Right, sit down and roll a fag, you guys. I'm going to do some explaining.
Your criticisms have some legitimacy. But it's more than a little unfair to apply them to me. I've worked my butt off for years to get to the not-very-dizzying heights of where I am now, done stints at small magazines and local papers, lived on less than ten grand a year since leaving university, and most of that is because - privileged Oxbridge graduate though I am - I have no personal contacts and no family links with the media.
There's a huge problem with Gogartyism in the media. I'm not part of it: frankly, I really, really wish I were. I own the privilege I do have, and it's my responsibility to try and raise awareness of the fact that it takes money and privilege as well as talent, guts and determination to get anywhere in journalism these days. But actually, my money and privilege are not such that I'm not seriously worried about the future.
I know people from university whose daddies, mummies and uncles work at big papers, who have walked in to jobs at the Times and the Independent. I was unable to afford the place I was offered on the MA in journalism offered by City University - a standard entry-point to the industry, costing 8,000 per year exclusive of living costs, with no time to work and support yourself - so I settled for a shitty little part-time NCTJ course, and that choice has seriously held me back compared to the people I know who could afford City. Booga-booga personal finger-pointing actually obscures many years of hard work, knockbacks and disappointments because I wasn't lucky enough to have a daddy who worked in the media or a massive personal fortune to draw upon.
And that says a great deal, you know. It says a great big deal that someone with my opportunities - middle-class parents, nice school, Oxford - still isn't privileged enough to walk into a feature-writing job without years of being knocked back and getting up again, a process that, let me assure you, is very much ongoing.
The media is riddled with hypocrisy. I'm not going to argue with you there. Making it in the media today is tough. However clever you are, however brilliant, you have to slog and slog and slog to get noticed, whore yourself out promoting your work, write things you don't want to write for no pay or almost no pay, work long, thankless hours at large papers for free and smile every time they tell you to re-organise their filing system because you know you're lucky even to be there, because you know that behind you there are twenty other people dying for the opportunity to be trodden on in the same way.
So you smile. You grit your teeth. You offer to do more, work more; you hone your technique, you try to write better and faster than anyone else, you hold down shitty shop jobs whilst you're waiting for your break, you despair, you want to give up. And every day, you have to watch people who are less clever and less talented than you getting better jobs, more exposure and more money because they're the ones with the contacts, because they're quiet, inoffensive and pretty (if you're a girl), or because they just got lucky.
And then when you do get there, if you get there, you will be dogged at every stage by people writing in comments threads telling you that you don't deserve the little bit of success you've had - because you're [[under 25/a man/a woman/oxbridge-educated/not posh enough/ugly/beautiful/white/black/Jewish/Muslim -check all that apply]]. People who haven't gone through all this, or who aren't as far along, will resent your success and will look for any and every opportunity to tear you down. Meanwhile, the people above you are holding the door to the next stage firmly shut. If you complain about this, you're bitter, or you're not hard enough to make it in journalism. So, you shut your mouth and carry on working, carry on writing, trying all the while not to give up and bow out to the people with real privilege, because whilst you're exhausted, whilst every part of you is screaming for the day off you haven't had since 2007, you don't want the bastards to win.
That's what you need to do to be a journalist these days. That's the minimum. That's the minimum, from a starting point of having an Oxford degree and some savings. And you tell me that my generation has it easy. For shame. I tell you what doesn't help you get a writing career off the ground, though: making snarky, ill-informed personal comments in blog threads. I've wasted hours on it, and it has helped me not one jot. You want to change the world? Stop making personal attacks and start making a difference.