Journalism. PR. Again.

Very nice piece by Damien McCrystal in the Guardian today. I especially liked this bit:

"Why are people deserting journalism for PR, or going straight into PR from university?

It might be the lure of money, because journalists' average pay has been in decline in real terms for some time, according to the NUJ. But I don't think that's the only reason. Money was certainly a motivator for me, but I would have crossed over anyway to what PRs gleefully refer to as "the dark side", because PR is more fun than journalism these days, and fun is what we were after (with the exception of a few crusaders) when we became hacks in the first place. It was cool to tell people what you did for a living and see how impressed they were.

It was cool that important grown-ups listened to you and treated your opinions with respect, or at least pretended to. And it was cool to get your own back in print when necessary. It was fun. But where's the fun in having to produce so much copy that you don't have the time or budget to meet your contacts? Or in being scared to ask for a pay rise? Or in not being allowed to devote sufficient resources to get your story right?"

Yes. Yes to all. I loved the good bits of journalism but I didn't enjoy working every hour that god sent, not having the time to follow through a good story and, yes, indulging in Churnalism to make sure there were enough stories for the next day. And pay. Pay is a massive issue with pretty much every single one of my friends who was or still is in journalism.

PR was, to me, never the easy option. Just a different option. And, in my current role, one that allowed me to look at how the internet could be harnessed for all media. The challenges are different, not easier (although having time for lunch is still a novelty). Just as I always had respect for good PR people when I was in journalism (who could be worth their weight in gold at the right time), so I always have respect for good journalists now I'm on the other side of the fence.

Would I ever return to journalism? Possibly. But I like what I do too much to go back at the moment. Anyway, I have this blog and other assorted writings that keep my hand in, and part of my mindset is still set in journalism mode, and I doubt that'll ever change. That's probably a good thing.

Besides, both professions are changing because of the web, and that's the area I want to stay in more than anything else. Ultimately, we're both storytellers and the way we tell stories is changing. Are you excited about that? I certainly am.