Many thanks to Journalism.co.uk for including me in their latest Freelance Frontline.
>> Freelance Frontline: Updates from Linda Jones, Richard Johnson, Joe Griffin and Christian Dunn
I gave in my notice as digital editor at NWN Media several months ago and have now started a PhD in geo-engineering looking at the carbon cycle in wetlands.
Throughout my studies I'll be doing some freelance work in feature writing, reporting, filming and multi-media production.
At the moment I'm working on a wide variety of topics but eventually I hope to specialise in science and environment, and web and technology.
I'll also be doing general PR work, web management and search engine optimisation (SEO) consultancy - and I'm lucky enough to already be working with some great clients.
If you're interested in knowing any more please get in touch for a chat - cdunn09 AT gmail DOT com or contact me through Twitter @christiandunn.
Leaving local journalism
I've thoroughly enjoyed my years in local journalism, it has been a terrific experience and given me a fantastic armoury of skills.
I hope I was good for NWN Media, their web presence is certainly pretty impressive now and we got a fair bit of recognition for some of our more ground-breaking initiatives over the years.
My original degree and Masters though were in science and I always suspected I'd return to academia eventually.
Fortunately, just as I was beginning to get itchy feet at NWN Media and thinking of a new challenge I got offered a PhD by one of my old university lecturers and the opportunity was too good to miss.
I never plan on leaving journalism though, in fact I hope to become more involved in science journalism.
Leaving NWN Media
Some people asked me when I was leaving NWN Media whether my decision to go was based on the apparent demise of the regional press.
Well no, it wasn't really. Of course it did concern me but I'm not particularly negative about the state of the industry.
It will survive. Of course it is going to change, but that isn't necessary a bad thing.
Ever since I started working in regional journalism aged 16 I was struck with how antiquated many things appeared, from the staff hierarchy to the computer systems.
This is certainly not necessarily a bad thing. If it works - and it has worked for many years.
However, perhaps now is the time for a massive overhaul of the entire industry.
People are getting their news from different sources and the vast majority of younger people really, really, really don't care about local newspapers (trust me, I now work surrounded by 18-year-olds!).
So, local newspapers will have to change and a lot already are.
I think the time will come though when they will be forced to make even greater changes and this will unfortunately mean job cuts.
Obviously this will be sad but the good people - those that have always gone the extra mile and taken on the new challenges - will survive and even thrive.
Like all cuts though it will separate the wheat from the chaff, but I think everyone would agree there is a fair bit of chaff in local journalism that can be cut - and at every level.
The end result may well be a leaner regional journalism industry. Perhaps smaller micro-local publishers will become the norm, but local journalism in one way or the other will survive.
Though I doubt the wages will be any better!
Thank you to everyone who has helped me during my career in regional journalism - I'm sure you'll hear from me soon when I'm trying to pitch you an idea!