April has proved to be a month of doom and gloom in local newspapers.
Over the last month, numerous local newspapers have gone from being dailies to weeklies, cut evening and weekend editions and had major restructures. All of these things have put journalists’ jobs at risk of redundancy.
A quick look through recent articles on the Press Gazette suggests that at least 43 jobs are at risk of redundancy across the country right now because of these changes. With even more likely as it becomes apparent how changes are going to affect staff.
So, to say that this is a scary time to be trying to get into local press would be a massive understatement. And yet, that’s what I’m trying to do.
And the redundancies are worrying. And the thought of getting a job at a local newspaper to find that six months down the line I’ve been made redundant because I was the last one in and a restructure is forcing job cuts is a genuinely terrifying thought for me. But it’s a thought I’m not allowing myself to have. I can’t let fear prevent me from achieving what I want. I have to do everything I possibly can.
And I think part of that is finding ways to make myself indispensable to an editorial team once I’ve landed that job. It’s no longer going to be enough for me, or any other wannabe hack, to just get on with work and get the copy on the editor’s desk before the deadline. We have to do more than that. We have to go above and beyond our job description. If that means singlehandedly teaching a newsroom to engage with social media then so be it. But it could also mean doing the less fun parts of the job, like offering to go to council meetings without moaning. Or working extra hours to look into a story that needs a bit more investigating.
And I genuinely think that’s going to prove to be the key to keeping jobs in the industry. I think increasingly it’s going to be harder to land the trainee roles with local newspapers and then harder again to follow those roles through to senior reporter roles. But that needn’t put us off. I think as young wannabe hacks we have a lot to offer local newspapers and, while the thought of redundancies isn’t encouraging, if we get our foot in the door and make ourselves a key part of an editorial team we might just survive the cuts.
Featured image by Susan Sharpless Smith
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After finishing my stint in student media, I couldn’t help but look