Jo Ind is a writer and has worked in print journalism, publishing and digital media. Her fascination with the industry began with a tour of BBC Birmingham as a little girl. “I loved the energy, I still love that bit in a TV studio when it goes live”. However, becoming a journalist didn’t really occur to her until she’d finished her degree in English and Philosophy, because she didn't read newspapers. Then she met a woman who was a television journalist, who told her "A journalist isn't just someone who writes for a newspaper. It's someone who communicates via the media.""When she put it like that I felt a thrill go through me. It was like falling in love. I was literally sleepless with excitement thinking: "That's what I want to do, that's what I want to do." It was that word "communicate" that got to me. I wanted to be a communicator”.
A post graduate diploma in journalism followed, and a job on the Birmingham Post began a long career on newspapers. The years working her way up from trainee reporter to women’s editor to special correspondent taught Jo many skills that she still values, especially an ability to talk to anyone. She says that all of life is the subject of local journalism, and loves the variety.
I asked whether the newsrooms lived up to their macho reputation. “Oh, completely, it was blatantly sexist”, she replies with a wry smile, “but at least it wasn’t hidden, you knew what you were dealing with”. It has got a lot better now, apparently.
Jo says that her major concern in life is to be truthful, and does think that this connects partly with her faith. She wasn’t from a visibly Christian family, “although I later discovered priests go back seven generations, so there is some heritage there!” Jo thinks her faith has been manifested at work in a desire to be a good colleague, not to lie and cheat and steal. Newsrooms are a good location for character formation “because you don’t get to choose who you work with”. She also finds that when doing her own writing, as opposed to writing news, it is “indistinguishable from prayer”. Jo believes it’s an important thing that the world was created through words, ‘in the beginning’, and feels that crafting through words is to take part in creation. Writing profile pieces can be an act of service too, seeking to tell the story of another faithfully, giving them your full attention.
Jo is fascinated by social media, and moved after twenty years on newspapers into a new job with Maverick Television making a website for the NHS in the West Midlands that helps the public explore health issues. She believes that the world has become, and will continue to become, more public, and that this ‘publicness’ is generally a good thing. For one thing, publicness makes accountability easier and breaks down barriers. She quotes Jeff Jarvis, who says “Living in public today is a matter of englighted self-interest. You have to be public to be found. Every time you decide not to make something public, you create the risk of [someone] not finding you or not trusting you because you're keeping secrets. The more public you are, the easier you can be found, the more opportunities you have.”
Jo has seen how easy it is to create dialogue and community using social media and is fascinated by how things will deveop. Like many journalists the rapid change in both her role and the place of journalism in the public space hasn’t been comfortable. The loss of a traditional monopoly on providing information, as well as a sense of identity has been painful for many, including those in this network. However, Jo has freely chosen to step out of 'mainstream media' because of an excitement about new forms of communication. The world of digital and social media seems to need skilled people to facilitate these important conversations, and it is full of exciting potential. And that is an inspiration to us all.
You can find more about Jo here. http://joind.co.uk/