Category: Journalism

I wrote this yesterday.

Last day of November. It’s storming outside, the wind is bouncing between the block of flats I live in and the one of the other side of the rail road tracks. It’s hitting windows and scraping tree branches along the walls. Sometimes a train rushes past. I hardly hear them anymore and only notice if it’s a big freight train screaming and whooshing.

London is still grey and it’s getting colder. I’ve spent the day transcribing an interview. I don’t often record the interviews I do anymore, but I’m glad I had this one on tape. There are good quotes that will only work verbatim.

December is falling into place and it makes me happy. I’ve started scheduling things and it’s a relief to know what will happen when instead of staring down a huge pile of stuff that just has to be done at some point. I think the most stressful part of being a journalist is the period before a story comes together, before I’ve started booking the interviews, when everything is still an idea. As soon as I know who I’m going to speak to and when I start relaxing, then I know it’s possible.

I’m starting to realise it’s the same with creative writing. I’ve come up with a new system. I need to know exactly what happens, from every characters’ point of view, throughout the whole book. The more I know the more precise I can be when I’m telling the story. In my previous attempts at writing creatively I’ve always been rushing, trying to get the story out as quickly as possible, because otherwise I fear I might lose it somewhere along the way (and I often do lose it somewhere along the way). But if I instead write it out quickly, in a not very coherent fashion, using plenty of clichés and a multitude of other literary sins, it already exists and all I need to do is slowly, carefully craft it into something that sounds good. Now that I’ve realised this one thing putting a book together seems more possible too.

Photo by Samuel Zeller.

Journalism Thoughts Writing

– London is frosty and sunny and this morning was the coldest we’ve had this year so far. The sky was pale blue and a chilly pink that reminds me of home. Last night when we drove home the sun set over the city and the top floors of the houses in Dalston were glowing orange. The Smiths played on the stereo and all those thoughts that had been buzzing around in my head stopped. I landed right in the moment, listening to Johnny Marr playing the guitar, thinking this is all so nice. Those things you thought were cool when you were fifteen stay with you.

– I’ve started a new job. I’m freelancing for Swedish daily Svenska Dagbladet. It’s exciting. After about a year of not doing much journalism I’m back into the swing of things, booking interviews, reading papers, writing long lists of stories I’d like to do.

– I’m also trying to finish a project I’ve been working on since the autumn. At the moment I can’t say much more about it, but what I can say is that I’m slightly behind. I should be writing around 2000 words per day to stay on target. That is quite a lot. But I’ve been writing and writing during every spare minute I have and I’m finding that staying with a story this way is really quite good. All the characters are clear in my head, I know what I’m doing and where I’m going… most of the time at least.

– I’ve been writing a lot in Swedish lately.

– I keep coming up with strange new project ideas (for that one day when I have some down time) like writing short pieces based on London’s many ghost stories, that could also double up as a guide to the city. This does make sense in my head.

Image by Rebecca Johnston.

Everyday life Journalism Writing

Hello,
I ran across you article about moving to London via Pinterest. I am facinated about your journey. I harbour a deep passion for photography and journalism, so it is easy to see why I was intrigued. I have always wanted to travel, and recently I have been considering trying out London life. However, I am from a small town in Kentucky, USA with no social circle. None of my family or friends have stayed abroad, or out of Kentucky for that matter. Unfortunately, I do not have a college degree either. That has not ruined my dreams of travel though! So I guess my question to you is: how were you able to successfully establish yourself in a new place?
Also, I was wondering how much money would be wise to save up before moving?

Good to hear from you! I’m from a small town as well and had no friends or family in London when I moved here. It was slightly easier for me to move to the UK than it will be for someone from the States though, because I didn’t have to go through the process of getting a visa. If that had been the case I’m not sure if I would be in the UK right now. In the past I’ve sometimes thought about moving to New York, but because I’ve felt more strongly about trying to make it as a freelance journalist and writer, I decided I didn’t want to start jumping through lots of hoops in order to try to get a visa.

I was able to establish myself as a freelance journalist in London because I had already worked as a journalist in Finland for about five years (on and off) and two years full time. This had allowed me to get a few contacts in the industry who trusted me and wanted to buy my stories. I knew the organisation I worked for in Finland didn’t have a stringer in London. When my contract with them ended I came here thinking I would try it out for a few months, seeing if I could make a living from freelancing.

It wasn’t easy then and it still isn’t easy. I’m constantly adapting in order to keep doing it. In some ways freelancing is becoming more and more difficult. Media organisations no longer have the money they had in the past and because a lot of journalists have been laid off as these organisations are trying to cut costs there is a constant stream of new people competing for freelance work.

