Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Succumbing to #badfeatureideas

Considering that a month ago I wrote a long and dispassionate rant about Twitter not being an acceptable topic for endless features and column inches, I'm only mentioning it now to explain this particular blog's title - it's called a "hashtag". It's a way of quickly searching for information. So every time I think of a truly terrible idea for a feature I use #badfeatureidea, mainly so that I can look back on them and think about how rubbish I am most of the time. That, and to get a smug sense of self-satisfaction when I realise that my so-called bad feature idea has been used unwittingly by somebody in a paid writing position. This hasn't happened yet.

So now that I've apologised for being a hypocritical arse, I can explain what I was talking about in the first place. Basically, I thought up an idea for a feature that revolved around my doomed attempts at gaining some kind of paid writing work. This was swiftly disregarded as "shit". This morning however, I woke up especially tired and confused, which meant that my morning reading schedule was slightly more surreal than usual. Aside from awkwardly laughing at news articles other people would find "sad" or possibly even "harrowing"; my zombie-like pre-vitamin C state led me to find a piece on job applications particularly scathing. Mainly because I was roughly a millimetre away from applying for the exact job mentioned in the article just yesterday.

The feature, posted on journalism.co.uk jokingly dismisses many of the applicants for the 25p a word feature writing gig as "have-a-go heroes", and probably quite rightly has a good old laugh at some of the more hilarious CVs the poor prospective employer was sent while she was on holiday. Fair enough, if I was in her shoes I'd have probably been a little bit crueler - especially to Gyorge, who thanks her for her "existence" in his almost psychotically misguided signoff. I did feel a bit put out though, despite being completely under-qualified and misguided myself. "Have-a-go hero"? I'm seriously trying to crash my way through the set walls of my chosen career here; its thoughtless insults like that that CRUSH PEOPLE'S DREAMS. Had I been a weaker person, I may have broken down and wept. All set to write a withering yet unreadable ranting comment as soon as I finished reading it, I was overjoyed to see that at least three other people shared my exact thoughts. There was no need for me to stick my neck out and yell with popping-out eyes about the “current job market” or neck swivellingly claim that we were all just “trying our best”. Just as well really, as now that I’ve had my breakfast I really don’t care much about it anymore. It just re-affirms my previous beliefs in the calming and self-regulatory effects of tropical V8.

They should hand it out free in newsagents alongside the Daily Mail. #badfeatureidea.

This kind of reception for a misjudged covering letter or previous work portfolio is what, as journalism students a least, we are taught to expect. Nobody really wants you to work for them - you have to bully them into reading your work, stretching open their eyelids and screaming blue bloody murder in their uninterested faces until they admit that perhaps your blood sweat and tears might not be entirely as shit as they thought it was. Wanting to be a writer or more specifically, desperately wanting to be a current affairs and social commentary...commentator during the Current Economic Climate is about as joyful and fulfilling as burying the family dog in wet sand on a rainy bank holiday. We know we’re under-qualified, not very funny and generally immature. We don’t even mind being told this really, as we’re all self-deprecating bad-mouthed losers who thrive off disappointment and insults. What makes this a little more heard to bear is that the writer and prospective employer previously described had to trudge through over 250 emails after leaving her inbox unattended whilst on holiday, and thought I (as a reader of the article) would feel some sort of sympathy over this fact. Fuck off. Even I think posting a job vacancy and then jaunting off on holiday is a little silly – look at what happens to your emails. To then exasperatedly explain to a readership made partly of people who potentially applied to that very same vacancy that it’s such a hard job to have to read all of our pitiful excuses for life experiences, it could make the writer come off as a bit of a cunt. I’m no expert, but maybe you shouldn’t alienate your staff before you’ve even hired them.

Needless to say, I am now screwing up my CV and throwing it in the bin. And then burning it. And then scattering the ashes on my already doomed future career in the media. Maybe that’s a bit too over-the-top. Maybe I should just never work for Emma Rubach.


Richard Vivmeister Hirst said...

I think I might have to thieve the phrase 'as fulfilling and joyful as burying the family dog in wet sand on a rainy bank holiday.'

Katie said...

Use it as much as possible. I want it to be used in common parlance by the time Christmas comes around.

Andy said...

I read the whole article and comments.

Rather frustrating, my initial thoughts are that the suck ups are ones who have applied to work for her, this is backed up by the fact that the ranters tend to either not give their name at all or they have given just their initials, whereas the suck ups all have given their full names.

She comes across as a bit of a gimp and not the sort of person you want to be working for, especially as you'd probably have no 1st person contact with her. I'm giving her the benefit of the doubt that she's coming across worse than she intended do, I'd like to think there are some remains of good will left in the world and that if you met her in person she'd be nicer, but unfortunately that may not happen.

Also, the example she uses about spelling mistakes 'frellance journalist role', is obviously a typing mistake, furthermore Subjects in emails are not spell checked by most email programs.

A simple mistake, especially if the person applying had read her article beforehand, scary, angry person.

Katie said...

It's annoying because I can see what she's attempting, but some people just can't be scathing or sarcastic without it seeming like they're having a personal go at people. I can think of a couple of writers who might havebeen able to pull this kind of an article off, but many people (including myself) just wouldn't have been able to manage it without ending up looking like an arrogant sneering twat.

I saw that "frellance" thing too Andy, and it made me really angry. Yes, it's a stupid mistake to make, but if the rest of the application was fine it was just a genuine typo. We all make typos for christ's sake, I bet even Jon fucking Snow's written OLO instead of LOL once before in his life.

Andy said...


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