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The most accurate predictions about journalism in 2008

Looking back at my 2007


1 January, 2008

End-of-the-year meme about 2007, lifted from Jackie:

1. What did you do in 2007 that you’d never done before? Put together a live blogging team, and hey, it was fun, would love to do it again...

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year? By and large. The two most important being moving back into journalism full-time - while trying to hedge against the financially volatile existence of being a full-time freelance journalist, I had allowed my business model to get a bit too diverse and I found myself called upon to be an expert in too many different worlds. Besides, as it turned out, my non-media clients were neither more predictable nor better payers than my media clients – and creating space to nurture contemplation and solitude from time to time to recharge my creative batteries.

As for this year's new year resolutions I have a few, but am a bit reluctant to jinx them by talking about them here and now. One is getting more wired though, or rather stop being a lurker in places like Linkedin, Facebook etc - though due to time considerations I'll keep those networks media-related and semi-professional.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth? No

4. Did anyone close to you die? Yes, but though it is sad for those left behind, when people grow old, ill and weary of life, death can also be a blessing.

5. What countries did you visit? Would you believe: I lived in England for many years yet never found time to visit Ireland, but finally managed to go there in 2007. It was very different from what I'd imagined: it had an almost Latin/ Mediterranean feel to it. I also spent quality time in various parts of my 2nd home country, England, and gave a presentation in Stockholm. I'd love to travel much more in 2008 though...

6. What would you like to have in 2008 that you lacked in 2007? More confidence and financial stability. I'm a bit of a change addict, but I'm more and more seeing the value in not going charging into new territory all the time...

7. What dates from 2007 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? Sunday 8 April, when my great aunt and first mentor died. Wednesday 8 August: holding the car for an important interview, then jetting off to spend time at my grandmother's deathbed, hoping it was not too late. It wasn't, but I left late in the evening to get some sleep. She died just after midnight, my aunt by her side, but in a way I think that ultimately was for the better: a strong, proud woman, she found it difficult to let her grandchildren to see her so weak. I forget when I was informed of her death, but I got up in a state of limbo and wrote up that interview - but then I'm always like that: it takes time for such events to sink in, and in the meantime I'm quite adept at sorting out practical stuff, writing obits and reading the funeral tributes.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? Getting thru April when I feared a late or non-paying, I didn't know which yet, client would bankrupt me, then writing the affair off when it became apparent I'd get less than half of the agreed fee in May, as I felt my focus was better spent on the fun opportunities around me.

9. What was your biggest failure? Realising too late the mistake of taking on that client. As self-employed I try to balance assignments that pay in the short- term against more long-term ones, but realised too late I'd taken on a long-term assignment, that would take me down a road I didn't want to go, at the expense of long-term assignments I loved that would have been much more relevant to my professional aims. But at least I learned a few things about myself and the importance of trusting my gut feeling.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury? Only the odd spell of flu, and my back went on strike after an intensive workout coupled with two days on a plastic chair in Stockholm and an exasperating 8hr coach journey back to Oslo.

11. What was the best thing you bought? Time on my own, checking into a hotel to write etc, and time with near and dear ones

12. Whose behaviour merited celebration? Those folks who quickly and expertly jumped down on the rail track, arguable not as dangerous in Oslo as in London as the electrical circuits are better insulated, to pull up a junkie who fell off the platform, saving him from being run over by the underground train.

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed? Telecoms companies, such as Vodaphone and Netcom, who tried their best to shift the blame on me as a customer when they had technical problems, like the two times Netcom's UMTS network was down and the customer representatives wasted my time trying to make me reinstall my PC or change my settings rather than identifying straight away that their entire network was down.

14. Where did most of your money go? Taxes, bills and travel

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? Getting back on the lecturing scene, a trend I started late autumn 2006 with Visit Britain International and will continue in 2008; an offer to write a book I didn't find the time to do much with (yet?) and news of another volume of Ethical Space, where I'm a regular contributor, being published as a book in 2008.

16. What song will always remind you of 2007? Blackfield: "End of the world"

17. Compared to this time last year, are you: a) happier or sadder? b) thinner or fatter? c) richer or poorer? Everything's a bit up in the air really, there were many transitions in 2007: it was a year where endings and beginnings, sorrow and joy, financial challenges and professional acclaim seemed to walk hand in hand. As a result I don't know quite how I feel. I'm healthier at the start of 2008 than what I was at the start of 2007 - when I'd oscillated between a punishing work and exercise schedule followed by longish periods of illness where I 'only' worked full-time - though not thinner. As for money, ask my accountant later in the year (ugh, gotta go thru those receipts, invoices and stuff this month).

18. What do you wish you’d done more of? Spend more quality time on my own, and more quality time with friends and loved ones, finding time to be more present in the lives of loved ones.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of? Worrying, procrastinating, chasing late payers.