Having said that there are also more opportunities out there. There is self-publishing, blogging, podcasting – getting an audience and finding ways to earn money online. I’m not just doing freelance journalism anymore, I blog (mainly because I like it, but also to build some kind of profile), I help my husband with his company doing everything from website coding to PR to selling direct to customers at markets and I also I write for a company who runs events for people in the tech and music industry. So even though I started out just doing freelance journalism, I’ve since had to diversify and I think that’s been the case for other freelancers.

What I’m trying to do now is to focus more on creative writing, which is taking a lot of time from my other projects. Because of that I’m not feeling totally established in London anymore… but I’m still here. I guess what I’m trying to say is that it’s not easy, but if you have a clear goal and keep working towards it you will eventually get to where you want to be. If that goal is to, for example, move to a new city and start working in the media industry – write that goal down and then break the journey into several stages. What is the first step you need to take? And then the one after that? Slowly, step by step, you will get to where you want to be.

When it comes to how much money you’ll have to save before you move somewhere new, that totally depends on the place you move to and what kind of work you’ll be looking for. At least three or four months worth of rent + expenses would be a good start.

Good luck with your plans!
Lotta

Image by Luis Llerena.

Journalism London The moving to London collection

We’re in Scotland, in Gerry’s granny’s house. Gerry’s sleeping next to me. We’re both exhausted. These last few days have passed in a manic flurry. I can’t believe it’s only a couple of days since we arrived here. We drove up from the south, stayed a night at Gerry’s granny’s place, travelled up to Inverness at five in the morning the next day, did interviews the whole day, travelled even further north and stayed in a haunted castle. The day after we headed back south, stayed with friends in Glasgow. And today we’re back here, tomorrow we go back south again.

It’s been a whirlwind tour with too little sleep and a lot of travelling. But then again that’s what a good freelance trip is all about. I like cramming as much as possible into a few days, living and breathing a story. I feel like I have a lot of good interviews and good background material. But I don’t want to jinx it by thinking I’ve done well, because I know everything comes together when I sit down to edit and write.

I like it up here. I’ve remembered why I like Scotland so much. The Highlands fill me with a sense of awe. It hits me in the gut every time I go up there. The colours are more vivid somehow. The sky is a clear blue that I’ve not seen anywhere else. There are bleak, snow-capped hills, dark forests and the light and cloudscape seems to change on an hourly basis. It’s like no where else and it’s gorgeous.

Next time I hope we can stay longer. Next time I want to allow things to sink in before we leave.

Journalism Travel

I’ve done a lot today. It’s somewhat surprising because I’ve felt like someone has kept pressing the slow motion button ever since we came back to London last week. But today I’ve written posts for 4.5, worked on a new website for Gerry and finally tackled the new book that has been stewing in the drawer since November. I feel positively virtuous.

The only thing I need to do and haven’t done is come up with some news stories to pitch. I’ve been trawling through the British websites without any luck. Yesterday the BBC seemed to mainly be reporting on the Golden Globes and Ariel Sharon’s funeral. Not much for me to work with there. But if there’s something I’ve learned during my almost five years of freelancing it’s that the stories will come. When it feels like nothing will happen something big will pop up out of the blue. And if anyone has any suggestions for interesting stories. Let me know.

Until then I’m going to keep reading the papers, bingeing on Agatha Christie murder mysteries and working away on the book.

I’ve also noticed that a lot of people find this blog by googling how to move to London. If there is anything you’d like to know about the city don’t hesitate to ask!

Everyday life Journalism

These are some things I've been thinking about lately.

When there is so much information out there, so many different kind of news media online, so many bloggers, citizen journalists and people happy to share their opinions with an audience, how do journalists stay relevant?

As I see it the job means finding stories that haven’t been told, stories that interest people, and then sharing them with an audience.

Today a lot of the news out there is just reverberating between different broadcasters. So how do we stay relevant? How do we justify adding yet another voice to an already really crowded space?

I’d be really interested in hearing your thoughts on this.

Journalism Thoughts

Gerry and I spotted these cuties on the way to work today

Yesterday I travelled to the sea, but didn’t see much of it. Instead I was soaked by drizzly rain, the battery on my phone ran out (as it seems to do if I as much as look at the instagram icon on the screen). For some strange reason I’d dressed for Finnish November and wasn’t prepared for a mild, grey afternoon at the seaside. I also got lost. But it was a pretty nice day.

I went to Folkestone to do a story about cultural regeneration and met some really nice people. Then I came home. Then I went to a music event in the evening.

