Saturday, September 6

Hack: A day in the life


A comment over on Jim's blog annoyed me a bit recently...well lots of comments piss me off but this one warrants a post on my insignificant blog. Yes, I'm fishing there. It was a comment asking if there could ever be a 'bad Glastonbury or bad Electric Picnic' in the review stakes as the journos who go there - often for free - to review it, would never dole out a bad review for fear of exclusion the following year when the coveted press passes are being offered out.

As someone who came late-ish to journalism, I spend my day working in a busy, well-known Dublin paper. As you may or may not know, I also write for a few different publications/e-zines.
The dayjob can be shit and it can be fun - like any job.
And given the unpredictability of recent economic times, it can be depressing.
I have seen people with families and mortgages arrive to work in the morning and have no job by the evening. And I wish I was being dramatic, but I am not.
Things have gotten ugly.
And parallel to this, I have witnessed the clashes that occur between 'advertising' and 'journalism'. Ads make the money for the company and the journalists provide the vehicle for said ads as well as providing the bloody reason one buys the paper in the first place.

In an ideal world, journalism would be the incorruptible warrior of truth, drudging through the facts and figures to grasp the truth firmly by its throat and drag it kicking and screaming to the eyeballs of the lied-to proletariat. This is, of course, bollocks..but hopeful.

This high and mighty ideal is vaguely related to the whole reviewing thing too.
If any of the hacks who went to the Picnic filed a positive review after a crappy weekend, they should be ashamed. But I just don't think it has happened. And I would like to think that those of us who did go to Stradbally and review the event, gave an honest account of their time and didn't pretend they had a blast to try and secure next year's freebie.
Also, from my experience, having to file the negative review can be soooo much more fun than filing the positive one and I believe that if someone had thought the entire weekend was a load of pants then they would gleefully have banged out 2,000 scathing words, emailed it to the relevant editor and sat back to wait for the backlash calling them every name under the sun for having a differing opinion from the media masses.

Mostly, I have found, journos thrive on being told they are wrong/arseholes/ill-informed or whatever. Those reactions are the most fun. The highest paid, and sometimes even the best, writers are the ones that are despised by many of their readers. Basically, despite the fact that we are hated by millions, I enjoy being a journalist and believe I have found a career that suits me, that I have a genuine interest in and that I hope to do for the rest of my life. I did Arts in college, and then an English MA, so for such a directionless oik as myself to be able to say that I now have a direction is something, I can tell you.

Despite all that meandering, what I want to say is: I try to be honest in my writing and I hope others in my profession do too. Maybe I should have just posted that? Typical fucking long-winded, gasbag, egomaniacal hack.

6 comments:

gandalfeeneydawhiterthanwhite said...

HACK :P

adam said...

Still dono't get the 'HACK' thing. Am I missing a film quote here?

Steve said...

My first time coming to your blog (for shame!) but have to totally agree with you. I write for CLUAS, in my own time and at my own cost, and so nothing annoys me more than when people say that journalists (not that I'd even begin to describe myself as one) etc only write positive reviews of events so as to secure next years pass.

It's just not true. I love it when I haven't enjoyed something because I know that there will be (in the case of an event like Oxegen or the Picnic, for example) possibly thousands of people who'll disagree with me. Indeed, it can sometimes be more difficult to write a positive review as you don't want to come across as fawning over artist/promoter! Glad somebody finally agrees with me that writing about music that you've enjoyed isn't as easy as it looks.

adam said...

Nice one Steve. Yeah, there was a kerfuffle on www.drop-d.ie when I reviewed a single by Brian Deady a while back that I didn't like and duly slated.
People get fairly upset when they disagree but it's good to see passionate exchanges when it comes to music.

robertcullen said...

I spent two and a half years writing about property and being relentlessly positive about an area of the economy which was going down the plughole. As a journalist, it is like taking a handful of your hair and pulling it out every time you write a piece of propagandist property nonsense. The pain might fade away, but you soon find yourself metaphorically bald. Thankfully, since mid June I have re-entered the news room as assistant editor and can now experience the hostility, mindless bigotry and superior attitudes of our readers.... and I wouldn't trade it for a house! Well, at least not at today's prices.

adam said...

Ah Rob, a true veteran.
Yeah, advertorials are the worst. Soul destroying stuff.