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May 29, 2014updated 17 Feb 2015 4:27pm

Piers Morgan, Jon Snow, Ian Hislop, Kay Burley and others on why they WOULD recommend journalism to their children

By William Turvill

While there might not be too many Humphrys in the journalism world of tomorrow, don’t be surprised to see a few ‘Morgan’, ‘Snow’ and ‘Hislop’ bylines.

Press Gazette’s story this week that Radio 4 Today presenter John Humphrys would advise his children and grandchildren against pursuing a career in journalism has proved to be one of our most talked about of the year.

And, it would appear Humphrys – who said his advice to aspiring journalists would be "don't do it" – is in a minority. Piers Morgan, Jon Snow, Ian Hislop and even Humphrys’ Today colleague Sarah Montague are among those who have told Press Gazette they would give the opposite guidance when Press Gazette asked: Would you recommend journalism as a career for your children/ grandchildren?

“Journalism is an unpredictable, dangerous, occasionally deeply unpleasant occupation, which involves a lot of travel, discomfort and public opprobrium," former Daily Mirror editor Morgan (pictured with Bill Clinton above, Reuters) told Press Gazette.

“It's also a fabulously exciting, important profession and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it as a career to my children – not least because it would appear future top jobs won't be taken up by any junior members of the Humphrys family.”

Channel 4 News presenter Snow said: “Unreservedly I WOULD recommend journalism to my children…

“My only caveat would be to warn them that they will have to be bloody brilliant to make any serious money!”

Private Eye editor Hislop said he would advise his family to follow a journalism career because “it’s a lot of fun”.

“We need journalists as much as ever and the next generation have got to work out how to keep real journalism alive in an age of ‘lists’ and ‘side-bars’,” he said.

 “Yes, it’s a different world, and yes it may not all be print, and there’ll be different ways of doing it online. But I can’t face the idea that there is no place for journalism… so I’d say, yeah, please do it.”

Montague said Humphrys was “talking nonsense”. “And I don’t believe he really thinks it,” she said.

“I would definitely recommend it to my children although at the moment there's not much chance of them following me into it as they say what I listen to is ‘boring’.”

Meanwhile, former Today colleague Guto Harri, said he would "absolutely" recommend journalism to his family.

The current News UK director of communications and corporate affairs said: "At its best, you are in the most interesting places at the most interesting time with the most interesting people… What could be better?"

Sky News presenter Kay Burley (right) said: "For the past 36 years I have had the best job in the world. Being a journalist is not always easy, but it is always ultimately rewarding.

"If a member of my family wanted to follow in a similar role I would counsel them on the demands of the job. You don't become a journalist to be loved or even liked, but it does offer opportunities that few other professions could ever provide.

"So, yes, if my son or my wider family wanted to be a journalist I would say, absolutely go for it."

Burley's Sky News colleague Alex Crawford said she would be "so proud if any of my four children took the same path".

She said: "I cannot think of a better profession, a better life, a better window to the world… Where you get to talk to terrorists and tyrants as well as Presidents and Prime Ministers…where you can sit cross-legged with refugees in the heat of the world's newest country and take tea with rock stars in the shadow of Table Mountain….. Where you can wake up on the roof of a mosque in Badakshan, in a cow shed guarded by Maoist rebels, or a ditch in northern Syria….. Where you can climb the Imja glazier to report on global warming, fly over the Kruger National Park with rangers in search of rhino poachers and trek over hills and mountains to meet Taliban drug traffickers…. Where your words and your eyes can topple a Government, defeat a dictator or help a rape victim.

"It's a tough life, unforgiving and utterly obsessive…but what a way to live. And what a privilege.

"I'd be so proud if any of my four children took the same path…. And I KNOW they'd be filling the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds worth of distance run, as Rudyard said."

A number of former and current editors also told Press Gazette they would recommend the career to their young.

Paul Staines, the editor of the Guido Fawkes blog, said: “My oldest daughter (aged 9) sometimes tells me she wants to be a writer, sometimes a reporter. I definitely would not stand in her way.

“It would be a life less ordinary, a chance to write the first draft of history. If she was a showbiz journalist she would get to hang out with the stars, if she was a business reporter the chance to meet and know the people who make our world. A good journalist knows the world.

“Or maybe she will become a ballerina. Either way I would cheer her choice.”

Times editor John Witherow said: "I would certainly say 'do it'. Journalism may be in the midst of turbulent times, but there will always be a demand for independently-minded people to report and comment on what is happening around the world. The means of delivering that news and analysis will no doubt be transformed in their lifetimes, but that will mean many new opportunities.

"What's more, it will continue to be damned good fun."

Meanwhile, former Guardian editor Peter Preston said that aspiring journalists should enter the profession “not because it offers a good career pattern or great salaries or security, because it never has, but because it's a vital job that can also be wholly enjoyable and rewarding”.

He added: “So today, if a grandson or daughter asks? I'd say what I've always said. ONLY do it if you know in your bones that it's something you have to do.”

Sun editor David Dinsmore said he would encourage his children to work in journalism but added: “The thing is we are sending them into a world that is not guaranteed, that’s the difference. When John and I started out there was a fairly structured career path and it was the same one that had existed for decades if not centuries.

“Now there are more opportunities but it’s not as clear what they are. But the thing people still want are stories, and they want them more than ever before."

Sun on Sunday editor Victoria Newton: "To me being a journalist is still the best job in the world and I would thoroughly recommend it to anyone who had a passion for it. You get to travel the world, meet fascinating people, and there is simply nothing that beats the buzz of getting a great scoop (other than your football team winning the league perhaps!). 

"Clearly we are in a more uncertain era, facing the twin challenges of fighting for press freedom and for our journalism to remain profitable in a digital world, but I believe there will always be a market for brilliant stories – whatever the platform."

Channel 4 News editor Ben de Pear said: “I definitely would recommend it; at its best it’s an honourable, world-changing for the better profession, and it’s always huge fun.

“It matters too much to think it will disappear and I would be very pleased if my kids or grand kids did it. Though being a doctor is a lot more use to the world.”

Private Eye editor Ian Hislop

And despite tough times in the regional journalism industry, both Northern Echo editor Peter Barron and Yorkshire Post editor Jeremy Clifford said they would recommend journalism to their family.

“Whatever happens in terms of format, there will always be a need for quality journalism,” Barron said.

“Despite all the challenges the industry is enduring there is an exciting future for those with an appetite to break news, tell stories, engage in communities, and make a difference.”

Clifford said: "The scope of journalism has changed massively in the 27 years I have been in the industry and is no less exciting, although a lot harder than it used to be”.

“The career allows you to acquire great multi-media skills, brings you into contact with people and communities you cannot get through other work and is still a privilege,” he said.

“However, it is not an easy job or 9-5 and must be seen more as a vocation. If you are not committed to this, then don't do it. If you are, then you will enjoy it.”

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