Saturday, 11 April 2009

The Student Media Awards 2009

If there's something every media student needs in their lives, it's another chance to be arrogant and competitive. We all need a kick up the backside sometimes, and the yearly Guardian/Sky News/NME Student Media Awards seems to develop a person's desire to kick their fellow aspiring writers into the gutter more roundedly than anything else I've ever come across. Even I, a self-deprecating trainwreck of a person, suddenly believes that there's more than a slight chance of the prize becoming mine. I'd willingly shove my peers into traffic to gain experience at the Guardian - that must be the hack in me.

It's the shiver of realisation that the things you want might not be so out of reach after all that drives me. This might be a completely misguided view of the world - after all, if it was so easy to become a writer, why doesn't everyone who says backhandedly that they want to write actually manage to do it? - but for some reason it seems like there's a very small ridge between wanting it and actually getting it. It's all about who you know, right? So get to know people. Is it really that hard?

Well, yes, in a word. But let's not let that deter us. Contacts come in time, so I've been told. Yes, I have friends who have already managed to write for the NME and have various important "people" in various places of interest but does this worry me? Probably not enough. How did they manage it? God knows, I certainly have no idea, but it probably helps that they're able to talk to strangers with apparent ease, the bloody bastards. Still, my poor delusioned brain won't take "can't" for an answer, and forces me into flights of fancy where I have my own real life desk and get to write features and articles of actual importance and interest to somebody else and get paid for it. It's a dangerous dream, and one that has been greatly exacerbated by working for a well-known pub chain. It's soothing to phase out the John Smiths and broken glass and cackling hen parties with thoughts of a nice clean office and a weekly column. The vacant blissful smile on my face further alienates me from my fellow workers too, which saves me from any awkward small talk-type scenarios. Everyone's a winner.

So, this competition then. I'm in two minds about it. On the one hand, it's not a means to an end. The winner gets £650 and a week's work experience at the Guardian. They also get feedback on their articles from the judges, who are actually quite terrifying (For example, if you were up for "Student Reporter of the Year" you'd get Alan Rusbridger and Jon Snow amongst others) but after that week's up, you'd be That Guy Who Won That Thing - you'd need to do something good or it'd be a waste. That's a lot of pressure. Plus, you'd look like a bit of a swot. All in all though, it's an amazing opportunity that would look so fantastic on your CV that prospective employers might have to restrain themselves throughout your interview to stop themselves from ripping your clothes off then and there.

On the other hand, I'm a coward. There are many other reasons I could give for not entering this competition, most importantly the note in the T&Cs of the competition that states "All work entered must have been published/broadcast in student media during the academic year September 2008 to June 2009" - meaning that Leeds Trinity students are ever so slightly screwed; our newspaper sucks so badly that it now has a staff of about five. We aren't like Leeds Uni (she whines pathetically), we don't have the resources or the funding or the talent. Plus, I already walked out on that newspaper dramatically, I can't just crawl back in for the sake of a competition. My hero got to where he is today by not graduating a media course and fluking his way to semi-fame by pretending to be bleeding-edge by means of a website. A competition seems too lame somehow. I'm clearly a coward. These aren't good enough reasons not to do it. Suck it up, grow a pair, and get the fuck on with it. Harsh words are needed. Get right out of the bed.

Still, as soon as I've finished talking myself out of it, the shiver comes back. It's an unusual feeling, I'd never had real aspirations until I started my second year of my Journalism degree. I hope that thousands of like-minded media students take up this opportunity, no matter how little they believe in their chances of winning. We need to start somewhere. It's a step up from hiding behind a blog, and it's getting your work out somewhere were somebody else can read it. How bloody terrifying. But how exciting, and I am going to enter, just as soon as my tutor emails me back about the student publication thing...

1 comment:

peterRepeater said...

Get Right Out Of The Bed.

How many people - with bona fide jobs in the media - do you think got where they are today by winning a competition?


Secondly, you're talented enough to succeed at anything. And you clearly have a passion for it. Keep the fire in your belly, and so I say...

Stop worrying and bloody get on with it! Write, write write and write some more. One day, something will slip through the net and you'll have your break - I honestly believe that.

No Half Measures. ;-)

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