FOR me, I’m rather afraid it was the free records.
The reason I became a journalist. I wish I could say I was inspired after learning about Watergate or reading Scoop or even watching Press Gang.
But mainly it was the realisation that, in return for a couple of hundred self-indulgent words, someone would send me Antics by Interpol.
Not perhaps, on reflection, the best way to choose a job and a career and a life – but it was a good album. So swings and roundabouts.
I got my pack of CDs one day, started writing the next, and decided, on the third, this might be a better way of making a living than doing a real job. I came to Sheffield, got me some qualifications and, not even when my first editor told me it was a noble trade I was entering, could I be put off.
The only thing that changed, thereafter, was I decided writing about music was, in the words of Elvis Costello, like dancing about architecture. Kind of pointless.
I’ve been thinking on this of late as I’ve found myself watching The Exclusives.
Have you seen it? It’s on ITV2 so perhaps you haven’t. But someone told me it was about six young hacks scooping their way into the world of journalism so I thought I’d give it a go.
I admit I was sceptical – and not just because one critic (some chick on The Independent so it doesn’t really count) called it an abomination.
No, I was sceptical because, thinking of my own experience as a cub reporter, I wasn’t convinced it would make riveting viewing.
I mean, for sure, there is something thrilling about coming out of a parish council meeting with the breaking news the village hanging blooms will be chrysanthemums this year instead of petunias – but I wasn’t sure how well that would transfer to ITV2. Same applied to attending school fetes or skip fires.
Would that really appeal on a channel where Joey Essex is the flagship star?
Turns out not.
The Exclusives was actually an Apprentice-style gameshow where six rookies were put through their paces on magazines like Heat and more! – thus meeting celebrities (or the DJs from Capital FM, anyway) and, um, getting to step on red carpets in search of C-lister scoops. They were never once sent to a jumble sale in Elsecar.
And it was pretty awful.
But also pretty great in that so-bad-it’s-good kind of way, which is as-good-a-way-as-any these days, it seems.
I liked it when Hayley – previously a glamour model – told an interviewee to imagine her naked. I wondered why we were never taught that technique at Norton College.
And I liked it when they went to the press bar and – except for one lass, Ellie – all drank halves. I could have told you then she would win. She did. She got a year’s contract on the magazines.
And then the other five, presumably, went back to the provinces and, if they were lucky, got work on a weekly in Bognor Regis.
Either way, I couldn’t help empathising with them all, wanting to offer words of encouragement and advice. I liked them but wondered if they weren’t being slightly mislead.
“Journalism is exciting,” one of the judges said.
Looking at staffers fawning over Amy Childs I’ve never been less convinced; I’ve never remembered those chrysanthemums so fondly.