Being a journalist


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Along with my old colleagues: (left to right) Yousif Sindhi, Mansoor Khokhar, Yaqoob Joyo, Urs Umrani, Syed Fida Hussain Shah, Rasool Bux Sarang (me) and Doongar Dothi. Photo credit: Syed Fida Hussain Shah

In March 1987, when I completed my Secondary School Certificate education, I decided to work part time and continue my education.

I started my career as a trainee calligrapher, initially at two Sindhi dailies Sindh News and Aftab in Hyderabad, and later switched to a leading media group.

While working there, I did the multitasking: from calligraphy, proofreading, translation and sub-editing to writing. Within four years, I was the editor of weekly magazine.

My boss was basically a newspaper hawker, who became a manager with his dedication. Since he was not a journalist, during all these years, I was a free man to write whatever I liked. When I recall some incidents, I realise that sometimes I was like a bull in a china shop.

Once I visited Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation Hyderabad station, locally known as Radio Pakistan Hyderabad. When I entered a producer’s room without knocking, I noticed that his hand was rested on a female writer’s hand. They were speechless. After a few days, the incident was part of my radio roundup section.

I remember the day when the female writer, who happened to be one of our columnists, walked towards my desk with a horrible face.

“Do you understand what you have done? Do you realise what would happen if my relatives see this? Do you know in which circumstances women work? Mr, if I lodge a complaint, you can lose your job RIGHT NOW, but I am not doing so,” she almost screamed at me.

I was shaking and managed to say, “I… I… apologise…”

“Apologise?” she shouted. “After doing all this, you are just saying ‘apologise’?” she stared at me for a long time and then left.

Another incident. When I was in charge of a funny question-and-answer section, a girl asked, “I noticed you bowing down in the market a few days ago. What did you pick up?” I replied, “It was a hair-removing soap. Was it yours?”

Next day, I had a hearing and my boss delivered a long lecture on ethics.

In the same section, once I created a funny name. Unfortunately, it was a mix of a religious figure’s name and an animal. Next day, a delegation of religious scholars visited our head office, broke some office furniture, threatened the staff and left with a warning “do not do it again!”

In the very same radio roundup, I also criticised a lisping presenter. After listening to a long lecture again, I came to know that actually he was a relative of our media house owner.

When I look back, I realise that although I was not on the wrong side every time, I could have avoided many incidents if I had been trained properly or worked under the mentorship of a senior journalist.

Today, sometimes when I watch TV and listen to radio while driving, I also realise that some of them are accidental journalists. They sound like me, when I was an amateur journalist in 90s. They can ridicule anybody they like. Many times, they break a news first and then verify the facts.

Based on my personal experiences, I firmly believe that all this can be improved with proper education, training and mentorship of senior journalists. Today’s journalists are very lucky that they can find free training resources, and easily get in touch with media icons online.

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