Why you can’t be bothered with the news

tl;dr The Overtake is a news website for millennials coming later this year, created by people who aren’t straight, white, middle-class, middle-aged people living in London

Do you ever feel like you should be better at keeping up with the news?

I have that feeling too — and I’ve worked as a journalist for more than five years, writing for global publications like the Guardian, BuzzFeed and the i newspaper.

If you’re anything like me, you find it hard to bring yourself to click on articles that you should probably read.

I should try harder to follow the news, you think.

Well actually, the news should try harder to follow you.

Lazy, entitled, self-centred

If you’re aged between 18 and 35, you’re probably used to being called “lazy, “entitled” or “self-centred”. Those words are rarely lobbed at us on an individual basis, rather used as a description of our whole generation. We’re all people who can’t be bothered to vote, who expect to walk into a good job, who care more about selfies than the economy.

“Lazy”, “the worst”, “entitled”

There’s rarely a point in history where older generations have thought favourably about younger generations, but rather than fighting back with art, music and literature (like previous generations have done), we’ve largely allowed those labels to stick. It’s got to the point where even the word “millennial” has such negative connotations that we don’t like to use it. And what’s even worse is that we’ve started believing this negative shit about ourselves.

Perhaps the reason for low voter turnout among our generation is that (arguably, up until recently) party manifestos punished us for existing. Perhaps the reason we expect to walk into a good job us that we thought it was a trade off for working harder, studying longer, taking more exams, and being given less freedom than previous generations.

And the reason we don’t follow the news is because the issues most important to our generation — issues like private landlords, student poverty, the anxiety epidemic (just off the top of my head)— are completely ignored.

What I learned from working in newsrooms

How does this happen? First, you have to remember that newsrooms aren’t stocked with people who represent the diversity of the UK:

  • More than half of journalists were privately educated
  • Only 3% of junior journalists have working class parents
  • 94% of journalists are white
  • Men are promoted faster and occupy the majority of top positions in news organisations— only two of the 11 top national newspaper editors are women
  • More than 98% of journalists are graduates
  • 54% went to Oxbridge
  • 60% work in London or the South East

And because journalism is such a competitive industry, all these measures are getting worse, not better.

So what does this mean for you? It means most of the people making the news have no idea how normal young people live, which has an effect on what gets published.

Issues like exploitative private landlords just don’t affect the majority of journalists working for national news organisations. Many of them are old enough to have bought property before it became too expensive, some grew up in London or the Home Counties and live with family, while some have homes bought for them or have their rent subsidised by their parents. For most of us, it’s already hard enough filling the gap between putting the deposit down on a new flat and getting the deposit back from the old one, for example — but now imagine your landlord is shady af and you never get your deposit back. That’s easily enough to set you up for months worth of stress, overdrafts, payday loans, red bills and dodging phone calls. But for a lot of young journalists, that’s a grand “borrowed” off dad and it’s nbd, forgotten as quickly as it happened.

That’s not to say those working in journalism are not talented. I’ve had the privilege of working with amazing people who absolutely got into journalism to make a difference, but none of them could ever understand what it’s like to grow up on a council estate, like I did.

A voice for normal young people

Anyway, The Overtake is about giving normal young people our voice back. If you’re tired of reading listicles about avocados, xenophobic rants about immigrants, the “he said, he said” of party politics, then you’ve found a new home here.

We promise to be honest, relatable and fun. We’ll try really hard to come up with stuff you’ve never seen before and present it in new and interesting ways.

We’re launching soon — to be honest, finding the funding we need to pay writers is really hard, especially in the North of England, where we’re based. We’ve secured some bits of funding here and there, but it needs to be match-funded, and unfortunately none of us has the Bank of Mum and Dad to turn it into usable cash.

We’ve created this Medium site to prove that this is something people want. We have the skills but you have the real ability to make this happen. Just share anything you find interesting with your friends and we can do the rest!

Here are some free kittens as a thank you.

Kitten chins are 💯
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