I ended up becoming a journalist in a rather unusual way. I actually studied economics, and after an internship in a bank during the fourth year of my study, realized that the financial sector might not be something I am cut out for. While hanging around with quite a lot of contemporary authors and poets at the time, I got inspired with writing, and thought of combining my passion for words with the knowledge in economic theory I gained during study. It was only after a few months that I realized that journalism is not so much about creative writing, but more about information sources, working with news-makers, writing simple and logical sentences in a very short time. It’s about time and news pressure. It’s about answering enquiries and comments from your readers and (sometimes) angry reactions from your newsmakers. It’s about making a good story out of something you’ve just found out about.
I guess the main obstacles in my profession at the moment are certainly the growing influence of new media, blogs, social networks, etc. It obviously has many different aspects: from “how do I report on something in a daily print when it has been reported for hundreds of times in blogs/twitter/social networks already?” to “how do I deal with dozens or even hundreds of comments on my pieces?” Yet another important issue in my journalistic career at the moment (and in the last few years) is the choice between freelance and full time. Do I prefer the freedom and ability to bring in more time and quality into research and writing or do I prefer working in a daily news environment, sharing passion for news with fellow colleagues, and having better social security? Still the question is in need of an answer.
As for the news I immediately recall – one of the latest piece I wrote about a month ago for one of the leading Russian dailies, that provoked a huge media scandal (even though I didn’t mean it to) was the story on mistakes discovered in the Russian state exam for school kids. It was one of the first times that I wrote such a general news story, hundreds of times re-printed and re-written over the next few days in various media, blogs and social networks. It was exactly then that I realized how many people actually spend their morning re-writing the articles other newspapers have published, changing something in those articles, adding up their bits and pieces, even their versions of events. As someone who “dug out” the story you hardly have any control over the whole process of “spreading the news”, but you’re still being considered as someone who caused the whole process to start.
Angelina Davydova, Reuters Fellow 2006, Writing Business News London February 2002
Working as a freelance journalist at the moment