Career Perspective | Journalism
My perspective on Journalism as a Career by Kabuku C. Kabwela
“Journalism is popular, but it is popular mainly as fiction. Life is one world, and life seen in the newspapers is another.”
–Gilbert K. Chesterton–
When I think of Journalism, I first define it from a theoretical point of view. Journalism is the production and dissemination of reports on current and past events. The main role of this industry is to educate, inform and entertain.
It is said that the pen is mightier than the power of the sword and to borrow the words of Jim Morrison ; “one who controls the media, controls the mind.”
This and more, is one of the major reasons that the press is considered as the fourth estate of the world after the Executive, legislature and Judiciary. Journalism is quite a thrilling career and grants one exposure that no other industry can.
It is the industry that society loves to critique but cannot do without, whose people are seemingly picture perfect unbridled with unwavering confidence. The writing and reports are nothing short of captivating, it is the industry with a glamorous effect, to outsiders it is fascinating and alluring.
Why wouldn’t it be though? When it is one of the few industries that due to the nature of it’s work (following wherever the story leads), can see you having breakfast in Lusaka, lunch in South Africa, Dinner in Dubai and back home in time to sleep in your bed. It is the dream job of any lover of word and narration, travelling and networking; among other interests.
Journalism as an industry has many pros, some that include but are not limited to;
- learning for a living,
- developing skills that range from writing
- reporting, editing, production, photo and videography etc
- the opportunity to write about various kinds of stories and topics
- learning the behind-the-scenes workings of government, politics, law, sports, entertainment, business or other topics you may cover
- meeting, interacting and getting acquainted with high profile and interesting people such as; government officials, business owners and other public figures.
However, to tap into the famous cliché words, “not all that glitters is gold” , anyone venturing into journalism should know that there are two sides of the coin. There is definitely more than meets the eye in this industry.
Some of the cons of the industry that lay below the surface of the glitz and glamour from my experience, as well as from a short survey conducted of my peers practicing in the field of journalism:
- Sexual harassment of female interns by senior reporters and people in management.
- Lack of employment; most youth are only taken on as interns and not as paid employees.
- Lack of promotion; you might get stuck in the same role for the rest of your career, this coupled with demanding deadlines, long working hours, nights, weekends and some holidays.
- It involves high risk assignments that can be life threatening.
- Despite the demanding and risky nature of the job, the industry involves low salaries especially in private media.
- Limited freedom of expression and media house bias.
- Sources may react angrily to some of your questions and stories.
- Unless you have connections, you will find it difficult or impossible to get a job or even an internship as well as advancing from a small news outlet to a major news outlet.
In Zambia, the potential to have a career in journalism is difficult as few jobs exist in news media. Many writers, editors and broadcasters have gone into public relations, marketing or advertising. Some have become teachers, professors or attorneys and often one hears that one may be better off pursuing those careers instead.
In conclusion, it is safe to say that journalism is not for the faint hearted but the strong-willed. As the path of one that studies it, is not an easy road. You will be met with a lot of roadblocks that may leave you frustrated and often with a bitter taste in your mouth. Would I pursue something else? No because this is the path that I love and that I have chosen.
NB: This is in no way meant to discredit the industry or players in it but merely giving an objective and balanced perspective.