16/02/2015 06:39 GMT | Updated 15/04/2015 06:59 BST

Journalism in the Age of Sticks and Swill Buckets


Me mourning Sully

We're in the age of swill buckets and sticks. Advertising is not just that thing which has taken over journalism, but which aspiring journalists have taken to. Declaiming their robbed inheritance.

I scripted something along those lines and a whole lot more, all ready to publish here on the Huffington Post. Generally jabbing at how lugubrious people can be in days like these of technological plenty. A time of abundance I wrote, when many see and say the inverse. I liked that wee couplet I'd engineered. "With the tools we have today we've been given a brain extension, handed new arms and a loud voice," wrote I. Then something about being a Bloombergian, indenting this:

"I have nothing in common with people who're always looking at the glass being half full. It is what it is. That was yesterday. What're you going to do about it? There's just tomorrow."

I wrote about how perceived injury, like not being able to buy a house as our antecedents did, is worn with pride. It's advertised. Proclaimed. Then all my finely crafted words disappeared. "And... it's gone!", just like South Park. Chrome crashed. I was crying in the wilderness. It was 5.45 on a Friday afternoon and I should have been in the pub an hour before.

My prose was all on the need for agency and self-actualisation. Movement not misanthropy. That what you believe matters not; the only thing of consequence is what you do. I was writing this in response to the acquired victimhood and and sense of debilitation that afflicts much of Gen Y. Especially today's would-be journalists.

Yes journalism is contracting and yes it's being colonised by the PR-advertising machine; but don't add to the advertising by advertising your woes. Just do it. Journalism was always in difficulty, just like children have always been cheeky.

As though becoming a journalist shouldn't be hard and as if today's aspiring writers were the only ones to be paid nothing for their labours. Fellow Irishman George Bernard Shaw told me a long time ago that wasn't true.

I sought mainly to look at and respond to the abdication of Andrew Sullivan, his earlier advice for young journalists; and also the latest salvo by Ezra Klein and on their wisdom for their could-be heirs.

Then as I stared into an empty text box that had once been overflowing with the lexicon of youth and modern journalism, I was about to close the computer. Then I though I better act as I write and not act the hypocrite.

And so here we are now. Despair over. A sense of normality resumed. Which reminds me, if it were not for the misery of the Monday how could Friday's be so fantastic?

But back to the point. I'd like to look at what Ezra and Felix handed down to us laity but I don't have the time or the cogitative competency at this hour, so I want to finish with the advice procured by Andrew Sullivan in the mid to late 2000s. He said:

"My advice to young journalists is to start your own blog and hone the technique of writing. Write a lot. Keep writing. Look at the people whose writing you admire, do your best. The days in which all of us were blessed with experienced editors training us as writers, cutting out our crap, reifing what talents we had, for good or ill, are gone forever... Above all be fearless."

That's where I'm at. That's what I'm thinking about. Andrew Sullivan, my guide and my mentor, has left the Dish. It's seismic for the world of blogging. What lies ahead? It's a shock still for journalism which remains in a schizophrenic phase. I took a hit confidence wise. Blogging which I do has lost it's leader.

You could be downcast, or you could look at the opportunities. Yes Ezra and Felix are right to counsel, but know this: don't wait to be asked; don't cross your arms; don't ask for permission, just do it. Here's the secret: dogged determination and a resolve to never stop.

A nod to George Orwell for his beautiful phraseology.