News and information is the hottest commodity in today’s world. Everyone wants to remain updated with their area of interest, be it current affairs, sports, entertainment, fashion, health or science and technology. This information dictates their world-view and behavior, and people often take personal decisions on the basis of it.
Journalists are the people entrusted with the responsibility to uncover new information and present it to the masses. This is why the terms ‘journalism’ and ‘mass communication’ are closely related. Due to the highly influential nature of this profession, journalists often take up a larger-than-life persona and the more famous ones are treated as celebrities. However, there are many myths and misconceptions about journalism in the minds of common people. Some of the are given below
Money, money, money
It is often thought that entering the journalistic profession automatically opens the doors of a rich and luxurious lifestyle. Nothing could be farther than the truth. Most journalists, atleast the ethical ones, survive on a fixed salary. It is only the exceptionally talented or the exceptionally lucky ones who are able to afford a high standard of living while maintaining their journalistic dignity.
Becoming a journalist is a cakewalk
If practicing journalists had a rupee for every time some layperson thought they had an easy job, their wealth would rival that of Donald Trump. People who opt for this profession have to obtain at least a graduate level degree in journalism or mass communications, which involves both practical work and theoretical study. After graduation, they have to work in junior positions on a small salary/ stipend in news channels and press publications under high stress levels. Hence becoming a renowned journalist is a long and difficult journey.
Everyone who writes is a journalist
Nowadays everyone is harnessing the power of inexpensive internet packages to contribute their own two cents on the world’s affairs. Everyone from your neighborhood watchman to the presidents of nations are busy tweeting or sharing things on Facebook. However, not everyone with a personal blog is a journalist. A journalist has to follow certain rules and regulations, which the masses do not consider while writing/tweeting/sharing anything.
Journalists can write whatever they want
How many times have we, as readers/viewers, accused some journalist of being biased and writing (what we perceive as) untruths? Unfortunately this is not uncommon in countries with weak media laws and self-regulation, like Pakistan. But most journalists abide by laws and ethics of the country and various journalistic bodies. Also, writing or broadcasting any fake news can get them kicked out of their jobs and their reputation in tatters.
It is just like any other profession
Well, in a way, it is. Just like other vocation, there are pros and cons, good days and bad days. But the stakes are much higher in journalism than other profession. For one, the environment is much more stressful since news-worthy events are happening 24/7. So a journalist is always working on a deadline. Also, journalists have to make and maintain contacts with all sorts of people in order to gain the correct information. This may include everyone from the general secretary of UNO to a drug addict on the street. Most importantly, spreading the truth almost always comes with a price, especially if it harms the interests of someone. Many journalists have died in the pursuit of truth and justice. Unfortunately, Pakistan is considered one of the most unsafe countries for journalists. Hence being a journalist has more than its fair share of occupational hazards.
Not everything about this profession is bleak and gloomy. Those who have the passion and skills are more likely to succeed. And a fair journalist is respected by everyone, which is the biggest plus point of all.