First published here on 1/2/2014
This post has been a long time coming. After all, I never thought I would have to reinvent myself. Thinking about it, I’m not really reinventing myself but rather seeking to reinvigorate what has become, for various reasons, a very much-stalled career.
I reached this re-invigoration rather than reinvention conclusion after coming across a guest blog on the Harvard Business Review Blog Network by Marc Freedman, founder and CEO of Encore.org Now, for the moment I am not a particularly avid reader of blogs (although I should be if I intend making money writing them for others) but what caught me here is this:
“After years studying social innovators in the second half of life — individuals who have done their greatest work after 50 — I’m convinced the most powerful pattern that emerges from their stories can be described as reintegration, not reinvention.”
To bring this career back online I need to introduce considerable vitality in getting my journalistic engines running smoothly, again. And, for someone who began (albeit it belatedly) back in the early eighties, coming to grips with the technological requirements for today’s journalists is mind-boggling, if not downright daunting.
Hell, I now live in South Korea, one of the world’s most wired countries, and I don’t even own a ‘Smartphone’; woe is me.
It has been a long time since living in Port Augusta, gateway to the South Australian Outback, from where I began reporting news.
Starting as a stringer with ABC radio via Radio 5CK out of Port Pirie, then with The Advertiser (before it became part of the Murdoch stable) and later Macquarie National News via Adelaide’s Radio 5DN. And, among other things, back when it was probably the only Murdoch publication worth reading, I wrote occasional features for the likes of The Australian and worked as a ‘fixer’ when metro-based news teams were sent to the Iron Triangle covering major stories, such as the Campaign Against Nuclear Energy (CANE) Roxby Downs (Olympic Dam Uranium Mine) Blockade.
In later years I went on to work a staffer and freelancer from the Northern Territory to Canberra and then back to South Australia before undertaking academic studies in Anthropology, Law, and Criminology, including an academic year doing Advanced Readings and Research in Anthropology at the University of Toronto.
Back then, all that was needed was a notebook, pen, and phone access.
Get the story, write the story, and phone it in.
Additionally handy items were a portable tape recorder and an SLR camera (and access to a fast courier to get film to Adelaide for processing by the paper’s photo boffins). Arguably, the same are still the only requirements for today’s journalist but, with technology being so pervasive, coupled with the seemingly incessant need for ‘immediacy’ (aka constant updates); today’s journalists require so much more, technologically speaking.
And it is not just the tangible hardware requirements but also the intangible, like Facebook and Twitter accounts (corporate and personal).
And, in between, there are the ‘apps’ used to find, record, edit, send, post, aggregate, and disseminate all the material; both incoming from sources and outgoing to press rooms and blog sites or wherever else today’s digital journalists ‘send’ stories.
In my early days, stories were phoned in to copy-takers or recorded as voice pieces over the phone to radio newsrooms. Mobile phones were too expensive (and bloody heavy). And when computers were beginning to make headway as a journalist’s tool many, including myself, were using the NEC PC8201A while others used an Osborne portable computer.
I knew of one who took his Osborne to the Middle East. Sending stories required a landline and acoustic coupler. When no fixed phone was available, especially while on the road in the Outback, it was not unusual to ‘hook’ into phone lines using a linesman’s dialup handset with a pair of alligator clips. The clips also came in handy for hooking tape recorders into a phone’s handset to either send sound bites or record interviews.
So, where do I fit in all the above? How does it relate my reinvigorating a stalled career?
Well, aside from a soon-to-be-acquired ‘Smartphone’ (my wife will love that) creating a website (work-in-progress) with associated clippings, setting up Twitter (although this twit is yet to tweet) and Facebook accounts, establishing a secure online method for being paid for my work, writing this and, of course, work on a plethora of items to market myself and my services, I have to learn, and learn quickly about going digital, which The Guardian’s Katharine Viner describes as “a cluster bomb blowing apart who we are and how our world is ordered.”
“When we think about the future, there’s not a single future. The future for a 20-year-old is clearly very different than the future of a 60-year-old. Each will bring a very different perspective.”
I will leave you to decide which of the two above categories I fit.