Writing for a living

I've been looking around recently for a second, writing related job. It may surprise you to know, dear reader, that my daily grind does not include anything writing-related; I work for a very boring distribution company, and the kind of work I do involves anything from graphic design to database administration.

Writing has always been my first love, and I made a big mistake when I chose to do something other than writing in college. I did science, and then computer programming, and it got me nowhere. These days I think about returning to study journalism, but what can those courses teach me that I haven't already learned? The art of writing well is 10% talent and 90% practice and hard work, and little enough of either can be taught.

I like the idea of journalism as a career. There's skill in writing an interesting yet balanced article on current events, or conducting an interview and asking the questions you think your readers want answered. Unfortunately, I can't seem to turn up any information on writing for the local papers - for example, a quick google search for "writing for the Irish Times" lists a link to their contact page where people can send in letters to the paper as the first result. I can't find a single mention of careers for either the physical paper or the website.

I've been questioning the quality of Irish news media for a while now. Case in point: a friend of mine was interviewed by the Times over the phone, and his story (a day in the life style of thing) was written up and put on the site. If I remember right, it'll also go into the lifestyle section of the paper itself. But the article, good grief... I expect a journalist to be able to write without making obvious grammatical errors. It's clunky in places, the phrasing and word usage is in dire need of an editor, and it reads badly all over.

It reads like something that was thrown together without editorial oversight, in fact. I have read the Times on occasion, and its usual standard of writing is better than what I see there. I hope that the author will rewrite it for clarity and flow before the paper itself goes to print.

Anyway... I do know the interviewee in question here. Aidan had much to say about the story, and very little of it was flattering. There was a suggestion that some of the things in it were stretching the truth a lot, or - shall we say - there were certain liberties taken with the facts at hand. I have to wonder why, though. He works at a wildlife park filled with exotic animals; surely that's interesting enough without embellishment?

If anyone from the Irish Times is reading this: email me. Talk to me about journalism. I'll happily be a writer for hire, and I can guarantee I'll do a better job.