COMMENT: Leaving journalism and ‘gathering content’

 

I left my job as deputy sports editor of a daily newspaper on July 26 this year.

I spent 20 years in journalism, more than half my life. A scary thought.

The industry is sadly struggling and the company I worked for wasn’t immune to the slump. So, after months of deliberation, stress and self-doubt, I decided to move on through a voluntary redundancy scheme and embark on a new challenge.

The decision to leave didn’t come easily. But every time I weighed up the pros and cons of both staying in my job and leaving, I kept drawing to the same conclusion – time for a change.

The job had lost its charm and verve. The days of a being a roving reporter had been replaced by filling boxes in a stale office environment – the legacy of relentless cutbacks and staff shortages, a plight suffered by most newspapers these days.

It was hard to get enthused by the work anymore, and what had been a wonderful career suddenly sagged into an unsatisfying job.

Leaving full-time employment is a daunting experience. I have sacrificed a good, constant wage to step into the unknown.

There are no job opportunities in journalism. There is some freelance work, but not enough to keep the mortgage people happy and feed two young children.

At first, I thought I had swerved into a career cul-de-sac. My entire working life was journalism, and I didn’t have any university degree or qualifications to bolster my employment hopes.

I looked at web development as a potential next step, but after gauging the reaction of some experienced developers I knew the learning curve was far too steep!

But the more networking I did, the more options suddenly emerged from the shadows. Public Relations, Content Marketing, Social Media Marketing, Branded Content Marketing. I started reversing out of my ‘career cul-de-sac’.

And here I am, writing my first-ever blog. It is a little side project to keep me occupied and motivated as I (hopefully) embark on my new career in Content Marketing, Social Media Marketing or whatever path finds me.

I remember a few years ago when my job title changed from ‘Sports Reporter’ to ‘Content Gatherer’, a decision that was met with a hefty dollop of disdain and disgust.

Being a reporter or journalist carried some gravitas. It was a badge of honour that you were proud to wear. But being a ‘Content Gatherer’? What did it even mean?

Looking back, maybe my employer knew what the future held in store.

Content is everywhere now. It is essentially everything you touch or interact with – what you see on websites and social media – Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube…the list is endless.

And in many cases, the core of the content is writing.

“We are a society of publishers, without even realising it”

We are a society of publishers, without even realising it. Writing ‘content’ is something I have been accustomed to over the past two decades, in the form of sports stories and social media posts. But I need to learn a lot more and develop my skills if I want to forge a career specifically in content marketing.

This blog will hopefully offer me the chance to upskill even further. Writing content is one thing, but providing quality content to potential customers is another.

That is the challenge.

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