Life of a Journalist in Pakistan

By Rukhshan Meer

 

Every day I read and watch multiple news stories and I observed that media, more than often, pays tribute to cricketers, actors, dancers, civil servants, military men and many other known and unknown personalities. However, no one pay attention to those who are behind writing these stories. Do you ever wonder, who gathers this information, compiles it and then write for you to read it in the morning on your breakfast table or on your office desk? I’m pretty sure that no one pays attention, nevertheless I did. A friend of mine is working in an Urdu Daily newspaper, paid me a visit to Lahore from Islamabad. A decent, well-spoken and well learned person – we had a deep conversation over a cup of tea on cool evening.

I had a quick Q/A (Questions/Answers) session with him.
Q1. How do you work in the field? It seems really interesting.
Answer. No man! This job is hectic. We have a lot of pressure from the paper owner, because he has his own interests to guard and whenever he is not on our heads the party will do his job indirectly. So we are in pressure all the time.
Q2. People think that being a journalist is a very well paid job. Is it?
Ans. When I started this job I didn’t get salary for three months, I told my boss that I eat food not air.
Q3. What about people who are already working there. Are they well paid?

Ans. Not at all! Journalists don’t work for salary; they work for respect and serving the way of truth. Their primary mission is to empower the citizens with information. A person who joins a paper initially gets 8-9000 and the experienced ones who is working from years are getting 20k plus.
Q4. This is too inadequate according to the need of hour. What are duty hours? Do you work part time?

Ans. No it’s a full time job. We go out in the morning, gather information, compile it, type it on Inpage (an software for typing Urdu) and then send it to the editor. The editor then decides what to publish and what to cut off. We get back home late at night.
Q5. Do you get some medical facilities for yourself and your family?

Ans. What are you talking about Meer Sahab? There are no such facilities for print journalists. I don’t know anyone working in Pakistan who has been given such facilities by the company.
Q6. Pakistan is the 9th deadliest countries for free media. Approximately 109 journalists have been killed since 2000 and impunity rate is 97%. That means there is no safety for your life, were you aware of that?

Ans. I know much more than these stats you’re stating, but as I told you before it’s my passion not a job.
Q7. You’re educated, intelligent and hardworking, you may get a better job with a better lifestyle. Why don’t you move forward and change your field?

Ans. Ask a doctor to quit serving his patients, ask a soldier to step back from duty and ask a lawyer to argue against your client – just like your question, all these things seem impossible. I’m a journalist and flourishing the path of truth is my passion, to inform people, to make people aware and to empower them is my only and primary duty. No hurdle can stop me off from it. None at all!