This is a blog post for the third session of Libraries and Publishing in an Information Society. I am only now writing it because for the majority of last week I was suffering from a cold. The main topics talked about in that session were what it means to be an author and amateur journalism. We discussed an essay written by H.P. Lovecraft on Amateur Journalism. I must confess I am not familiar with this author at all. I understand he is mainly responsible for monster and horror fiction as well as some science fiction. Well, I don’t read horror. Up to this day I have only read one Stephen King novel and I have no intention of reading anymore. But I digress.
The thing that surprised me in that essay (by H.P. Lovecraft) was that amateur journalism was popular enough for conventions to be held on the subject. The first I heard of journalism being done by anybody but professionals was the trend that started a few years ago on my country’s TV channels of allowing citizens to send in their reports of anything happening in their neighbourhoods. Before that, I thought journalism happened because people went to university and got journalism degrees.
Well, the session did not only focus on amateur journalism. We got a guest lecture from Eliza Anyangwe from the Guardian. She talked of the decisions that newspaper companies have to make these days – digital or print? With the proliferation of social networking sites, it is now possible for average citizens to ‘scoop’ the main newspapers in reporting the news that people want to know.
I come from a small country so there are only three daily newspapers. There was a time that my parents bought all the daily newspapers but by the time I grew up we only bought one. Incidentally it is also called the Guardian but qualified The Trinidad Guardian. I visited the British Library yesterday and got to see the Newsroom. I saw microfilm for the first time in my life. There were also displays of the front pages of newspapers going in back in time to the earliest days of newspapers. Well, this shows that people always want news and they do like to get it from trusted sources despite the prevalence of gossip. In fact, Terry Pratchett wrote a novel in his Discworld series about the newspaper industry called “The Truth”. It deals with the advent of the printing press and the development of newspapers. Of course there is magic and fantastical elements in the story but it is really well done. I recommend it.