Cal Ó Donnabháin on Why he Loves Irish Tech News and Despises the Term ‘Millennials’

Cal Ó Donnabháin is currently interning at Irish Tech News as part of the editorial team. We caught up with him to find out his background, career plans, and why exactly he hates the term ‘Millennials’ so much.

What is your background briefly?

I’m just finishing up my degree in Irish and Journalism in DCU at the moment and have three years’ experience in tech sales as well. During my second year in university, I acted as Editor of the Irish section of the campus newspaper, ‘The College View’, and organised articles for the website. I won a Student Media Award for Written Journalism through Irish in my first year in DCU, so I think it’s clear that written journalism is my preference over radio and television broadcasting!

Does it seem like a logical background to what you do now?

Right now, interning at Irish Tech News, I think that my time working with the college paper has stood to me the most as I’m familiar with the methods required to quickly and efficiently get content online. Meeting deadlines, prioritising different pieces for publishing and other duties that come with the role I’m relatively comfortable with at this stage. Along with that, working in tech sales has given me a good insight into the world of telecommunications and understanding tech-jargon. I’ve developed an appreciation for things that I may have not paid much attention to in previous years, like telecom infrastructure advancements, because it’s the world in which I’m immersed now!

Why did you choose to do a journalism degree – we are asking because there are so many stories about the death of the media etc – so the fact you have chosen this for your degree means you must have some thoughts on this?

I chose to do a journalism degree because I was always an essay writer and was never particularly interested in the sciences or any other subjects to the extent that I could go on and study them for four years. I liked the course layout for the BA in Irish and Journalism in DCU because it offered modules covering news editing, writing, ethical reporting and many other topics which I knew would come in useful in making me as well rounded a journalist as possible in today’s world.

You could say that journalism is as open a field as any to start up in and a degree isn’t a requirement to start publishing, but as far as getting your foot in the door goes, and having the knowledge from your degree to carry you through challenges, it certainly gives you the upper-hand. Not to say that not having a journalism degree doesn’t make you a high-quality journalist, but it’s quite a saturated field, with the accessibility of the internet and the opportunities it presents to everyone, and having the chance to distinguish yourself from so many others with the relevant training and experience is a great reason to embark on a course like this one.

What does the future look like? 

I think that future journalists, myself included, will have to be present on every medium if they wish to accomplish anything in this field. There’s more demand for visual and aural content than ever and with so much media coverage of everything that happens available online in the form of witness-recorded footage and tweets, for example, presenting a well-polished package with plenty of information efficiently delivered is so important. In short, you have to be writing, filming and getting yourself out there as much as possible if you wish to be a journalist today and for the foreseeable future.

Will we all be bloggers in the future? 

I don’t think that we will all be bloggers in the future because there will always be a demand for credible, confirmed and reliable news outlets. Anybody can create a blog and the fact that you can upload just about anything at any given time without any proof-reading or without getting a second opinion is a little unnerving. There are plenty of high quality blogs online but there are also some which leave a lot to be desired in regards to quality, tasteful content and most importantly, in my eyes, objectivity. Bias is inescapable when you have so many people uploading to blogs and to social media sites, so being able to hold an outlet liable for bad content is what I think will keep professional journalism alive, as there can be a lot at stake for their credibility if things go awry.

Is ‘millennial’ still a meaningful term?

Personally, I detest this term because I feel that it is a negative label. It’s a relatively new term used to generalise a rather large demographic and it has just become too easy for people to say “x is the millennials’ fault” or “millennials are x”. These supposed ‘millennials’ have become scapegoats for a number of issues, such as their being the ‘snowflakes of society’ because of certain people’s actions and reactions to particular dilemmas and issues that are put before them.

What are your own feelings about being described as one?

I become quite annoyed when somebody calls me a ‘millennial’ because of the stereotype that surrounds being labelled as one. I find that often it is used to put somebody down by people trying to make themselves seem superior solely because they have a few years on the millennial and they think that this ‘extra’ experience in certain aspects of life allows them to speak down to others who were born at the turn of the century. I don’t like labels, as cliché as that statement is. It would be incorrect to say that I, for example, am lazy or that I live off handouts as I’ve been working and studying seven days a week since I turned 17! This isn’t unheard of either. From my experience, a fair portion of people labelled as ‘millennials’ would be in the same situation, working through the latter years of their time in secondary education and working to support themselves if they go on further in their studies or if they decide to choose a different path.


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