Category Archives: Journalism

A rant about landing a mediajob

I’ve talked a lot about work, my work, other people’s work, the importance of work and difficulties of getting work on this blog. And in fear of both repeating myself and sounding very frustrated, which I am to be quite honest, I’m going to talk about challenges of getting media work when you’re blind.

 

First things first. Getting a media job is hard for anybody. The competition is fierce wherever you are in the world and even in supposedly uncorrupt Norway, nepotism rules in the media industry. So it’s not what you know, it’s who you know that is the key to land that lucrative job.

 

I have been trying for quite a while to both work freelance and get a media job here in Norway so that I can make money tow work more freely with my music, although my situation on that front is slowly but surely improving. Working freelance has its own challenges and I’m not going to discuss them in this post, but applying for media jobs is a bit like hitting my head against a brick wall.

Today a journalist is supposed to be able to do everything from writing and sub editing to photographing and creating video content. This is good in one way I guess. Media houses everywhere are cutting costs and thus jobs and it makes sense for them to employ multi-talented people. But the truth is that leaves out some good talent. And not just blind media professionals who are talented on the writing and the audio side of journalism. I have come to understand that just because your eyes work, it’s not synonymous with being good at creating visual content.

 

Ironically, I am quite good when it comes to visual content, because I have an intuitive understanding of what illustration work with what story. And I’m not the only blind media professional who have these skills. However, looking at most media jobs and seeing “Good eyes for pictures” or “Video editing skills” as a description of most of them, I feel like the world is trying to mock me and I take it personal. Most of my sighted journalist friends have to work with visuals in their jobs, even for radio. So the visuals seem unescapable.

 

The really sad thing is that instead of looking at my talent and ask me how to get around the visual challenges; I am just told that I don’t meet all the qualifications. And in some cases, I’ve been told right out that I’d not be able to do the job because of the visual skills required.

 

In Norway there is absolutely no reason not to employ someone on those grounds. Government funded assistance and secretary funds make it possible for a blind person with the appropriate skills to operate efficiently within any media organization. And in England there is Access to work which helps with similar things.

 

I wouldn’t apply for a job as a photo journalist. But I could instruct a work assistant or secretary to film certain things for a documentary or news report and they tell them how to edit it. I would still be the one creating the content. They would just press the buttons of the most likely, inaccessible software for me. Because that’s another thing. only the BBC in my experience have software I can use for audio editing. However, with today’s technology it’s possible to make audio editing programmes screen reader friendly. And in case of getting a job, it could be fixed. At least with some software.

 

My journalist friends in the UK often ask me why I’m not doing more journalism work, since I’m a good a journalist. My only answer is that I haven’t been able to show my talent to someone who matters and that I don’t know the right people. I have made full length radio documentaries, presented live current affairs shows and worked for one of the world’s best mediahouses, so I’ve got to know journalism, a little, right? But these days I’m wondering whether I’m kidding myself that I have journalism talent at all.

 

Again, it boils down to one thing. Attitude. There isn’t something wrong with me, but with the society who produce employers who don’t want to give chances to people who have to work a little bit differently, but who can work just as good and efficient as any of their other employees. I’ve talked about me, myself and I in this post. But I dedicate this rant equally to any visually impaired media professionals who are facing similar challenges. And wonder sometimes whether they do have talents. I don’t blame you if you’ve lost sight of it during your jobsearch. And if you’ve been lucky enough to land the dream job and keep it. Cudos to you and your hopefully liberal thinking employers.

Blindness is NOT an imperfection!

My first single Let’s go party is out! I can’t quite believe it’s happened. But it’s on music blogs all over Nigeria, even Ghana and people have been sharing my video from Norway to England to Australia. It will soon be available on iTunes and other digital platforms, but I’ll announce that when it happens.

This is the least serious of my songs. And what you will hear from me in the future will sound less pop, and more, hmm, serious is not the right word, but never mind. You’ll hear it when it comes. Still, this is my first baby and I’m very proud of it. The song puts me in a good mood and will hopefully do the same to you.

My dream has really come true and this is just the very tip of the iceberg. The only bad thing I feel deserves a mention, is how the music blogs talk about me. Firstly they state my blindness. Fair enough. But then they go on to say that “She has always had a passion for singing and performing despite her imperfection”.

I don’t know about you. But this is both insulting and patronizing. Why, first of all, does blindness have to be called an imperfection? It’s at times an inconvenience, but imperfection?!

