Not all that glitters…

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,

3 Replies to “Not all that glitters…”

  1. a relevation for me!!!….coming from a totally different professional sphere (i though i was underpaid and overworked!! but this is way too much!!!)

  2. He is partly right. They have been times when PRs have been “roughed up”, at times indirectly blackmailed so that they can get more preference against other media entities inexchange of coverage. Saw few camera guys being out of the press conference, fighting with PRs with their loud voice for not getting the front set or something exclusive or getting personalised introduction to the products before the conference starts, threatening to walk out in the middle. There have been times coulumists ask for “free stuff”- anything between MP3 players but as high as LCD/Plasma set.

    News entities like magazines/tv guys don’t know about- its an “understanding” between the journalist/columnist and the PRs. Getting an exposure through TV/Newspaper is massive and the price of 1 product is much lesser than paying for an advertisement, they give it away in exchange for “sweet” words and high praises.

    When I said that reviewers are supposed to be toned down and humble, yet frank and concise/yet detailed in layman’s terms- they laughed. I thought I said something wrong but the reality is that in India, tech reviews are looked down as another source of PR Spin. Can’t blame PR guys, because few “reviewers” and tech columnists/tv presenters pretty much are writers/those who read press release to the letter with not much skills. If you see me in any press conference meets, I am usually the last guy behind.

    Sometime PRs push you to do something unethical, sometimes these media guys offer PR Spin services. Till now, BBQ is blacklisted in 2 PR agencies who handle 3-5 tech clients (most being tier 1) and we’ve blacklisted 1 agency (because of which they’ve lost a contact with a tier 1 brand and that company decided to get a inhouse PR).

    Bloggers and forum admins are pretty much the same mind you. I know I been running hardware bbq for 6 months but been reviewing and contributing for forums like techenclave since 2007, so I’ve seen few good and bad people from both ends. Best thing to do: Be humble and toned down, yet direct and concise/yet detailed in layman’s terms

    Double edged sword? Yeah. But if its used in the right way, its a very effective tool and makes you a different person and readers fall in love with you for who you are and what you do.

    I know: Reviewers aren’t journalists, but there are few “stuff” that we share in common.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.