Q&A with freelance journalist, Jamie Carter (TravGear.com)
Jamie is a freelance travel & technology journalist based in Cardiff. Although he started his journalistic career in Cardiff in 1997, he had to move to London in order to further his career. However, having made lots of contacts in the UK and around the world, he was able to move back to Cardiff in 2007 to work purely as a freelance journalist.
He presently works for newspapers in the UK and China, various Bristol-based magazines and dozens of websites. He runs a website developed purely through a NUJ Training Wales course (TravGear.com) and is currently writing a book on stargazing (using the Brecon Beacons as a base).
How do you feel the media landscape has changed in Wales?
Journalists in Wales, and especially in Cardiff, desperately need continued investment and training for the good of the nation. Although I’ve worked as a journalist in Wales for over a decade in total, it’s been a long time since I worked in the media industry in Cardiff. This is purely because there are very few media jobs available, and it would appear to be a shrinking industry. I know many journalists, well-trained and otherwise, who have recently left for London. Personally, I think the state of the media industry in Wales is a direct threat to any claims of nationhood. A country without a thriving media industry is not a country at all … even Bristol has a better media industry.
Which NUJ Training Wales course(s) have you attended?
- Writing for the Web
- How to create your own website
- Day 1 of Shoot/Edit with an iPhone
- Day 2 of Shoot/Edit with an iPhone
Why did you choose those particular NUJ Training Wales course(s)?
Writing for the Web:
With website writing now dominating most journalism, this two-day course was a must-do for me. It was a particularly practical course. It skilfully dissects some very commonly used techniques by websites to gain the attention of potential readers. It took the ‘dark art’ of writing for, and pitching ideas to, websites, and broke down the planning, writing & marketing tasks into bite-size concepts. I left with a head full of ideas, some of which I’ve had success with, and other that I’m still working through.
How to build your own website:
Since most of my journalistic work has shifted from print to online in the last five years, building my own website became a natural ambition. However, I completely lacked any confidence in my own ability to do so. This two-day workshop changed all that. Starting a new website is incredibly demanding of both time, effort and enthusiasm. The tutor explained how to use WordPress to quickly design a basic website, which I have used as a basis for a successful, professional endeavour of my own. The advice this course also gave me on promoting posts on social media proved critical to its success.
Day 1 & 2 of Shoot/Edit with an iPhone:
The web is moving increasingly from print to video, so learning how to make that leap in just a short two-day course is already proving invaluable. This is a particularly forward-thinking course – there are very few around in UK (and they are mostly in London), and those that do exist cost far more than most journalists can afford, particularly if they are working in Wales for much lower wages than in London.
Not only did I become much more familiar with my iPhone’s incredible abilities as a reporting tool, but I also got an insight into how broadcast journalists put together their packages. This is going to be really useful to me as I plan to produce video reviews for my own website.
What value has the training continued to bring to you… months or years on from doing the courses?
Writing for the Web: This course immediately got me brainstorming brand-new ideas for articles, features and treatments for websites I had not pitched ideas to before. I am now able to pitch better, tighter, and more relevant ideas to commissioning editors across the world – and my workflow and income have definitely increased since doing this course. It’s also helped make my own website, TravGear.com, a success.
How to create your own website: Since completing a dummy website during this short course in March 2014, TravGear.com went live almost immediately and is now a successful website. After just a few months it had 10,000 visitors each month.
Day 1 & 2 of Shoot/Edit with an iPhone: Although I’ve only just completed this course, I am already busy concocting a plan to convert my website from plain text to educational video reviews; this is the future of the web, and it’s important journalists in Wales take part.