I meet or interact with a lot of fascinating people, and am constantly meeting new people, and that I guess is one of the really nice things about the job. Of course, saying that you are a journalist doesn't carry as much credibility as say when my father said it in the late-80's or early-90's, I even get that cynical 'You media types!' look every once in a while and people deplore what the media has done to this country. Of course, I have no intentions to take up cudgels for the media and I end up, smiling and telling them that I don't work for a trashy daily or a news channel, but a semi-respectable periodical, where I guess I am doing fairly well for myself, even though a part of me wants to get out and get back to school, flabbergasted as I am with the unraveling social structure in this country (or as some of my friends say, 'I just know crazy people').
Anyway, to cut to the chase, yesterday I was talking with someone on the phone when this person suddenly asked me, "So why did you become a journalist?" And there was this pause, because the answer wasn't "Because it was there" or "I had nothing better to do" or "I have big tits". I didn't have a straight answer, I actually joined my first journalism job because I wanted some work-ex on my resume and actually joined as an Editorial Trainee, but then I began to enjoy myself. I have always worked across beats, doing all sorts of things. Actually short of sports coverage, I have done pretty much everything, even the stories that got me places were on the craziest topics.
But, that is just a progression, I am saying I enjoy journalism, but I have no answer for the first question. I figure I became a journalist to do something, I guess to write (something I still think I can do better than most) and report (because as a quizzer I always had a fascination with current events) to the best of my ability, and maybe because back then I wanted a 'PRESS' sticker too, because it meant something. This job I thought would be the best use of the abilities that 15 years of the Indian education system had given me. Either this or become a teacher, but I'm too temperamental for that, plus like many good old-school reporters I smoked too much! And I wanted an active job, something that allowed me to go everywhere not sit at a desk all the time, meet people who mattered. I got sold on journalism when my former RE sent me off to Germany for a week-long junket, four months after I joined. Within a year I had seen more parts of India than I had in my previous 21.
I don't know if I have done what I wanted to do, maybe I have worked to the best of my ability but have I always been as diligent with my reportage as I wanted to be, or have I at times treated this job as a joyride, an excuse to lead a good life - travel, drink, stay in good hotels? But, I figure while doing all of that, I also ended up seeing stuff I would not have ordinarily seen, travelled to places that no other job would have taken me, seen both extreme poverty and the gross excesses of capitalism. Experienced some of the most amazing engineering marvels of the world and seen the economic development of this country from a front-row seat ever since I was 21.
But anyway, this gives me an opportunity for me to ask you - Why did you become a journalist? I know one hell of a lot of journalists read this blog, most of them even know who I am. And also that most of them never leave a comment, but all of you guys young and old can and should answer this question. Be anonymous if you want, even though I think you should sign. Why did you become a journalist and why are you still a journalist? Introspection is a good thing sometimes!