And why should I have a passion for singing and performing DESPITE this so called imperfection?
I don’t know if this is a cultural matter. But I do wish that whoever fed the bloggers my bio wouldn’t have added that bit. Or, I wish at least, that the bloggers would have the presence of mind not to include it in the brief. But I blame whoever wrote the brief. It was nasty and hurtful and a stinging insult. It forces me to speak up about blindness and how positive I am, when instead, I would have liked to let my personality and character speak for itself on those matters.

And I believe that the pending interviews and promoting I’ll be doing in the months to come will show people that there is no imperfection and no despite of. And the brief writer’s words will be an empty patronizing echo from the past.

But, I am happy. I am grateful for having the opportunity to work with my music and release it, despite the imperfection of the press brief. (See what I did there?)

In case your sight is as bad as mine, I can tell you that the video is a dance video shot on a boat in Lekki which is a very beachy area of Lagos. In one scene, I’m on a bed, but in the others I’m dancing at a party. I’m mostly sitting down. There are lots of people around. Men and some video chicks. The latter are all over my singing partner Lace. I don’t have that much male attention, but that will change in my next video. I have been assured though that I look very elegant in a black and white short dress and big straw hat.

You can listen and watch here:

Reflections on my decision to become a full time writer

I’ve always known I wanted to be a writer. But never have I felt it so strongly as I’ve done of late. I got two fictional short stories published in the magazine Magnets and ladders. This was awesome for me, because it was the first attempt at publishing my fiction and I was successful.

Some of you may also know that I right for the UK based magazine StyleAble which aims to make fashion, beauty and lifestyle accessible to everybody. And a few days ago, I had a phone meeting with the editor, who is looking to leave her day job and become a full time freelance writer. And the two of us, are currently the only regular contributors and maintainers of StyleAble, and we have some great ideas to make it really grow now we’ll both be able to devote more time to it. But we are also looking at other gigs, such as various magazines, Huffington Post etc.

Establishing a writing career, like we’re planning on doing, is not easy. The writing opportunities may be plenty, but unfortunately most work, at least in the beginning, is unpaid. Now, I’d love to write for everybody and anybody who like my ideas and I’m not in it for the money, but money is a necessity. And getting paid for my work, also serves as encouragement and confirmation that my work is valued so much that someone would pay for me to produce it.

I would say to any buddying writers out there who want to build a freelance career, that at first it is important to take every opportunity that comes along. Free gigs, low-paid gigs and higher paid ones if you can get them. But there comes a time, and I have certainly reached that point, where it’s important to be assertive, strategic and make sure you get paid a fair or good rate for the content your produce.

I’m not saying I’ll never do anything for free again. But I may soon find myself in the difficult situation of turning down good and free opportunities for better paid ones. It’s just hard to know where to draw the lines sometimes.

I am grateful to be working so closely with StyleAble editor Kiesha, who is both more experienced and have more contacts than me. Writing is very much about who you know and I’m glad not to be starting out completely by myself.

StyleAble can be found at http://www.styleable.co.uk
My short story Crossing over at: http://www.magnetsandladders.org/#crossing-over-fictionwzxhzdk28by-linn-martinussen
And my short story The break-up, three perspectives at: http://www.magnetsandladders.org/#the-break-up-three-perspectives-fictionwzxhzdk29by-linn-martinussen

My 2013

During my years in the BBC, I had a colleague who read palms. Upon reading mine one day, she said “I’m surprised you’re not more confused than you are. Your creative and sensible sides are very conflicting with each other.” She is very right, which made me respect her skill. She didn’t know me very well at the time. And my 2013 has been very much like my colleague described me. It has been an extremely happy and uplifting year, but also a painful one. But let me rewind and do this month by month.

January: I fell onto the subway tracks and I survived! I think that was very miraculous. It’s one of Oslo’s busiest stations, and I fell at a time when there was no train coming. As I couldn’t get up because I had fallen backwards, a man jumped down to lift me up and a girl received me at the top of the tracks. Luckily for me, I was on my way to the doctor and feeling slightly hysterical from the fall, I got there with my two rescuers walking me.

Despite being in quite a lot of pain from the fall, I boarded a plane four days later and went to Monaco. I stayed with some Egyptian friends there on the 25th floor of a block of flats and I had the time of my life. Me and my friend who are both singers, held an impromptu concert in a bar in Monte Carlo that had karaoke, and it went down so well that we were asked to come back the next day.

February: I fell again. But this time I fell in love. That can be more dangerous and painful than falling off a subway platform, but it is more fun, those times when it is not agonizing of course. The man is a bright and good looking Ghanaian student, who like me, work for the student radio station in Oslo.

