I received an email on Friday evening from somebody at the Guardian, a response that I had been waiting so long for, I actually forgot about ever receiving a reply. It did get me very excited and made me think of how wonderful it would be to work at a fashion desk. The dream of many young females when they begin to have the first urge to be a journalist, is to be a fashion journo. Admittedly, this is a huge assumption, but one that has some foundation in truth, but I digress.
Fashion Journalism is a phrase that throws up many stereotypes: high heels, air kisses and the constant ‘oh dahling!’ I then began to think of all the desks you could ever find at a publication and all the amazing correspondents and big editors to be found across a variety of reporting areas. At the BBC you have Stephanie Flanders, the economics editor and Robert Peston the business editor, each heavyweights in their respective sectors. Then at a newspaper – the sports desk, the features desk, the news desk of course. Every subject you could think of has a hot-shot journo covering it – technology editor, media editor, political editor – and subsequently thousands of students dying to cover them. These topics are the big tickets. Yet there is a subject that despite being so important to the future of our nations, does not get the same journalistic profile as economics, sport, business, technology or even entertainment. Why is the profile of the education journalist virtually non-existent in this country?
The fashion journalist. The sports editor. The war correspondent Each of these is synonymous with at least one human face. Anna Wintour, Jake Humphrey, and Martha Gellhorn to name but a few. So why is it so hard to name any education journalsits that have the same profile as these individuals and reporters with equal gravitas who are found in other news areas, such as economics, politics and technology?
Maybe this is symptomatic of a deep-seated problem within this country and its attitude towards education in general. Instead of giving school lessons that arm youngsters with applicable life skills and encourage real scholarly debate, we just have rows about a two tier system (without a resolution ever being reached), striking teachers and give too much airtime to wars, entertainment/celebrity and calling for independent inquiries into anything and everything. The neglect shown towards education issues (not the same old ones churned out on the news) is that shown to education journalists in the UK. Type into Google financial journalism, sports journalism or fashion journalism and you will see relevant results and dedicated pages with advice on breaking into these sectors. Do the same with education journalism, and you will see a list of institutions in which to study journalism or reader questions on how much education one needs to be a journalist. No such help pages for wannabe education journos.
Maybe education journalism will never attain the same status as other types of reportage, but hopefully there others out there interested in flying the flag for this crucial part of journalism and look to continue the work of Reeta Chakrabarti and seek the truth as the late Mike Baker did. If you are out there, do not give up.