I enjoy writing.
It gives me a mental break from my regular day job and allows my otherwise unutilised creativity and sense of humour to escape and run rampant across the page and web-sphere.
“Have you ever thought of becoming a reporter / journalist” is probably one of the most common questions I am asked along with “have you ever thought of running for council?” and “How tall are you?” / “what’s the weather like up there?”
The answers to those questions are: “Yes”, “Yes” and “six feet, eight inches” / “(spitting sound) It’s raining!”
To be more specific, I am usually asked if I have considered STUDYING to become a journalist. The answer to that is “No”.
As I’ve said before I’m not going to spend $30,000+ and three years of my life studying for something that:
A/ Won’t guarantee a job at the end of it
B/ Is something I already do very well, some would say even better than the “qualified” journalists.
Here-in lays the problem. Those who have studied for and gained official qualifications get the type of job that I, as a naturally talented, but “unqualified” writer can only seem to aspire to.
Conversely, there things that I can write about and opinions I can promote that professional reporters are not allowed to. No-one is telling me what I can and cannot write.
So I propose a test – a bit of a Pro-Am. Who do you think is the better writer – me, the amateur, or the professionals?
Let’s use this sample as a case study:
Last month I wrote of Antonio’s Pizza and Pasta closing after 35 years. While we were there getting our last pizza from Anthony, a friend of mine who is a photographer for the Hawke’s Bay Today came in to take photos of Anthony for an article that appeared in the paper the next day.
As I was there first and planned to blog about it when I got home, I joked that I “had the scoop” on them. As it turns out, their article appeared first in Friday morning’s paper – I published mine later on Friday afternoon.
Now let me be clear – I have nothing against professional reporters – I know and interact with several on a fairly regular basis. The Hawke’s Bay Today article was written by Doug Laing who I have never met, but from memory is one of HBT’s longest-serving journalism staff, so he must be good. This is a poll on whether you think a qualification results in a better article.
* I should mention here that there are people who are both qualified and have an outstanding natural talent. They are very lucky buggers! 😉