Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Ten years before the masthead

This week marks my 10th anniversary as a working journalist. In the first week of January 1997, I began work as a lowly production assistant (soon after, reporter) at the Belgravia offices of Chemistry & Industry magazine. I'd completed my journalism training in early summer '96, but after spending the summer travelling Europe, it took a few months to find a job.

Wisest move since then was getting out of London, for a better-paying job back up north. Given the gross regional imbalance of the British media industry, that was no mean feat - and definitely the best move in terms of quality of life, especially once I made a second hop from Manchester back to Yorkshire.

Not the wisest move, from a career progression point of view, was joining an internet start-up aimed at the hi-tech VC market in March 2000. Still, it was fun while it lasted - and having an inside view on the bubble and burst meant becoming a dotcom casualty later that year wasn't exactly unexpected. That also laid the ground for a lot of the freelance work I've been doing since.

As a freelance, I've got myself a good niche in venture capital, particularly with regards to technology and state intervention. It's pretty rewarding intellectually and, when the work's coming steadily, financially (getting near a grand a day for quick editing work on behalf of a big investment house has definitely been a highlight). The odd commission from Nature and Financial Times have added some impressive heft to the CV, and allowed me to answer the usual party question 'So who do you write for, then?' with something that won't send them off in a daze. And being flexible enough to spend time on some non-commercial work for Fortean Times, Strange Attractor Journal, et al has been personally satisfying - and I'll always be proud of my occasional billing as Gentleman Cosmologist in Bizarre.

2007 might see some changes. For the past couple of years, I've been studying part-time for a Master's degree in Economics and Finance at the University of Sheffield. That finishes this summer, with a dissertation on a topic which will not be too far from some of the issues raised in this blog or in my work elsewhere. That, perhaps, may lead to other things. Watch this space.



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