March: I took the radio presenter’s test, which meant that I put together and presented the hour long news and current affairs show on our radio station by me. I passed and I now have an official paper saying I’m a qualified radio presenter. Live radio presenting is something I’ve grown to love more than I thought I would and I do hope I have my own show some day.

March/April: I also did the longest trip of my life so far. I traveled alone to New Zealand to visit a cousin and then on to Australia to visit a friend. I did so much on these two trips that I wouldn’t do them any justice by summing them up in this post. But let me say that I recommend anyone who can you should go there. I hope to go back one day, but preferably with some company because the flights are long. I slept as much as I could and I made some friends on the plane, for the duration of the journey, but still, company would have been nice. And I’d love to share a trip like that with somebody simply because it’s so incredible to be on the other side of the world. I did get to touch both koalas, kanagroos, wallabies, wombats and a kiwi.

April/May: I went to Iceland with my fellow master students. Iceland is also very amazing and we had so much fun walking on volcanos, soaking in natural baths and going out every evening. Of course, this all happened when we weren’t doing something study related, which was quite fun too. Especially because during our trip to RUV, the Icelandic broadcasters, we were shown around by Iceland’s most famous news Anker.

In May I also hosted a party with my partner for the first time ever. It was a Ghanaian party, meaning we served Ghanaian food. I learned never to mix Amarula and wine again!

June: I went to Skagen with one of my closest allies. Or is it called closest friends? No, ally is cooler I think. Skagen is that place in Denmark where you can walk out on the beach and have one foot in the Baltic Sea and one in the North Sea. I was there as a child, but didn’t remember because I was little. The place is magic and when you have a foot in each ocean, you can literally feel the two meet because they strike against each other

July/August: I wrote a teen novel for my niece for her confirmation. The title Vilde Gudenes utvalgte translates as Vilde, chosen by the gods and is about a girl Vilde who enters into the Greek mythological world to help make right a wrong that has been done and which have caused the world of the gods to die out. Writing it was a strange experience in a good way and I felt as if the story lived its own life and that I was just sent by someone to write it down. Writing in Norwegian was difficult for me however, because English has over time become the language I prefer to express myself in when writing unless we’re talking about informal emails and so on, where it doesn’t matter to me which of the two languages I use. But getting reacquainted with writing my mother tongue was also good.

August: I went back to Skagen with my same close ally who I’d gone with in June as well as my other half. That too was a nice trip and we had better weather. Next time I go to Skagen, I hope to swim in the Baltic Sea.

October: I made my first full length radio documentary. It’s entitled Faith as career, and features three people who have incorporated their faith into their life style or career choices. The first one is a girl studying to become a catechist in the Norwegian Lutheran church, the second a guy from a Pentecostal background who is the leader of the Oslo Youth party of a prominent Christian political party. The third person is a Catholic sister of the Dominican order who is also a physicist and who had and is continuing to have, a profound impression on me. The three made for a very good and dynamic documentary for which I’ve had some good feedback.

I also had a splendid girls trip to Copen Hagen. It was crazy, a little Sex and the City style. And yes, I did spend money on a pair of expensive high heels. Italian high heels.

So a good year. But despite all those good things, I have had some painful times too. I don’t want to talk about them in detail, but they have taught me a few lessons. Firstly, that only sadness can show you what really matters in life. Secondly, that people you thought were not that close to you can be of good help. Thirdly, that pain makes you a better person, because it forces you to develop, think and reflect and it makes your appreciate even small moments of happiness a little more. And finally, despite wanting to delete most of the last three months of 2013 from my life, I am in some twisted way grateful that I have experienced the depth of the pain I’ve been in. Because I am still here, I am still laughing and little by little, I remove myself from it all and show myself how incredibly blessed I am to have what’s even more important during sad times than good friends or a partner. A strong personality, psyche and sense of reality. And that’s how I know; I’ll eventually be completely alright again.

I have had over 20.000 hits on my blog all time which is amazing considering how boring my posts have ben of late. I will try to amend that in 2014 and I may even post some of my short fiction from time to time. Thanks though to those of you who have read my ramblings and thanks for still returning. If you are on twitter, why not follow me at @Linn_M21 And if you enjoy my writing, you can read all the articles I have posted on http://www.styleable.co.uk
That is to say different articles than you find here, but probably some of them are on interest to some of my readers. On Twitter I also announce everything I publish. And should you be curious to see what I look like, you will find my picture both on Twitter and Stylable. I may include one on this site too at some point, though so far, I’ve left it as just a thought.

Happy 2014 to all of you and May the entire year be filled with laughter, good madness, and heart stopping moments of joy and peace and harmony.

Happy new year!

