2016 was the year I fell out of love with journalism.
Now, that might not seem such a big deal for most people – but for kids who dream of seeing their name in a newspaper by-line, rather than in bright lights outside a theatre, it is a very big deal.
At 12 I was writing for my local parish magazine (well, we all have to start somewhere!), and at 14 I managed to wangle a village correspondent role with a local paper – at a whopping 50 pence a paragraph.
At 16, however, I hit the big time – well, my big time anyway! – with a weekly teen page in a daily regional paper, as well as a news reporting role in a local BBC radio show for teenagers called Livewire.
College courses, traineeships and journalist exams eventually followed and, I have to admit, I absolutely adored the next 20 years in the business – especially the decade spent as a history writer.
But, over the past few years, my enthusiasm for journalism undoubtedly dimmed. While I still loved writing with a passion, I found myself regularly fearing for the safety of my job – and surrounded by those made redundant.
At last, as I looked at a future spent slogging seven days a week for less than the average salary – if, indeed, I was lucky enough to survive each annual jobs cull – I felt my heart break.
I still loved the idea of journalism – just not the grim daily grind in cash-hit times.
So, with a sad heart, I left the business. And now, after a summer spent playing with steam trains at Beamish, I’ve enrolled in a Masters course at Sunderland University that will (hopefully) take me to the so-called dark side… PR.
I’m not sure if, after all these years, my journalistic instincts will ever really fade, but I’m hoping some of my skills can be put to good use in a new career. PLEASE wish an old hack good luck!
* Follow my trials and tribulations at uni through this blog. Will I ever make it in the world of PR, or will journalism drag me back? Who knows…. I certainly don’t!