Rambles, rants and raves

A lot of opinions spilling out of my brain


No more More!

So More! magazine is set to release its last issue tomorrow. It’s always sad to see a publication close and journalists be out of a job for at least a little while but I must admit I wasn’t a big fan of More!

I understood what it was trying to be: sexy, fun and an easy read but it was also judging, critical and sometimes a little degrading. Obviously I have no doubt that the writers, editors and the whole team behind the magazine worked incredibly hard to reach their deadlines and write what they thought their target market wanted but I think a key to their closure is that they weren’t really targeting their market, young females, very well at all.

I know it wasn’t a magazine that was trying to take itself too seriously, after all a common (and I’m told popular) feature of the magazine was its sex position of the fortnight which was kindly demonstrated by Barbie and Ken, but it’s superficiality spread to its thinking. Beauty, sex, how you look to others, celebrity’s bodies and how you can make your body look like a celebrity’s body were the main areas that More! seemed to venture to whenever I picked up the magazine.

It was a magazine you read as a teenager. Mainly to laugh at because you thought it was a little bit naughty and it felt like an adult’s magazine with teenage content. That was the selling point, at least when More! was more popular than it is now (duh, it wouldn’t be closing otherwise). But times have changed and though readers don’t want to consistently be given serious content to maul over and think about, a mixture of that and the lighthearted material seems a better choice for reading material if you’re to choose a magazine.

More! didn’t realise this and it didn’t adapt. It remained a teenager masking as an adult. Readers are more complex than that. Readers now have an overbearing amount of information at the click of a button and a magazine that only provides the easy stuff is never going to be able to survive. Especially when that magazine provides an unhealthy obsession with certain topics (including insulting celebrities that are too fat, thin, tall, short – whatever – you get the picture).

Readers now demand more from their publications because they can. They have options now and the internet can provide all of it. A paper-based publication can survive if it acknowledges this and adapts. Join its online content with its paper based one to provide one huge world for its reader so that the publication can continuously evolve with the reader. More! wasn’t able to provide more (awful pun completely intended) and because of that it has been forced to close down.

You cannot continue to provide the same sort of content that you have been doing for so long, no matter how well you do it and when all your material falls into the same spectrum and doesn’t reach further or try to, then it’s never going to be able to compete with the demanding readership of today.


Free of shorthand. Normality resumes.

So it’s no big secret that I have always wanted to live in a musical. Not be in a musical but actually live in one. Shorthand revision has kind of destroyed my life and yesterday I received the best news in the world, I passed my 100 words per minute. It is probably the biggest achievement of my life.

I mean I’m proud of the driving license and the fact I was able to save enough to buy my car (despite it being old enough to be someone’s grandmother – if it were a human obviously), my degree and my wonderful job and the fact I’ve been able to keep some great friends despite my inability to hold it together and organise a meet up without planning four things for the same time. But shorthand was bloody hard and I probably had more breakdowns revising and practising for my 100wpm than I have ever had in my life, and that is saying something – I was pretty dramatic as a teenager.

Anyway I’ve passed and I’m so happy that I don’t quite believe it’s happened. I keep checking my results to make sure it hasn’t changed and so far, so good.

My pass means that I am slowly returning to the real world where I actually have free time to do what I want and where I don’t have to finish work and then go and work some more. It’s nice, I forgot what life without revision feels like. It’s pretty sweet and the thing that’s really nice is I am spending time with my family again and once I feel I have caught up with them, I’ll be able to catch up with my friends. It’s nice to have time. Time to do what I want and to have spare time to ‘waste’ doing nothing at all.

Blogging can now resume and I’m going to try really hard to get back to how it was before I fell off the face of the Earth and landed in Shorthand Land (do not let the rhyme fool you into thinking it is a happy place). I feel like Andy in The Shawshank Redemption (SPOILER) after he crawls through all that shit to escape prison and he looks up to the sky as the rain cleans it all off. Shorthand is my metaphorical shit, I am Andy, and my pass is the rain cleaning it all off me.

Here’s to hard work paying off, the desperate determination to achieve and everything working out in the end. Shorthand is done, 100 words per minute completed and normality resumes.


Shorthand has taken over my life

SHERLOCK JR.This is what I should be doing. This would benefit me in many ways, it would help me with the whole journalism thing, it would help me with my blogging and it would help me not feel like ripping my hair out because I have to master the ability of writing at 100 words a minute.

Shorthand has taken over my life and sadly it is a necessary thing to pass the course (the exam is this Friday!) and also a requirement of many, many places.

Wait, you say. You already have a job at your local paper, you say. And I would smile at you with a painful smile and say: “alas I do but I still need my 100 words a minute, I have to have it. It is an expectation.” Then I would hang my head out of exhaustion and the reluctance to face up explaining further as I lock myself in a room and listen to shorthand passages about pubs called The Rose and Crown and planning permission for an old folk’s home.