My 2012 highlights

Another year of blogging is over and frankly, I was quite surprised when I received a report from WordPress by email letting me know how my blog had done. I never received such a report with my earlier blog which no longer exists, nor with this one last year, so I figured that only the blogs that do well, or get more than a certain number of hits received one. The report told me my blog had 6000 views in 2012 from 99 countries. Americans, Brits and Norwegians are my most avid readers. My most read post was, not surprisingly, my Blindness and dating post which I know is linked to from Action for blind people in the UK. I know, it sounds like a shady porn site, but it is a very innocent organization helping the blind, so I will thank my friend Kiesha for linking it and say sorry at the same time for not having written more for her wonderful magazine at http://www.styleable .co.uk

My year started with a break-up. Those who have read my blog since the beginning may recall me mentioning an Italian boyfriend. I didn’t write about the break-up, because I was the one who ended it and I wanted to respect his feelings. But though we may be over, my love and passion for Italy has, if anything increased. I’ve got a few good Italian friends in Oslo so I get to practice the language, and I was back in Florence where my ex comes from to visit friends I made there. I sincerely hope I get to live at least part of my life in Italy in the future.

In February, I started writing a novel. I won’t say too much about it, but I’ve always wanted to be a novelist and I had all the time in the world to make a start. It was hard. Both because writing well is difficult and because I chose to write in Norwegian. I did this both because I hadn’t written anything except e-mails in Norwegian for the past few years and I wanted to get to grips with my mother tongue again. Also, should the novel be released, it has a bigger chance of selling well in Norway since the market is smaller. And if someone wants to publish it and it sells, I will personally translate it to English. I had to put the first draft aside when I started studying, but I read through it a couple of weeks ago and realized it’s not so bad, so I’ve started the editing job which so far, is going well. It probably will take a while for it to be finished because I also have to start writing my master’s thesis soon, but I will do my best to make my book a priority when I have free time.

In June, I participated in a designer project which was a lot of fun. There were four groups of designers who were going to design something new for someone who had a disability. My group didn’t win, but we designed a professional network where designers could get in touch with disable person in order to make their products user friendly. The design bit itself, was in the website and how we laid out the project. The winning idea, was very similar to our own, almost identical, but we didn’t communicate with the other groups, so that was just random. I worked with people from Norway Germany, and England and it was three hectic days with very little sleep and a lot of fun. Later that month, I went to Florence, which was 95% lovely in every way and 5% “Damn, I wish I had a boyfriend here still so I could move here.”

It was in the summer, that I lost my faith. It happened gradually and it took me a long time to confess it even to myself. As my readers know, I spent a few posts ranting about Christianity and how oppressing it was etc. I haven’t really felt the need to do that since then. I am at peace with not yet having quite arrived at what I believe in although I will always keep values like the golden rule. I doubt I’ll ever get into a religion, but that I will be like many Norwegians, with one foot in the human ethics, and the foot of tradition in the church. I could write page up and page down about what my definition of God is, but it’s still something I’m trying to figure out.

In August, after a boring, very boring, July, I was happy to start university. I still think I chose the right course and I miss seeing my classmates every day now that we’re on a Christmas break. I haven’t failed any subjects. I have also not received the grades I want, but I am thinking it has more to do with how I present things rather than my knowledge of the subject, because I have read everything, and been to all the lectures. I will be improving this in 2013 and I will do very well on my thesis, I’ve decided! Becoming a news reader and reporter with the student radio station, has also been a great experience and I hope to do more for them throughout 2013. I also made some good friends there whom I love working with!

In October, I got my new flat. For the first time ever, I love staying in the house. But without all the visitors and dinners I have served and will keep on serving, it wouldn’t be so exciting. Great to live near the underground and the forest at the same time!

Christmas was nice and filled with family and good food. I got many gifts including a rice cooker, a printer, African jewelry and sweets. But the most wonderful thing this Christmas is that I got my wonderful, handsome, intelligent and beloved friend back into my life. Remember the one who said I was on a slippery slope and whom I wrote a long post about because I was so upset? It’s all behind us now and I’m so happy he’s back. All I need to do now is convince him to want to marry me! 

Tonight, I’m having two highschool friends over. I’ll cook a Thai green curry and we’ll drink some nice wine and probably chit chat all night.

I wish all of my readers a happy new year and I thank you for making me want me to continue blogging by reading and commenting. I especially want to thank Michelle because you got me writing that fictional story about Tony and Jenna. It feels like I know you now. Elisabeth for her precise comments and being my real life friend and reader making it possible for me to get a lot of things done that otherwise would be tricky. And to Bruce. And Bruce, if you read this, please reply and tell me where your new site. I have to admit I haven’t read much blogs this autumn and was puzzled to n I couldn’t find it when I wanted my Bruce fix. You have been great in my time of leaving my Evangelical faith.
And to the readers who are silent, or have commented only a few times, you are equally valuable to me, so thanks to you too.

