I always wanted to talk about this subject, but unfortunately due to a combination of the sphere of my work, time, and ample laziness, I couldn’t manage to write about this. Until I saw this Guest Blogging opportunity at BlogAdda, that is. So after a little deliberation, I started to pen down a strange misconception, which I have heard ever since the day I took up journalism. It goes somewhat like this…
Most ‘Media People’ that I have come across, (which includes journalists, PR executives, Ad men and women, event coordinators and people related to mass communication) are simultaneously the most corrupt and the most privileged people, among young urban professionals. I don’t know what actually started this generalization and hilariously misguided notion, which is like saying all Indians are good in Mathematics, but such is life. Now the fact whether media people (again, which consists of a vast variety of professions), are corrupt or not, is a matter of intense debate and scrutiny. I don’t hold brief for the community, though it is a bit foolish to say all journalists or something. A foreign correspondent, an economics feature writer, and a crime reporter are all journalists; they don’t get paid the same, nor is their influence over the public is similar. And I doubt, if anyone with a bit of sanity would call a certain Jyotirmoy Dey to be corrupt.
But, that’s not what I am talking about. It is the word ‘privileged’ that got my attention. Obviously, the editors and celeb media people ‘are’ privileged, they have worked hard and made a name for them. But the commoners, the junior journalists and PR executives, are probably the most misunderstood and exploited, in comparison to any other field.
I have met junior guys in Public Relations, working for 16 hours a day, which is insane. From nights after nights arranging for a certain event or press meet, to sending briefs, calling up people, getting blasted by journalists for bugging them like hell, (like he is doing it on purpose, it is the job of the poor fella), confirming stuff, venues and managing the event. And oh, not getting paid for it adequately.
I met so many PR people, with their overdose of sorrow during my first few months in Mumbai, that the effect on me was comical. Whenever I met PR people, I heard their personal sad tales. Then I joined a PR company, in South Mumbai, just to check out the facts, and also because I wanted a change from journalism. And it was not so comical anymore.
I saw girls sobbing, when they were left to go back home alone at 2:30 in the night, from far distant corners of the city, after the completion of an event. People working like mad on Saturdays and Sundays, when others of their age group were possibly two pint down. And that doesn’t mean they were getting paid extra for that, no sir! No added incentives, No bonus for working on holidays, but if you even get sick on a weekday, your salary is cut, and weird rules of taking leaves. One can’t take leave on a Friday and a Monday, because if they do, then four days of salary will be deducted, which will include the Saturday and Sunday falling in between, even though they were holidays. Now what if you have a viral fever, which usually lasts for a span of three days? Simple, 4 days salary cut.
I shifted back to journalism, disillusioned. But, there were different problems. The juniors can’t voice their opinion properly. Not a single organization is neutral to their employees. I know people writing much better than the hopeless interminable dross I churn every week, but they never got a chance. The Editors, and the HR people, in order of ascendancy, in any organization consider themselves to be much more than any average mortals, they don’t even have the basic courtesy and civility to anyone. I personally saw a dude apply to almost every big organization, but he did not even get a reply. Another guy I knew was working in a Sports Magazine based in Mumbai, which was suddenly taken over by a big media house. It resulted in the closing of the magazine. The bloke lost his job, and is still waiting for his last two months of salary, which the company is promising to pay every week. Seeing his luck, I considered myself fortunate to have atleast a regular column writing job, and I found my employers abroad are far more reachable and affable, and much less snooty than their Indian counterparts.
I may be wrong in my opinion, but I never claimed that I am right anyway. These are just the things I observed. The ‘media people’ do their job, to bring out issues which are relevant to the society, but unfortunately there is no one to take up their cause. Maybe it’s far too small to merit candle light protests, far too insignificant to the indifferent and stoic crowd. There is no activism against this from our Almighty, omniscient judges of the law courts, no hunger strikes, not even a mention by any senior journalists, as topics of these kind can dig up a lot of dirt from under their own mattress. There is no collective bargaining, no unions or organizations, not even some sane voices that can raise some potent question against these abuse.
But I hope bloggers, as always, through BlogAdda and other platforms, will take up these issues, these subjects which journalists avoid, either due to compulsion, coercion or indifference.
(I have intentionally not taken the name of the companies and the people involved, everyone can take some guesses however!)
About Sumantra: Sumantra Maitra, is a journalist and columnist, presently in Mumbai, writing for a bunch of international publications, basically for anyone who ever wants to take his ample, abound and generally trashy opinions on any subject. When he is not much busy saving the world with his philosophies, he writes on foreign affairs for Washington Examiner. He also runs a blog called Daily World Watch. You can find him on Twitter and Facebook too.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, BlogAdda.com