Behind Galway's exciting new publication, Galway Daily
What do you do when you finally have that master’s degree in hand and there simply are no jobs? You create your own.
At least that is the solution some Irish millennials have come up with. Michael Malone, Sheila Ni Bheaglaoich, Briain Kelly, Kate Robinson and Shelly Hannigan all recently graduated from NUI Galway with their Master in Journalism degrees.
After months of looking for work in their chosen field, they all came up empty-handed. Malone and another tech-savvy friend, James Dorrian, stumbled upon the idea of putting themselves to work by creating their own online newspaper. It was a recurring discussion over pints and over a string of nights. And that’s how the Galway Daily began.
“It was just an idea we started kicking around,“ Malone remembers. “We’d seen the success of websites like Joe.ie and the Lovin’ websites (LovinDublin.com etc.) The Donegal Daily has taken over established newspapers there over the past four years. And after coming back to the idea again and again we thought, why not?”
They had to get the website and the app developed which Dorrian focused on. And Malone just started writing content.
“It was hard in the beginning, knowing no one was reading it, but we stuck with it and we are making a success of it,” he says.
That’s about the time his classmates all realized that more than anything, they needed a place to write, to put their skills to work, to learn the craft…pay or no pay.
“It’s a chance to write, and to get out and dig up stories and no one else was giving us that,” Kelly said.
“Plus it’s a chance to build up experience and to practice what we want to do. I mean we hope it will turn into full-time jobs, once we start making money. But even if it doesn’t, this is good practice and it helps the CV,” Robinson adds.
Hannigan has taken on opinion columns.
And Ni Bheaglaoich has been able to specialize. She’s created her own page for stories in the Irish Language. “I’m fluent in Irish and I’m getting experience and building up contacts as well as learning the ins and outs of the business,” she says. “I’ve always wanted to use my Irish and I’m passionate about this because Galway is a bilingual city.”
Over the past three months, she’s written 94 stories in Irish and 44 in English. “And every story makes you a better writer,” she adds.
Okay, they all know it's not ideal. Sheila works five days a week in a shop in Galway. She puts in long hours and lives in a house full of people to keep the rent down. But she finds a way to chase down a story a day, (sometimes two a day) and write them up to contribute.
Briain spent months looking for work and finally decided to go back to school in the autumn. But he is spending his days this summer sitting in courtrooms and city council chambers collecting the details on stories he is submitting every week.
Kate does bar work in Galway, sometimes taking back-to-back shifts to make ends meet, yet still she is a constant contributor to the Galway Daily, not only chasing down stories but feverishly pitching ideas for others to pick up as well.
And Malone is orchestrating it all, writing content every day and making sure it runs smoothly.
“We started with no one reading, and we have more than six thousand followers now,” Malone says. “We have seen a 400% increase in readership since January and we feel it's working. We are the next generation and we are trying new things and seeing them pay off. We expect to have 15-thousand followers by the end of the year.”
The experience may help some of the new writers get into other jobs, and it may help them build something of their own for the future. And while they learned the tools of the trade in college, the real push to make it happen in this economy wasn’t a degree, but a desire. You’ve got to love Irish ingenuity at work. And these Irish millennials decided that no jobs available, wasn’t going to stop them from writing.
Check out their success for yourself on the website. They are giving you news as it happens…and making news, at the same time.
Erin Meehan Breen is an Emmy award-winning writer currently based in Galway, Ireland. You can find her work and her podcast, Erin’s Isle, at ErinMeehanBreen.com
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