Working life: Being a journalist

“A veteran journalist has never had time to think twice before he writes” – George Bernard Shaw

The view through the eyes of a journalist is not one easily seen through the eyes of the professionals, philanthropists and terrorists of the world – instead it is a combination of all.

This year I took huge leap into the very rigid and responsible sphere of the working world. The thought of leaving behind my years of being a carefree, oblivious and drunken student – in the least – terrified me.

Taking this leap of life was like walking with a blindfold into trouble. All I had to base my perception on was the endless bills I watched my parents pay, all the dreadful responsibility of being an independent adult and the distant thought that I would be answerable to someone – someone like a boss.

This “working life” I speak of came to me in the form of Eyewitness News (EWN) from Primedia Broadcasting in South Africa.

Having being a diligent student throughout my academic career – I was sure that will not drown as I take on my next career – this being journalism and the media.

I perceived myself as an informed honour student from Wits Journalism and when I got that email from EWN offering me a job – I perceived that it would be the perfect place to take the next step in this new career I was yet to embark on.

“A person without any ideas but with an ability to express them; a writer whose skill is improved by a deadline: the more time he has, the worse he writes” – Karl Kraus

Coming into a newsroom every day – you become less vulnerable to the little things in life. The small arguments from day-to-day with people you encounter, the tough criticism and the unshy sometimes unrealistic demands on you – all become something simple – like drinking tea.

You learn to become a tough and unconquerable person – immune to the things that would normally affect the average person.

A colleague of mine – in a long deep conversation – said to me that life is about friendship and acknowledgement. That’s exactly what I think about being a journalist. You need to have a lot of friends as contacts and the foundation of why we [journalists] do the work we do is for acknowledge. We want people to take notice of what we say, write and produce.

“The difference between literature and journalism is that journalism is unreadable and literature is not read” – Oscar Wilde

Seeing reporters in and out of the newsroom – going to places of danger, celebration and sadness –  and coming back to produce some kind of content as if it were just one of those things is a talent that not many have – I believe.

This same colleague I spoke of earlier – told me that he lives a two-fold life and it’s important to dream – not just in your deep sleep – but in your day-to-day life. In line with the title of this blog – journalism is the dream in reality and – while we are not regarded as professionals in the “working world” it is something some people only dream of. It is a life experienced like no other. There is very little left to dream about – expect a better paycheck at the end of the month – I suppose.

Sometimes I do wonder how these journalists do it every day, with the minimal sleep, the long hours and the crazy deadlines – because you really do give your life to be a journalist – but suppose its about we live – the passion within that life.

As a young one starting off – I am excited of what the “working world” has in store for me. It turned out okay with some minor bumps, but an exciting career it is.

“I still believe that if your aim is to change the world, journalism is a more immediate short-term weapon” – Tom Stoppard


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