!

"Also, the question goes to the heart of one of the problems I see affecting local media: the idea that because you can write or like writing you can be a journalist. This is a mistake. Journalists aren't in the main people who like to write; they are people who like to know. Basically, you need to be smart and curious enough to see and explore all the angles to a story and submit to the copy desk a well-reported story. Note, the story does not have to be well-written because the copy desk will re-write submissions to conform to the respective organization's style, iron out any rough edges, correct grammatical errors, etc.

"If someone likes to write and loves to know then journalism is certainly a field I would recommend. But if the desire to know isn't there then he could explore other writing roles: screenwriting, speech writing, creative writing, biography etc.

"My experience in Trinidad is that people tend to be closed-minded about the options available to writers. The options available to writers also tend to be limited. So people good at writing (and some who think they are) see journalism sometimes as the only option available to them other than maybe teaching. A quick scan of the Internet would reveal that this isn't the case and that there are many fulfilling career paths for writers. You would generally have to leave Trinidad to pursue some of these career paths. But if you're serious about realising your potential this shouldn't deter you.

"On the issue of penalizing errant reporters, I agree in part with your answer. However, I also think that the problem is one of a lack of moral authority within the newsroom. There are no standards within the industry, so nobody can discipline anybody."