This morning I slept in. Felt a bit bad about it. Then told myself I’d been working all of the weekend and needed a short brake. On Saturday I did all my taxes (the floor in the guest room is still a mess of paper). On Sunday I helped Gerry out at a market, did a radio story and then I did something else I’m sure, but I can’t remember anymore.

I think time is speeding up, rushing toward Christmas. It’s exciting and terrifying, kind of like before the big slope at the end of a roller-coaster (not that I’ve been on one since I was 10).

And also today the Kickstarter was funded! It’s been an emotional process. Not exactly stress-free. But we finally made it. If you ever need advice about a Kickstarter campaign, I will have plenty of stuff to tell you. It’s not as easy as it looks.

Everyday life Journalism Travel

On Saturday I took the train down to Balcombe to do a reportage about the protests against fracking in the area. At the weekend 2000 protesters started congregating on a campsite about a mile from the village. Several people were camping along the road leading to the campsite. They’d all come there to stop what they called one of the worst threats to our environment today.

fracking2

I got slightly lost on the narrow rural lanes.

fracking3

Luckily I spotted some police and knew I was on the right track.

fracking4

The protestors were all very polite and media savvy. After having chatted to them I walked back to Balcombe to talk to some locals. You can’t find many places which seem more like a typical sleepy English village. The town centre had a tearoom, a pub, a hairdresser and a corner shop. That seemed to be pretty much it.

fracking5

Most locals didn’t want to talk. They seemed to be tired of both media and activists. “I support fracking now” one woman said when I asked her what she thought. Although some townspeople were clearly against fracking and thought the demonstrators were doing a good thing supporting the village.

All in all it was an interesting day. I love getting out and about talking to people, seeing things for myself.

fracking6

Journalism

Phew. What day is it? What year is it? Who's the president!?

These last ten days have gone by in a blur. In some ways I really enjoy work-manic periods when the only thing that matters is how to get the story filed or the boxes moved from the transit van to the festival. My normal churn of thoughts stop and the only thing I can think about is the next couple of hours. It’s almost zen in a way. And then again it’s not. It’s exhausting. Which is why Gerry and I even managed to take two whole days off.

Monday was spent in a kind of jet-lagged haze drinking carrot juice and watching Mythbusters. Yesterday… I can’t even remember what I did yesterday. Oh yes, the in-laws arrived and we went to a rooftop pop-up restaurant in Hoxton.

On Saturday and Sunday Gerry and I spent all of our time at the Open East Festival in Stratford. We got there at eight in the morning, set up the stand and then spent the next fifteen hours selling t-shirts and prints.

open east

There was an inflated bouncy castle Stonehenge, I only had time to see it when it was still deflated. We saw lats of people walking out of the site on brand new crutches.

open east

A huge thunderstorm swept over us on Saturday night. I’ve never seen so much lightning in my life. Slightly disconcerting when you’re basically standing in a field under a tent with a substantial amount of metal holding it up.

horse

And saw the horse from the War Horse production. Pretty amazing stuff. It looked and sounded like a real horse.

breakfast

On Monday we took the transit van back and had a massive breakfast at Long White Cloud on Hackney road.

tired feet

Went home, put our feet up and watched lots of Mythbusters.

Everyday life Journalism Plane Clothing

No more waiting then. The madness has begun. I’ve already filed four stories today and there’s one more live piece to do before I can sign off for the day.

This morning I rushed down to St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington and made my way to the Lindo Wing (I keep wanting to write Lido Wing!), where the royal couple and their baby were chilling in their £6 265 suit.

Outside the media circus was already in full flow. There were several foreign journos and a handful of tired looking people wearing Union Jacks who’d been camping out during the last couple of days. I did my interviews, took some photos and rushed back to the studio to edit, edit, edit. And phew, now I’m done.

royal-baby-3

royal-baby-2

I’m too tried to write much more, but here are some royal baby facts!

  • By custom, earlier royal births were witnessed by the interior minister, in order to ensure that the heir was legitimate. This tradition ended in 1936.
  • It’s the Middleton’s first grand-child (they’ve not been mentioned very often in this story)
  • You can place your bets on everything from the baby’s name to what its hair colour will be. The bookmakers’ favourite names are Alexandra for a girl and George for a boy.
  • Former Australian prime minister Julia Gillard has knitted a kangaroo for the baby.
  • David Beckham has suggested that the royal couple should name their baby after him. “I think they should go for David,” he said in an interview this week, adding: “If it’s a boy.”
  • 25 000 tweets a minute were sent after the birth was announced.
  • Anti-royalist organisation Republic has gained over a hundred new memebers in the last 24 hours.

(some facts via discovery)

Also BBC’s Simon McCoy is my favourite news presenter.

And finally 25 things way more exciting than the royal baby.

Journalism London