Shorthand is taking over my life. I seem to have reached my limit somewhere just before the 100. When people speak to me I see the shorthand symbols coming out of their mouths like some weird, journalistic Alice in Wonderland experience. I am practising until either my hand hurts or my brain cannot take any more words and so I can no longer understand what is being said.

If I fail this exam I will carry on until I can retake it in two weeks time, like a weary traveller because that’s how I feel. If I pass, I will rejoice with the biggest celebration I can contemplate in my tired mind, it sounds almost too good to be true: cheesecake, wine and the boy. Perfect.



I feel like this guy right now. Well my brain does.

He looks a lot more relaxed than I feel. He's also doing the splits so we're obviously less similar than I initially thought.

He looks a lot more relaxed than I feel. He’s also doing the splits so we’re obviously less similar than I initially thought.

You know him, good old roadrunner. My brain seems to be imitating him at the moment, trying to work extremely fast. And then there’s my body, which is the coyote and is trying very  hard to catch up but always seems one step behind. This causes me to panic. It means that my brain is reminding me of a thousand things I need to do, say or write while my body tries not to hit my head against the wall to quieten my brain.

You see my predicament?

I have also seemed to lost a week at some point between now and the beginning of the year – which I only realised now means I must have lost last week, or am in the process of losing this week. I don’t know anymore. All I know is that my exams are next week to qualify me as a journalist/reporter. I am prepared but more needs to be done: more notes taken, more books read and more things highlighted. It’s a work in progress and anyway, revision never really ends.

I am also starting my first real journalism job as soon as my course ends where I will be a reporter for my local newspaper. (Pause for screams of hysteria). It’s so exciting that I get butterflies every time I think about it.

It means I am officially on my chosen career path and I’m one step closer to getting that dream job.  It also means there are a lot of things I need to read, sign and then give back in. Another thing my brain is screaming at me to do. Screaming so loud in fact, that my fingers are trying to type this so quickly that I’m expecting either they keyboard to set on fire or smoke to come out of my fingertips any moment now.

Okay so I have created a mental to-do list. A mixture of guilt, pure adrenalin (from realising how fast time can go when you’re not paying attention to it) and the need to revise to ease my inner-geek means that this blog post is short, pointless, probably doesn’t make much sense and is ending right here.


Niche, niche, niche

I’ve spoken to a few journalists, editors etc and they have all told me the same advice: get a niche, a speciality. Apparently Jack of all Trades isn’t the most popular guy in the room any longer. Luckily I never fitted into this whole ‘all trades’ category so I don’t have to cry too long about any time nurturing a unneeded talent to better my professional future unnecessarily. Niches and specialities are where it’s at at the moment. This little bit advice, although given by journalists to someone wanting to be a journalist, does not only fall into the journalistic and media career path. It’s all the rage now, to be able to have a speciality: something you’re an expert on.

To be honest, I’m not sure what to say. I write on this blog what would be deemed as comment pieces. They are opinion. In terms of journalism, when working as Deputy Editor for my student paper I wrote for all sections: film, comment, news and lifestyle to name but a few. I know what type of journalism I want to go into but how can I class myself as a specific subject writer when I haven’t had enough experience to truly be honest in this bragging right?

It’s the vicious circle of work experience again. If I don’t have the experience I can’t find the niche that’s screaming for me. If I’m not carrying said niche on my shoulder while it whispers me expert facts and makes me sound clever then I’m less likely to get the experience. Oh, how I loathe it.

I’m also not a fan of niches, mainly because I have a fear of not keeping my options open. It’s strange however that I know by choosing a niche, a section of this big old world and becoming an expert in it, I could give myself more options, more cards than I have now. Right now, I’m holding an ace, a couple of low numbers and a joker. I can risk it for a better hand. If it doesn’t work out then I just need to keep adapting until it does.

Niches are scary though. There are niches in niches in niches. It’s like the biggest maze ever taken from some crazy children’s book. Obviously the trick with the advice given to me is to become a specialist (so to speak) but not so niche that I can only write about blonde haired women featured on TV during prime time that wear green. Maybe not that drastic but you get the idea.

I guess having a niche or a speciality shows that you have the commitment and dedication to actually learn more than the average person on a subject. It shows that you can keep a focus on something for longer than five minutes (a common feature of today’s society). It’s not just what the specialist subject is about, although that’s important I guess (saying that a world renowned newspaper editor began her career on a tractor magazine). It’s about the traits it shows in you as a person.

Right, I’ve convinced myself (as if the advice wasn’t enough!). I need a niche. I’m off looking for mine, the one thing I can begin training myself to be an expert on, wish me luck. Not sure what will qualify me to one day announce that I have a niche but when that moment comes, I will make myself a badge.

Me looking for my niche. I’ll obviously be wearing clothes and carrying a bigger magnifying glass.

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I want to be a journalist and I know people say the media is evil and marketing is the problem to our problems. But you can’t deny they’re geniuses, or if you can then you have to also accept that the general public are idiots. I think this cartoon proves my point in a much better way than my still developing words can explain.

Image taken from http://www.weheartit.com