All in all, 2012 has not been a bad year, although it’s been boring at times with little happening. But moving to Norway is something I’m glad I’ve done and I know 2013 will be quite adventure filled. My first adventure is visiting a friend in Monaco in only 16 days. Bring it on! 2013 starts tomorrow, so I guess I’ll be blogging more soon, in 2013!

I’m still here

I know it’s been a long time since I’ve written anything in here, with everything has been so busy with my studies.

I’m realizing that on Sunday, it’s been a year since I started this blog. A lot has changed in that year. I have returned to Norway, become single, bought a flat, started my master’s degree and made lots of new friends. I have also deconverted from Christianity.

All in all, I have become a lot happier this year, although I’ve had my fair share of down moments.

My classmates are amazing y the way. I was worried what making friends would be like. My experiences from school and then my bachelor’s degree have not been ideal, but when I started this degree, I had some hopes that everyone would be grown up enough to not have any problems with my blindness. And my hopes were fulfilled. I have made great friends from all over the world and I am back to having a social life, again. And not only did I make friends at uni, but I’ve also become a newsreader and reporter for the student radio which is unpaid, but looks good on my CV. I am also making friends within the news team.

I get the keys to my new flat today and I’m very excited to no longer stay with my father. It hasn’t been all bad, but when you’re not used to living at home, it feels a little restrictive to do so at times.

I hope I get time to write more soon, and that my next post is a little bit more interesting, but thought I’d just let y’all know I haven’t abandoned this blog space.

A new Chapter

It was a Monday afternoon in February. I wasn’t feeling great. Not because I was ill, but because that same morning, I had received my exam results from my very first semester at the university. They were bad. Very bad. I had failed 3 out of 4 subjects. “How was this even possible?” I kept asking myself repeatedly. ”I am usually among the top students getting high marks and returning with grade books which made my parents proud.” But, now, I had failed.

As I turned on my phone to check whether I had any messages, I heard a voicemail message from my dad. He was swearing in that terrifying way only he can do and I knew I was in trouble. My exam results had somehow been sent to Norway and now I was dead.

I felt sick for the rest of that day. I spent it either crying, or curled up under my duvet with stomach pain. My life was over. I had to leave the UK, forget university and, and, what? What was I supposed to do? I certainly wasn’t smart enough for university. How stupid I was for thinking that I having gotten good grades all my life meant I could cope well academically abroad. I had proved everyone who had little or no faith in me right. I decided to go back home and give up university.

I did go back home, but I waited seven years. I finished my bachelor, though today I’m not sure how. My failures of the first semester was due to me not having the learning material, a problem I kept facing all through the rest of my degree. But I managed to get some good friends who helped me along. Journalism students in the year above me who spent a lot of time teaching me how to write an essay, giving me inputs from their own great minds and works, helping me before exams. I could not have done it without them and I thank their efforts for me being able to proudly graduate in 2007, after which I went on to work for the BBC.

Not only did I go back home, but I’m now back in a university, something I swore I’d never do after that bachelor I somehow felt and to a degree still feel I didn’t deserve. But here I am. In Oslo my home town, I’ve just started a masters degree. This is big for me and those who have experienced being nervous about everything academic all through their degree, may just appreciate how big.

I still feel as if I’m dreaming and I’m still a little concerned as to whether I’ll do well, but all in all, I have a lot more faith in myself now. For one thing, I’m older. I am doing media studies, a subject I have both prior academic and working knowledge about. I have received computer equipment and e-books which has allowed me to start reading straight away and knowing where I failed before, I have spoken to lecturers to make them aware of the small, but important academic adjustments I need in order for me to be able to study as efficiently as my classmates.

The culture differences between the UK and Norway is also a very important factor here. In the UK, making everything accessible tends to be much more down to the schools and so how smooth your studies are going has a lot to do with how experienced or willing your university is to help.

In the socialist welfare society of Norway, there are other institutions working with the universities to make sure everything is going smoothly. For example, the school provides the syllabus, but the library for the blind produces it. For reading and secretarial help, as well as computer equipment, that’s obtained through the government.

I’m not saying it will all be a smooth game, but I think the combination of my maturity and access to literature and other help not solely depending on the school will make this experience a hell of a lot better.

And who knows, maybe the teenage girl who thought her life was over because she failed loads of exams will one day be a scholar? Besides being a novelist and journalist of course.