What is it really like being a journalist?

There is a wonderful, romantic myth about journalism that persists. It involves well-seasoned (and possibly oiled) reporters sitting around in bars, spending endless hours speaking to contacts in order to ferret out a gem of a story.

It may have been true once (if so, sadly I missed this golden age) but today’s journalists are a different breed. They have deadlines, and lots of them, in fact several a day – one story is never going to sustain today’s news editor.

Few reporters have time to leave their seats to get a cardboard, canteen sandwich, let alone while away the afternoon in a pub building ‘contacts’. In fact they are quite likely to walk past their contacts on a crowded street as they likely only know their faces from grainy social media posts (if at all).

Meanwhile the broadcast reporter, once a king or queen with their camera, sound and editing courtiers, is now a one-person band, lugging their equipment around solo as they chase stories.

While the media has expanded, with more channels, websites, magazines etc than ever, profits have been squeezed. It means that there are fewer journalists, and those there are must produce more than ever.

Up and down the land these reporters battle the odds (and their keyboards) to pound out huge swathes of copy to fill websites, newspapers, radio, TV and magazines.

There are fewer of them and everyone wants them. Where once they had a daily delivery of press releases on thick, headed note paper and calls to field, today their email pings, phone rings, text messages bleep, Facebook messages pop and constant Twitter @ alerts let them know that everyone wants them to look at their story.

What does this mean for businesses? Competition for the time-pressed reporter’s attention is fierce and if you want it, standing out from the crowd is essential.