Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Comment is Free...

Stuff like this really gets my turnip in a twist.
 
On the Guardian Comment is Free site today there's an article written by an Architecture graduate, Zeta Freeman, quite rightly having a moan about the lack of jobs around for grads at the moment. Fair enough. I can obviously sympathise, having spent 4 years working hard to get a distinction in my Contemporary Lit & Film Masters and a BA hons in English myself. I know the frustration in spending hours applying for jobs, doing unpaid placements and shamelessly pimping the CV, yet not being able to find the elusive paid editorial assistant / writing job. After telling us she claims Job Seekers while looking for her ideal 'Assistant' job, she finishes on the point that it's not what you know, but who you know. Again, a very true point and one I'm all too aware of.
 
She says:
 
"To make the situation even more frustrating a lot of the people on my course do have assistant jobs. The key difference between them and me is that they have a family member who is an architect or contacts within the industry. The few positions that are emerging during this period of economic doom and gloom never see the light of day – they are snapped up by or created for someone's son or daughter, niece or nephew.
 
I don't know what more I can do – I have studied hard, done well and been pro-active in my search for employment. But unfortunately the current job market just highlights the fact that it's not what you know, it's who you know."
 
 
Right? You with me? So if you haven't guessed it already, here's the irritating thing.
 
She's writing this on the Guardian website, which gets however many thousand hits a day - that's pretty good exposure and an amazing feather in the old flat cap. Now, I don't know how she got that writing gig, but the first thing that sprung to my mind, and others in the comments section, was 'so who's this girl related to?'. In other words, how does an architecture student - who apparently spends all day looking for a job in architecture - get a job writing for the Guardian's most popular blog?
 
Here's a girl lamenting about being unable to get a job unless you know someone. Yet how many aspiring writers (myself included) would love to be published under a Guardian byline? How many English graduates, journalism students and other writers struggle to get 'in' at newspapers and magazines because the editor's relative or friend gets there first? Yet in swans Miss Architecture Degree and nabs the Guardian gig...how exactly?
 
I for one will be keeping an eye on the comments section. I really hope she landed it after months of scratching around, pitching ideas and sending the article off to every editors' email she can get her hands on. But we all know that probably didn't happen. So. Is it a sister, brother or parent's friend? Lets take bets.
 
I love a bit of irony in the afternoon...

12 comments:

Chapati said...

You make an excellent point!

Let us know what you find in the comments section - I had a root around but there seems to be nothing yet..

arbyn said...

FANTASTIC observation!

It is completely who you know--blast them all!

ninetyninewords said...

Apparently via her sister if this comment is genuine...


""Roxarella

19 Aug 09, 3:20pm (about 5 hours ago)

First of all Zeta is in no way related to Hadley or anyone else at The Guardian. She is my sister and I did a days work experience on the comment desk last week, while I was there they were discussing getting blogs from young people who are currently job hunting, so I mentioned to Zeta that she submit one.

As it happens anybody that has an opinion on a news subject can propose a blog to the comment is free desk, if you can string a few sentences together and have an interesting angle then it may get put up on the website.

Also as I said earlier the common presumption that Zeta is from a privileged background is so far from the truth it is unbelievable!

Finally she wont be contributing to the debate she's busy job hunting.""


Now, the real question is, who does her sister know?

Please Don't Eat With Your Mouth Open said...

Yeah saw that one... ha! Sister completely misses the point. She's still getting in via the 'know someone' route.

Then again, the sister only got 1 days work experience at CiF. Gotta be, what... 2nd cousin on the shoe-in? Surely a direct relation would at least have got you a week ;)

Please Don't Eat With Your Mouth Open said...

Ooh hold up, stats say she's googling herself...

Roxy said...

Haha and that sister is me! Yes I suggested Zeta write a blog for Comment is Free thinking maybe it would help her job hunt.

You are all presuming I work for The Guardian, so let me put you straight.

I finished a degree in European politics last year and then did a fast track NCTJ certificate. I am an aspiring journalist who applied online through the Positive Action scheme to do some work experience with The Guardian. I was working on the comment desk when this whole NEETS thing came out and I suggested they get a young person to comment on it.

Thats it, nothing more, we are not from a privileged background at all, far from it! it fact if you wish to find out the real history of our family take a look at G2 next week. I should have my first piece published and for once in life this is not due to "who you know"...

Good luck with your career.

Please Don't Eat With Your Mouth Open said...

Hehe, there we go...thought a response might have been imminent.

First up, thanks for the good wishes and seriously, congrats for getting in at the Guardian & getting something published in G2. I know how hard it is to break through the net and you've obviously worked hard.

The point I'm making in this post is more about the irony. Zeta got a paid job - whether it's the one she wanted or not - by knowing you. So it's ironic to write an article about how annoying it is that people only can only get jobs by knowing someone, when ultimately thats exactly what happened in this instance.

Even so - the fact that you, her own sister, managed to get a job off your own back actually simultaneously disproves the point she was making in the first place. It's clearly not just about knowing someone, but finding the right schemes and to an extent - being good at what you do. You'll also find a hell of a lot of writers on the Guardian website being sons and daughters of established journalists, hense the scepticism on the comments.

So now, I don't even know what case I'm arguing for. But I'm still mildly irritated / jealous. Probably the latter. It's like, I could have written that article, I'm not saying better, just written it, having been through the same stuff - but would have worked hard to get there and fulfilled a massive career ambition.

That's frustrating.

Roxy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Roxy said...

Yes indeed she did get it printed because I was at The Guardian on a work placement, however, the Comment pieces are not paid, they are merely a way of expressing an opinion, neither Zeta nor I received any payment for the piece.

Also the article wasn't really supposed to be about "its not who you know" that was just one comment she put in that got picked up on by the editor and put in the standfirst, it was initially written in response to a completely different article (not the NEETS one) but they held it back and edited the introduction and ending to make it fit the NEETS story.

Zeta hasn't taken part in the debate because she has found it all quite harsh and critical which is a response she wasn't expecting (naive maybe) I'm still of the opinion that no publicity is bad publicity...

And I was googling Zeta for a few reasons: I'm addicted to the internet, I love a good debate, I was checking out how quickly Guardian articles come up top on google.

AS for trying to get a career in journalism or architecture for that matter, what the hell where we all thinking? marketing or some such thing would have been a more reliable option.

But seriously the if you have an idea about a comment piece it needs to be related to a current news story about, be 700 words and a good debate topic. Not paid but good exposure, especially if you want to be a comment writer!

Best regards

Roxy Freeman

Please Don't Eat With Your Mouth Open said...

All points taken - I stand corrected where appropriate!

"AS for trying to get a career in journalism or architecture for that matter, what the hell where we all thinking? marketing or some such thing would have been a more reliable option."

Oh tell me about it. I often wonder why it couldn't be me blessed with the maths genes. As it is, I can string a sentence together but I don't know my times tables. Bah. However, your sister should check out the comments, there may have been a job offer or three in there! A lot were also positive.

Thanks for the comments and advice, Roxy.

All Mod Cons said...

Surreal reading the post, then this comment conversation between the 2 of you. Or is that just me?

Please Don't Eat With Your Mouth Open said...

Just you.

;-)

 

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