Interview: Elizabeth Howlett on Journalism, Print vs Digital, and the Free Press

12:00 pm


I went to university with Lilly, or Elizabeth if we're being fancy. We worked together in an archive. I remember meeting her for the first time and thinking, damn, she's cool, I wish I was that cool. She's massively charismatic, has an incredible sense of humour, and works for what she wants wholeheartedly. Naturally, I decided to friend the hell out of her, and it actually happened! We went to a crappy vintage fair together, got matching friend rings, and now have a plethora of ridiculous inside jokes based on Hammer Horror and bad 1950s film magazines. She's now a journalist, which I am ridiculously proud of, and we had a little chat about how she works and what she does on the day-to-day.


Magic & Musings:

Thank you for taking the time to answer some of my questions, Lilly! First of all, for any readers who don’t know your background, tell me a little bit about yourself and what you do. 

When did you first get into journalism? Did you study it formally or come across it as a hobby? If you did study it formally, would you say this was a good or bad experience regarding allowing your creativity to flourish? 

Elizabeth Howlett:
I studied journalism as a joint with film at university because I didn't want to study media. I really hated the idea of journalism and found it intimidating. I found the politics and history of it a challenge, but once I did work experience I realised how useful it can be. I loved going out and speaking to people, and representing their story in a way that made them feel special and appreciated. 

University didn't prepare me for the real line of work. At university you are constantly given feedback and told 'well done' so you feel highly creative and on point. The industry really doesn’t praise you for doing a good job, in fact, people are quick to remind you if you make a mistake. It is good for your creativity because you can chose how you want to represent a story and control the message it sends, however it is a double-edged sword. Sometimes editors will not agree with your interpretation of your story, or the message and you will have to stifle your creative voice to fit with the publication. 

Magic & Musings:
When did you first start sharing your writing and did you have to overcome any self-confidence barriers in order to get to that place? 

Elizabeth Howlett:
I started a film blog years ago on Blogger and it really sucked. It was just me moaning about films. Once I moved onto Wordpress and started to get comments and responses to my posts it gave me heaps of confidence to continue reviewing films online. I couldn’t ever write about myself though, I would find that difficult to take when people criticized it. 

Magic & Musings:
I personally liked reading about you moaning about films!
Where do you stand on the print versus digital front? Is online journalism the way forward? Is print dead?! 

Elizabeth Howlett:
I have just left a print journalism job and am moving to one that is more online-focused. I feel that printed newspapers are definitely feeling the pinch. Advertising dominates the print industry now and it is difficult (especially in trade press) to find a feature that isn't written purely to sell adverts. Online is the new free press because it is difficult to charge, control and advertise against. I'm sure one day, Murdoch will find a way to run an empire online and ruin that free voice, but for now it's brilliant. 

Sometimes the only way to find out about atrocities in the world is online. The only bothersome thing about online news is that anyone can become a journalist overnight and inform the news. That bothers me because three years of education and fees can be wiped out by someone being in the right place at the right time, but nevertheless it is really exciting. 

Magic & Musings:
This is a question I like to ask purely because of the variety of answers I get! I’m really interested in how people work and get things done. Do you have a particular place you work or find yourself the most productive? Are there a particular set of things that need to be in place for things to get done, like a milky cup of tea or a particular album of music you listen to?  

Elizabeth Howlett:
Oh wow. My work routine is awful, like seriously awful. I always tell myself that I will write X amount of words after a coffee or after a cigarette. I wish I could be honest and admit that it will be after three weeks of putting it off. I like to have quiet and ambient music. I find that if I am out, or in a library, I work harder to convince the people around me that I am 'hard at work'. A Studio Ghibli soundtrack mix is the best way to get work done in my opinion. 

Magic & Musings:
The soundtrack to Spirited Away is the ultimate working music.
What do you do if you find yourself stuck in a rut creatively? 

Elizabeth Howlett:
With my blog, I find that I lack motivation to write regularly. I usually watch lots of films, and I mean like five in a day. I read other peoples work and for some mad reason I drink herbal teas and do a facemask because I feel that somehow it will help. It doesn't help. It is just that eventually my mind pushes something through the void. 

Magic & Musings:
What one thing do you wish someone told you when you were first starting out working in this field? 

Elizabeth Howlett:
It is okay to have a vagina. It is okay to be dyslexic. It is okay to be thirsty. It is not okay if you don't drive a car. It is not okay if you do not have 100wpm shorthand. It is not okay to not have experience.  
Magic & Musings:
I approve of all of these messages.
Onto a fun question! Can you recommend everyone reading a book you've enjoyed recently, as well as a film and an album or song?  

Elizabeth Howlett:
The last book that I read and really loved was The Martian. It made me laugh in uncomfortably quiet stations, like on the train. I have been listening to the Guardians of The Galaxy OST and the last film I saw that was really kick-ass was Patriot Games – oldie but a goodie. 

Magic & Musings:
Is there anything else you would like to say before we finish? How can people find out more about you and your work?  

Elizabeth Howlett:
If you for whatever reason think you might want to look at my blog, it is bloggybalboa.wordpress.com
--

Enjoying this series? Want to keep it going? Consider supporting me on Patreon for lots more exciting things in the future. Find out more here.

You Might Also Like

0 comments