14 Jul, 2013 @ 13:00
2 mins read

Long live the notebook

belinda  e

AM I the only journalist in the world who doesn’t get excited about the latest electronic gadgets?

Call me old fashioned but low tech still rocks for me. And that’s not just because I started my career in the Stone Age of hot metal typesetting. Bill Gates is my age!

My mobile phone isn’t ‘smart’ but it does all I ask of it. It’s mobile and it’s a phone. I could have done with one, 20 years ago, when we hacks had to file from the field via ye olde red public telephone box.

belinda 1(If we were literally in a field, it was just bad luck and we missed the edition.)


So what if it doesn’t have internet access? I realise I could miss an important status update on Facebook while I’m out but I’ve got more Pinteresting things to do than Tweeting every five seconds. That may sound like a big ‘but’ – yet ‘social ‘notworking’ (as I call it) can be that, too …
…. a Big, Unpaid Time-guzzler.

I don’t use a tablet, either. But Holy Moses, does that make me a Luddite? There’s nothing really new there anyway, as Moses would know.

Owning a Tower PC may make me an unevolved freak of nature but my sturdy keyboard is way more user-friendly than anything yet on the market. Words come more easily back in the comfort of my office and I get my coffee the way I like it!


Nor do I need to go to interviews with the latest video, film and digital recording equipment. There’s nothing guaranteed to scare off an interview subject like the threat of saying or doing something stupid and inerasable on film or tape. I’m after the sizzle and subtlety is required to encourage my subjects to spill the beans!

Anyway, for photos and video we still have photographers. Let’s not do them out of a living yet!

The very thought of investing in the latest gadget brings me out in a cold sweat. Too much choice can be no choice at all! The more labour-saving bells and whistles on offer, the more labour-intensive it is working out how to use them.

May I share with you the benefits of the best tool in my journalistic arsenal?

• There are no service provider costs
• You can use it in bright sunlight
• It works anywhere, without power, batteries or the need to comb the area for wifi hotspots
• It’s the ultimate in portability, fitting into a pocket or average-sized (not Prada super-sized) handbag
• Storage is unlimited – when it’s full you simply boot up a new one
• It’s 100% virus proof and will never crash
• It’s recyclable and doesn’t fry your brain with microwaves
• Losing it doesn’t mean your entire life’s work gone forever
• It works with just one app – a pen

As you’ve probably guessed I’m talking about the humble paper notebook, the reporter’s failsafe ever since a certain Thomas W. Holley, a Massachusetts lawyer, invented them in 1888.


Not being totally anti-progress, I advocate the later, ring-bound version.

Many attempts have been made to integrate the simplicity of the notebook in a computer but nothing has quite measured up. Not Netbooks nor PalmTops nor Digital Paper nor Voice–to-Text software (which, if you speak with any accent at all, comes out as gobbledygook).

Best of all, a notebook is completely unhackable.

Well, you just try reading my shorthand!

Belinda Beckett (Columnist)

Belinda Beckett is a qualified journalist and freelance writer based in the Campo de Gibraltar, specialising in travel & lifestyle features and humour columns.


  1. Ah, Belinda! You realise that aging hacks with such strange ideas as yours attract only ridicule and contempt.
    Personally, I am waging a one-man war of resistance against the mobile. To my mind being connected permanently to the rest of the world leads only to madness. I am really sorry for the pour souls who walk the streets with an iPhone or whatever glued to their ears, blind to all around them and often talking right in your ear.
    Sure, a mobile is a great tool for a reporter. But thank goodness they didn’t have them in my reporting days so you could be out of contact with tyrannical editors for hours, or even weeks, at a time.
    Any bar or restaurant which bans mobiles gets my business.

  2. Bravo ! Thank you for making me smile and feel that I am not the only person left in the world who has anachronistic habits. And while I DID use my PC to write and submit this comment I am proud to confess that I still write most of my letters to family and friends on real notepaper with a fountain pen. That is to say, I shall be doing it until the day ‘they’ decide to stop producing and selling ink !Perish the thought !

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