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The Craft of Journalism

The Craft of Journalism

Young People and Journalism in the South Atlantic Islands


By J. Brock (FINN)


Photo – 1: Don’t drop the dead donkey! These on Tristan are alive and well and remind us that the best news stories are not complicated. Photo © J. Brock (SARTMA)

Interested people should realise what is going to happen to them when they enter into journalism as a career. Today’s it is quite different than it was when “The Young Man and Journalism” was written. For one thing, journalism is no longer for ‘men only’. A lot has happened since 1922 and it is necessary to update this vital book to reflect changes. Updates are not complicated and they are penned to help the general public - not editors - understand the craft, with a view to recruiting people for the profession and to regain the respect that the craft once had. Hopefully this update will help people to understand what journalism has become over the past 85 years since “The Young Man and Journalism” was published.

Educational requirements, writing standards, ethical considerations, newspaper lay-out, printing equipment and newsgathering have all changed since then. Most technical changes are welcome but there are changes in educational requirements, ethical considerations and writing standards that are not so welcome.

Though the internet has replaced libraries to do research, study is still necessary to produce well written articles that inform as well as entertain. Thanks to the internet my publication of “The Young Man and Journalism” contained photographs and graphics that my uncle mentioned in 1922 but for one reason or another weren’t add to his book.

Photo 2: Sarah Glass, Left, and Laurian Rogers, Right -. Sarah is the Tristan Bureau Chief of SARTMA and edits the Tristan Times Online Newspaper. Laurian heads Atlantic – FM – a radio station serving Tristan da Cunha as well as those at sea in their area of the South Atlantic.

The decision to re-publish “The Young Man and Journalism” and to update it came when I was on my way to the Patches on Tristan da Cunha with my apprentice and ‘adopted’ granddaughter, Sarah Glass and long time friend, Laurian Rogers. I hadn’t seen Sarah for 18 months and Laurian for three years, so it was helpful to touch bases face to face and talk about the craft of journalism. But all was not well.

In the 85 years since “The Young Man and Journalism” was published the craft had become a dirty word – and two years after granting Tristan da Cunha its own online newspaper with a Tristanian running it – the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Granted £6,000.00 to the Government of Tristan da Cunha to set up an alternative website that included news. Though Sarah had been promised news at the same time the other website got it, that promise had not been kept and we were discussing the way forward when it came to me that something needed to be done to bring back integrity to the craft of journalism. My main concern was to find out what had happened to that integrity over the 85 years since “The Young Man and Journalism” had been published and how to put it right.

Photo 3: Tristan’s potato patches are an area on the Island where people get together and socialize as well as grow crops.

At first I realised that I wasn’t to blame for all of journalism’s woes. In the United Kingdom and in the United States as well as other parts of the world, there are enough people working in the craft and they support each other. Added to that, the populations where they work run into the billions. Here, on the South Atlantic Islands the population base is very small (10,000) and by nature the newspapers we publish must have integrity, or soon we would run out of people to write about and readers as well.

Rather than write ex-cathedra I took the decision to write about the basics of good journalism and show how those basics in practice can make a successful newspaper with lots of readers.

J. L. B. (With more than a little help from Sarah and Laurian) Edinburgh of the Seven Seas, Tristan da Cunha Twenty hundred and seven


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