The Cambs Times and Wisbech Standard news editor spoke to students on the college’s one year NCTJ journalism course about the challenges facing the industry and published a summary of his comments in his own blog.
John told HoldtheFrontPage that when he talked to the students about blogging he was met with “a lot of blank faces”.
He said: “They were familiar with some aspects of it. But some journalists are now compelled by their bosses to publish blogs.
“These students are coming into their final few months of their course and I pointed out that they will need to have evidence of their involvement in newspapers and of commitment other than just a CV. They will be competing in an industry which is incredibly competitive.
“I also asked the question of how many of them had ever tipped off a newspaper about a story. Only one girl had.
“I was surprised by their lack of hunger and bite. Over the years I’ve picked out a few young journalists and I’ve always looked for that.”
In his blog, John offered his views on the future working conditions that would-be journalists such as those he spoke to at Harlow will face.
He said: “I do see the future as offering a more precarious career for journalists than before. Not only do we have more legislation to worry about – data protection act, privacy laws, human rights, you name it it’s out there somewhere – but there will be fewer of us doing even more of the work.
“But that aside I think the biggest challenges will come in doing our bit to break down this bloody, secretive world in which we live – whether you end up working in Luton, Leith, London or Los Angeles.
“Our biggest challenge is not having too much information (we surely do have that, the Go East offices in Cambridge, for example, the regional arm of government, have something like 12 press officers, and believe me they will keep you busy!) but discovering the real information that might exactly be what our readers want.”