The famous and prolific philosopher, Jean Paul Sartre has written in his play „Huis Clos“ (1944) that the most important thing you cannot go by is a human mirror, that your being is reflected (though it also can make your life hell – thus the famous quote „Hell is Other People“). While thus rings truth, it seems to be the worry of the wealthy (as goes a German proverb). Because to come up with that Sartre needed time. To think, to develop, to phrase, to think again. But for him, the bourgeois although leftist male writer the fact of having time was a matter of course – as it was for many of his documented ancestors in the last two thousand years and even before that (Aristotle died 322 BC). For writing and thinking you needed to have time – that comes with money and a certain independence. One of the more common explanations, why there were so few female writers before the dawn of the 20th century, is, that women simply didn’t have the time. British writer Jane Austen was admired not only for her body of work but also the fact, that she managed to write down some lucid thoughts during the 10-minutes periods while she indeed had the living room for herself and did not have to entertain guests or attend to her nieces and nephews as was her position as an unmarried woman – living alternately with one of her married siblings.
Fifteen years before Sartre published „Huis Clos“ in France, somewhere in Great Britain, one of the greatest writers of all time, Virginia Wolf published her essay „A Room Of One`s Own“, which was and still is widely received not only as an anti-fascist and anti-imperialist essay but also as a feministic lighthouse, women being by gender already member of some kind of precariat. Virginia Wolf argues in „A Room Of One’s Own“ that women – in order to write – need money and a room of one’s own. Roughly translated: Time.
We have been to many a newsroom in our whirlwind tour through the US. Time, money and some space of one’s own are still major issues. Nowadays journalists battle not only on the front of holding on to a job, but within most news organisations with the pressure of having as much output as possible. Quantity beats quality – that seems to be the general notion. „It does not have to be good. Just write something“, is the most horrible phrase you can say to a writer. Fill the paper. Fill the homepage. Fill the blog. Output output output.
Let me be clear: I can write as fast as anybody. I have –as any other journalist with some years of experience – a blueprint in my head for any story. Header, first phrase, second, etc.. But I prefer not to use the ready-made skeletons because anybody could do that. In fact, everybody with pressure and no time does that. No wonder that some papers have a hard time holding on to their readers. No wonder that a lot of potential readers tend to read some free blogs with at least a newish idea than running the risk of getting the same old warmed up stories and opinions over and over again in the news-outlet of your choice.