Journalism as a career option?
Since 2000, more than 90 journalists have been killed in Pakistan and hardly any of these cases have been solved. Most journalists dying in the pursuit of their profession are Pakistani citizens
Throughout the years of my life I have gained interest in various career fields — law, medicine and even government office — but it has all come down to one passion, writing. I believe that becoming a journalist is the fulfillment of a lifelong dream. My obsession with journalism has inspired me to believe in the many lifelong goals I am able to accomplish. As a member of the media, some of the top questions I receive from my students is how I got to be where I am today and whether I recommend pursuing journalism as a profession. This seemed so sincere that I decided to answer through my write up to help other young, aspiring journalists.
We all have heard that the pen is mightier than the sword. Even today, the younger generation is attracted to journalism even though the United Nations has ranked Pakistan as the second-most dangerous country in the world for journalists. Moreover, the Committee to Protect Journalists, an independent international body working for press freedom, ranked it as the most dangerous in both 2010 and 2011. Reporters without Borders, another independent body, consistently ranks Pakistan in its top 10 most hazardous places for journalists.
Since 2000, more than 90 journalists have been killed in Pakistan and hardly any of these cases have been solved. Most journalists dying in the pursuit of their profession are Pakistani citizens rather than foreign correspondents and their killers have not been held to account. At least eight journalists were killed in the country in 2012 alone, including four in the month of May. That is a high percentage considering that in a country of 200 million people there are only 18,000 journalists.
I see the attack on journalists as an attack not just on individuals but an attack on freedom of expression and therefore an attack on civil society and the very state itself. In a multi-national, multi-linguist, multi-sectarian, multi-religious, multi-ethnic state it is important that journalists are safe so that all these political pluralisms can be heard and can assert their stake in the fragile state. I have a strong belief that without a safe media and protected journalists, it is not just the media at threat but entire society. My media students always fill me with positivity when they say they want to change the fabric of society with their true and sincere reporting; I appreciate their courage and spirit but they are not aware about how they can do this.
People generally feel that journalism is all about writing or making it to the television screen. But it is not in reality; it is about reading and, most importantly, the ability to express one’s thoughts on varied topics. Journalism is for people who are ready to explore various opportunities 24/7 without the constraints of a cultural upbringing and gender, and are also ready to go beyond geographical boundaries.
Furthermore, Journalism is a highly responsible job and highly interesting at the same time. If someone is looking for a career in journalism, they should have a presentable and confident personality, along with the ability to write and present information accurately and concisely. Other essential requirements that highlight a good journalist are: an inquisitive bent of mind, good writing and communication skills, ability to differentiate between fact and fiction, tact, intelligence, awareness and interest in current affairs. Most importantly, one must be capable of handling unforeseen situations efficiently. If you are talented and hard working, a career in journalism is for you. With the growing importance of media today, opportunities in the field are numerous and the job is also demanding and exhilarating at the same time.
While talking to a student of media studies at the University of South Asia, Ali HaiderGilani said, “Journalism is one of the very prominent professions in the 20th century but presently we are hearing that journalists are being warned, called or picked up by the government and security agents for highlighting any issue. Even bloggers, tweeters, citizen journalists and freelance writers who are not actually in the field of journalism by profession but just write to get the truth out, have been told that they are being watched. As a young journalist that is really frightening for me and my other fellows who want to pursue a career in the field of journalism.”
Journalists, wherever they go, are honoured. They are treated as men of real calibre. However, before deciding to become a journalist, one should consider all the pros and cons. You still want to break into journalism? By all means but do get your preferences right. If you want to do something good for people and pursue ethical journalism, learn the ropes in a professional environment before sending your resumé to a mainstream Pakistani media house because you will get a job, a salary if you are lucky, but you will not learn.