I just got a shock. My old University, the LSE, have sent me a couple of old articles I wrote for the University magazine when I was Gen Sec (President) of the Students Union there. One I’d already seen, recording my big claim to fame, when I got to present Mick Jagger with his Honorary SU Presidency (see The Day I Met Mick Jagger blog).
The other was a piece I’d written for the University’s centenary, entitled “A Brave New World”. I’d been asked to predict my view of the Uni in 100 years time. Frankly reading it was depressing; and I don’t just mean because of my dodgy hairstyle in the by-line picture.
I remember being very proud of how clever it all sounded, yet now frankly I find it pompous, boring, unnecessarily using lots of long words and totally devoid of all content and style. Any students out there, here’s a tip. At University they like essays to be structured and clever – have a beginning, middle and an end. Yet in journalism you throw your whole story up-front, with punchy words. Good communication is about getting the message across, without making the reader work to have to understand it. I just wish someone had told me that!