As most people know, I’m at uni (again) doing a Masters in Magazine Journalism. After various career attempts and working out what being an adult meant to me, I decided that more education and another MA would be an almost logical step. (Although I still don’t understand what being an adult means…)
I’m a third of the way through this MA and almost nine weeks into semester two now, and if I’m really honest, this absolutely terrifies me. Although graduating from any degree is scary – it doesn’t make it any less overwhelming third time around. Since I last wrote about Journalism here, I have given up shorthand – having realised that despite how much I tried (and I persevered for six weeks), Dyspraxia and shorthand just don’t go together. Almost like attempting to climb a mountain in flippers – you wouldn’t get very far.
Once I’d decided to drop shorthand, I finally completed semester one, with the arrival of exams towards the end of January. I hadn’t sat any exams in seven years. After managing to get through my youth work degree without exams, and with only a few at undergrad, the last formal exam I sat was when I was twenty one. I was, as you can imagine just a little bit terrified. My first introduction to Journalism was media law, something that every journalist has to do. Learning what you can and can’t do, both ethically and so you don’t get arrested. With this comes learning lots of laws, acts, codes and numbers. I struggled, of course I did – and anyone who tells you they find media law exams a breeze, I’m almost certain they’d be lying. They really need to stop writing laws, otherwise journalists in twenty years are going to be there forever trying to remember them all and the McNaes textbook would equate to war and peace. Exams and exhaustion aside and with the knowledge that I’ve got through law and Public Affairs, we are well into semester two.
This year, the MA focusses on developing the skills to make us into an ‘all rounded journalist’- I’ve always been wary when people want allrounders because I know it is one thing I am not. I can probably write my way out of most things, but asking me to solve a simultaneous equation or to do anything practical, would have different results. Shorthand is a prime example of this. On top of being able to write, journalists are encouraged to understand at least the basics of photography, production, infographics and video.
As someone who struggles with spatial awareness and Visual perception, and who sees the world in words and not pictures, means that working out how far away the subject I’m taking a photo of is or if the box I’ve drawn on indesign is straight has caused lots of swearing at computers and led to confusion over design. Deciding how to frame something or understanding perspective, has been a challenge because most of the time I often can’t see it. The mechanics of a tripod even baffle me, and thats before I’ve even got a camera out. This all comes down to being able to process the visual information around you accurately to determine what is needed to take a good photo or having the coordination to make sure the tripod doesn’t fall over. Writing is what I love though, so if I don’t get all of these nice added extras it’s not the end of the world. That said, I am giving everything a go, and I’m certain I will get it all eventually. I’ll even make someone like me enough to want to take me on for a placement, that at the moment is a long list of rejections – something I’ve started to get used to.
The most exciting project this semester, is to design, print and distribute a group magazine. Back in November we awoke to the unthinkable happening in America, how could they be so stupid? We said. The same questions we asked as we woke up to the news that we were leaving the EU, although our generation, the under 30’s had overwhelmingly voted to remain. Then, we didn’t know each other but individually felt that something must be done to ensure that young people are listened to. Now we do know each other, and nothing has changed – we are five different voices who have been brought together through journalism so that we can make that difference. The day after Trump was elected, we all turned up at uni – lacking sleep, but full of anger and a determination to make things better. Our lecturer saw that doing anything on the planned financing magazines session wouldn’t be productive – so he gave us the three hour session, to rant, be angry, debate and almost cry.
“As a group of Journalists, you can do something” he said.
And that is exactly what we resolved to do.
After Christmas we returned, with that same passion and determination to do something. And so our project generated from that angry conversation about Trump began. The magazine is now known as Stand Up magazine and has become something that we are all deeply proud of. Stand Up aims to empower young people to get involved in politics, and is a way to channel our anger towards recent political events and anything that affects young people disproportionately. We wanted to demonstrate that young people do have something to say, giving them the platform to have a voice. The magazine will cover the stories of young people and marginalised groups who are often silenced, from LGBT, disabilities, animal activists, women, Asylum seekers and refugees. We’re trying to be as representative of society as possible.
Of course there’s a lot to do, from crowdfunding, printing, advertising to launch parties, as well as the actual writing of articles and hunting down sources. We’re practically taking on and running a business alongside the MA. I’m working with one of the best groups of people I could ever ask to work with on this project, so I know that it’s going to be something really special. The support Stand Up has had on Twitter and through our other social media platforms has been overwhelming, we covered the Unite for Europe march on Saturday and couldn’t believe the responses. Our phones didn’t stop buzzing.
As a young person I always felt that I wasn’t listened to personally and more generally. I was fed up of having to explain and justify myself to others. I didn’t feel that my voice was valued and campaigned to make young people’s opinions count. One of the reasons I trained as a youth worker, was to make a difference to the lives of young people, and to give them the voice that I never had. So when the the magazine group agreed on a magazine addressing issues so close to my heart, I knew that the answer to: “Have I made the right decision to start this Masters?” was yes.
I went into journalism, because I know that writing has always been my strength but I also wanted to tell the stories of those who are forgotten about in the media. Words are important, and being able to convey others voices well is something that I am determined to do.
Journalism aside, and I really do know that I have made the right choice and career change. I’ve found a sense of belonging here, more than I have ever felt before. As cheesy as it sounds I almost feel ‘at home.’ I don’t have to justify myself to anyone, I can just be me. This alone is pretty special for someone who has never really fitted in. The magazine cohort are a great team, complimenting each others strengths and being supportive where necessary. Our group chat gets in the way of uni work most days but the gif wars are often worth it. I am really proud to be part of such a great group of people, and to be entering a profession of equally talented and brilliant people.
If you’d like a copy of our finished magazine, do get in touch and I’m sure we can arrange something. We have also booked our magazine launch party and ordered a group mascot – so the pressure really is on.