People bit by the media bug everywhere

Jun 26, 2014

Journalism is considered to be one of the most influential, glamorous and attractive professions in Pakistan.

The same craze to work for media seems to be in the U.S. too.

It’s usual to see young people from different professions blindly jumping into journalism in Pakistan, but it’s really amazing to find the same craze for my beloved profession in the U.S. too.

One evening I went to the summer food festival “Taste of Ann Arbor.” I met a young lady named Alice, who is a fine artist, and Steve, a banker. They were sitting at a food stall and were enjoying some Indian food.

We discussed different famous Asian, foods and especially Biryani.

I told them that I am a Pakistani journalist and I am here for a fellowship. The discussion turned from Asian foods to journalism. They were quiet eager to know about journalism and the life of a journalist in Pakistan.

Interestingly, both of them loved journalism and want to become journalists. As it’s the “most glamorous and fun job,” according to them!

Alice sees her destination as CNN or CBS. “If not one of those, then Fox News will be fine,” she said.

I overwhelmingly welcomed both my new friends and quoted a young journalist from Pakistan, who has been swept up in media machine for the last two years: “If you want to become a journalist, be ready to sacrifice three mobile phones for your expenses and 12-hour long dreadful work for at least a year without pay.”

Despite being the world’s most dangerous country and amidst plenty of troubles, journalism is interestingly still the most attractive profession for youth in Pakistan.

In the morning of 14 February, 2012, I was sitting with some of my friends at our University department (Mass Communication), waiting for our turn to appear in our last viva, (a verbal test in examination).

I was curious, looking at the new admission list for journalism at our university, when I saw a bunch of students from medical and engineering background, who scored 80% or higher in their 12th grade examination (intermediate), took admission in journalism.

It is a common perception among the youth in Pakistan that journalism is a glamorous and fun job, while some idealistic youth think that through journalism they can resolve many issues in Pakistan.

Meanwhile, my teacher called me and said “Don’t you want to give your viva?”

I asked her to come and look at the admission list. She came and said what is wrong with that?

I asked her, “Aren't they stupid to apply for admission in journalism having had an outstanding percentage in their fields?”

She was also stunned to see the flooding tendency towards journalism from different fields. She was silent for a moment and replied, “They are really stupid! They should have continued their own field of study.”

It is a common perception among the youth in Pakistan that journalism is a glamorous and fun job, while some idealistic youth think that through journalism they can resolve many issues in Pakistan.

It’s also a perception among the people in Pakistan that being in media means a person is powerful. The government, police or any other institutions are afraid of journalists.

I found the same impression in Michigan.

I happened to talk to some other university students who expressed their willingness for journalism, despite having their academic degree in different fields. Though it’s quiet easy to practice journalism in the U.S. as compared to Pakistan.

Journalism is not really what we see on screens and read in books. It is a very hard, challenging and sensitive job.

However, I am not discouraging the youth of Pakistan or the journalism loving guys in the U.S. against journalism, but it’s really strange to see people’s mushrooming interest towards journalism, despite many journalists killed in different attacks every year, plenty of others targeted, hundreds threatened by the state and non-state actors. 

Especially, when a journalist highlights or investigates any matter or negative move by any political or religious party, organization or any institution, then they have to face the music.

Not only is the journalist threatened or targeted, but their homes and the media organizations they work for are also attacked.

So many journalists have been killed in different parts of Pakistan. Last time Shan Dahar, a private TV (Abb Takk News) was killed in Pakistan’s Sindh province in January 1, 2014, shortly after covering illegal resale of medicines at a local pharmacy.

In another recent incident, a private TV channel, Express News’s head office was twice attacked in January 17, 2014 in Karachi and three of its employees were killed, for carrying news stories related to a political party.