Lu-Hai Liang

thoughts from a freelance foreign correspondent

5 Budget-y Gift Ideas for Journalists (Xmas Edition)

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1. Google Nexus 5, £300

This phone is powerful, versatile, robust and great value. If you’re like me and unable, or unwilling, to drop a wad of hard-earned freelance earnings on premium phones like the iPhone 5S or Samsung Galaxy S4, then the Nexus 5 should appeal.

It has a large, high-res screen, a rugged form factor, and the latest Android OS. It’s also fast and incredibly smooth to use (I tried out a friend’s). The only negative is the camera which is not as good as the iPhone’s (which is still easily the class leader among phone cameras). But that phone is also £249 more expensive, and the screen of the iPhone is too small for the amount of reading I do.

2. Parker ballpoint pen, £4-£8

A nice pen. Although journalists tend to make do with biros, or whatever is available at hand, there’s something to be said about writing with a nice pen. The heavier weight, like you’re actually holding a tool fashioned for the craft of writing, the balance as it glides across the page. It does contribute to a better writing experience. But of course buying a decent pen for yourself feels somewhat self-regarding and vain. So it makes a perfect gift!

3. Leather satchel, £150+

Ok, so £150 plus for a bag might not seem very budget right? Well, a good bag can last you a lifetime. If it’s leather it’ll age and gain that look of having been everywhere (which might well be the case). It has to be leather. The material wears harder and has the benefit of at least some weather protection. I like the hard-bitten, man-of-the-world writer look, for which a good leather bag is the ideal accompaniment.

4. Canon EOS 600D (with 18-55mm lens), £400

This is the cheapest camera that also shoots high-quality video. For sure there are cheaper video cameras available but they will not compare to the Canon in terms of overall picture quality. It has a mic jack (essential to plug in an external mic) and although there is no video autofocus I wouldn’t recommend that feature on most cameras if you’re shooting interviews. The GoPro line of cameras is a popular alternative choice, but for sheer versatility the Canon is a good deal. For upgraders check out the Panasonic Lumic DMC-GH3.

5. Accurist watch, £35+

Robust, reliable and not too expensive – what a travelling watch should be. Something you won’t be afraid to scratch or dink when you’re out in the field, crawling along the rocks of a conflict zone, but also stylish enough for when you suit up to meet the commander general. Accurist is a British brand and I like their strong, simple designs. They feel well made despite their lower cost. They are quartz watches housed in watertight metal cases, so they should be pretty indestructible.

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