Postcards from the coalface: Journalism graduates’ transition to the newsroom
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Like many offices, news rooms can be cold and heartless places, staffed by disillusioned people who manage to make even the world's most important events appear mundane. Perhaps such an atmosphere in an accountancy firm would come as no surprise to a business graduate on her first day at work. To ease the transition she might well have read some Dickens or Paterson, portraying a city office life peopled by frail, pencil pushing pedants whose lives depend upon their carefully scratched entries onto perfect, pristine balance sheets. But what if she has entered journalism with her heart set on becoming the next Jana Wendt or has her sights on a career as an investigative reporter like Watergate's Bernstein and Woodward; her mind full of celluloid and best-seller images of journalism as an action-packed, glamorous, jet-setting career of sojourns with famous people and world exclusive bylined front pages? Certainly, the literature supports the notion that many entrants have such a pre-conception (Pearson, 1988). Having struck the jackpot of getting a media position on graduation, our graduate could well find herself sitting in the corner of a dingy office for the next several months, typing and formatting the television programs in between making coffee for a scowling, chauvinistic editor, barely able to feed and clothe herself on a below-poverty line pittance, with her only hope of some variation in the routine being a promise that, if she performs well, she might be promoted in six months or so to writing promotional paragraphs about some of the advertisers.
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