So says a study. Journalists have the worst jobs because of the low pay, long working hours and high stress, says a new study. A newspaper journalist’s job is worse than that of a garbage collector, waiter/waitress, butcher, dishwasher and the list goes on. I don’t want to add further because that might inspire me to do something fatal about myself.
I have been a journalist for the last 18 years. I never joined the profession for the lure of money. Anyway, eighteen years ago, money was not ‘on your face’ object. India had then just started flirting with economic liberalisation. Even in a city like Delhi, one could manage with little money (little even by the mid 1990s standard) and still occasionally shop at Dastkar and enjoy a Chinese meal at Golden Dragon or Osaka. The newsroom was a great place for learning, assimilation and having fun. It was simply addictive. One could never have enough of news.
I remember on December 31, 1999 when the whole world was partying to welcome the new millennium, I was in the newsroom happily making pages. The Kandahar hijackers had just released the passengers and I remember working all excitedly on the front page with a senior colleague. We were so absorbed in our ‘lowly paid’ work that not once we felt miserable about working on a night that smelt of cocktail. Even as the streets of Bangalore were full of revelers screaming with joy and happiness, we were raking our brains over the lead headline. I am still very much addicted to news. I still feel like a child in the candy store when a news story is developing.
But in post-liberalised India, the newsroom has changed. Now a journalist is just a journalist sans any passion. Very few are compassionate. Very few have a perspective on anything whether it’s cricket, relationship or cinema. I am not even talking about politics. Recently I asked a young reporter ‘Who’s India’s home minister?” He just gave me a blank stare as if I was asking about nuclear physics.
And even before young journalists can file an interview with a B Town celebrity or a cricketer, they post their pictures with the celebrity on Facebook to grab some likes and “you are so lucky…” kind of comments.
To be a good journalist, one has to be compassionate, non-judgemental. But then in today’s globalised world, compassion is a rare commodity. Today newsrooms are full of men and women having no substance, intensity or passion. There’s nobody to look up to. There are no towering personalities to inspire you, to push you to excel beyond your capability.
I don’t think my job is the worst job just because it has low pay, long working hours and stress. It was a job which was never associated with a great pay packet. It was a job which was never meant to be easy. It was always meant to be tough, stressful. But it was a job which had dignity. Now the changing newsroom does tell a different tale. .