20. How did you spend Christmas? With my parents and little sister in a small coastal town I've got strong ties to. When I finished work this year I thought to myself that phew, that was a tough year, but hey, I'm still standing. I didn't fully realise how tired I was until I joined my family for the holidays. I was served some brilliant food, went for a good walk or two by the ocean, stared out of the window while trying, and mostly failing, to write, and slept A LOT.

21. Did you fall in love in 2007? No, thank goodness, though I've been blessed with a lot of love in my life, love can be such a demanding task master.

22. What was your favourite TV program? I didn't have a TV until my landlady, and close friend, moved back from the west-country and plugged in my old one, but that didn't change much. I'll try to watch a bit more now that Brennpunkt – an investigative documentary programme I've worked for - is back on the screen, we'll start seeing the results of this documentary experiment and a friend is hitting the screen to present a programme I hope to learn more about later this week...

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year? I'd rather not waste my energy on negative stuff, the opposite of love is not hate but ignorance. If a person crosses too many bridges he or she shouldn't have, I'd rather forget about him or her (it's very rare that I 'exorcise' people from my life though, I think I can count them on one hand, but then, it's not someting I find it too important to keep stock of)

24. What was the best book you read? I read so many books I forget. "I, Coriander" was one of my big time favourites, even though it's a children's book. The Invitation, I only discovered this year that it's also a book - not only a poem. David Weinberger's latest book was another favourite that I'm still digesting.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery? Reassembling my stereo system, which had been in storage at my grandmother's for years.

26. What did you want and get? Improving my business model so I could write about media full-time

27. What did you want and not get? That worktrip to Washington DC

28. What was your favourite film of this year? Foreign Correspondent, Hitchcock – yes, I only discovered it this year

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? I turned 31 on autumn equinox and spent a lovely week in London, visiting old territory/spending time in my favourite part of town and catching up with friends. My actual birthday wknd was spent just chilling in a luxury hotel, thanks to a great deal at lastminute.com

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? Hmm... past is past, I'd much rather focus on what I can change...

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2007? Huh? Perhaps, stick to the tried and tested? I like the classical. For periods of my life I've actively tried to challenge my penchant for wearing black. 2007 was not one of those years.

32. What kept you sane? The gym, unplugging from work by delving into good books or creating room for contemplation and recharging my batteries, quality time and –discussions with friends.

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? Huh? Can't think of anyone

34. What political issue stirred you the most? I forget, it was only media for me this year. I was going to write a long rant about appalling righteousness of Norwegian health service when faced with evidence of its own failings this summer, but perhaps it was for the better that I didn't.

Then there was Benazir Bhutto's assassination: it felt almost like a physical blow, even though her record is mixed, and, though strictly speaking far away, it was obvious at once it would have global ramifications – it had an immediate effect on commodities like oil and gold, on stock-, bond- and currency markets, on the strategies of US presidential candidates, on the substantial Pakistani immigrant communities in countries like Norway and Britain, and, hopefully it will force a change in the US state department's policy of backing 'benevolent' dictators...

In the words of Matthew d'Ancona 'On the eve of 2008, Pakistan' - or 'Setbackistan' as editorial cartoonist Steve Greenberg dubbed it - 'is quite simply the most important country in the world', though the estranged wife of Bhutto's political foe Imran Khan offered the hopeful sentiment that Benazir Bhutto "may manage to do from her grave what she never managed in life."

35. Who did you miss? 1) John, who believed in me and supported my ambitions when not many others did, but died of lung cancer Christmas 2005. Alison who died of cancer in June 2004: we shared several great adventures, and she was much too young in spirit to end her life at 69. If I have one regret in life it's not spending my last dollars to find a cheap coach fare from L.A. to Santa Cruz to see Alison in 2003, I didn't realise it would be my last chance, though, wise from this mistake, I did have the sense to get the train down to Plymouth to see John when he was on his deathbed.

2) Friends in various parts of the world. Internet has made the world smaller, but I still wish I could slip out my front door and into a pub or cafe in London, Oslo, Amsterdam, San Fransisco, Washington d.c etc without having to find time and money for all that air travel. Perhaps for 2008 I'll have to 1) get myself a better internet connection so I can take full advantage of Second Life and 2) convince friends in faraway places to hook up there...

36. Who was the best new person you met? Hmm, do I have to choose? I met several, mostly by chance, some by design

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2007. Choose your battles: you can do everything you put your mind to, but not everything at the same time and be sure the price is worth paying. Nurture peripheral vision. Don't get locked into other people's agendas, don't make other people's priorities your own.

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
Morcheeba: Over and over Nah, 1998, not quite what I remembered, nothing springs to mind right now...


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