Journalism in India is a changed space, it’s also a restricting space, now. Today, it’s more important to follow trends and numbers, than to do the right thing. What used to be about sharing information, is about selling it, which always ends up in an unhealthy competition. For women, it can be especially tricky because being a woman with an opinion never ends well.
It’s not a great time to be working in media, because you are almost never rewarded for being honest. These experiences are proof:
1. “Unlike most kids, I did not have specific career-related ambitions growing up. However, I knew that I want to help people and that I want to write. That is why I became a journalist. It is difficult (and unfortunate) to be working in these times because the higher ups tell you that you can write…as long as you say what we want you to say. It doesn’t work like that, and so many times raises questions about virtue in my head. All my writing loses purpose if I can’t help.
And being a woman in media is a completely different kind of struggle. All industries are sexist but media has to be one of the worst ones. Men are given advantages over and over. Their opinions, which are often less practical, matter more.”
– Ira Shukla
2. “It’s surprising honestly sometimes, but it’s also fun, because you get to learn about the psychology behind people’s decisions and opinions. When I started working at my firm, I was very new and things used to affect me. With time, you have to have a thick skin when you’re working. It’s complicated also because now there are also major clashes going around in the nation. So it’s tricky to work around all of this, because you can never please everyone. At the end of the day, my job is to do what’s right, as a journalist.”
3. “The organizations which are in the game, they don’t do their job the way they should be doing. They’re just appeasing the people in control. The organizations which do end up doing what the media should do, they pay their reporters really less. Most of the times, these reporters are just thrown under the bus. So, no matter how much people actually love this job, the fact that there is actually no safety net, makes people end up working for places that are not doing the right thing.”
4. “Your creative/editorial ideas are often devalued and are only respected (if ever), if one of your more liked peers end up pitching it.”
5. “I studied journalism, because it is one of the ways to have an opinion and be part of the change. Currently, there’s not a lot of space left for that. I started out as a writer, but my job roles are mostly about doing promotional stuff now. This leaves almost no room for my opinion. As women, we have to work harder, so I have to work harder at something I had not signed up for.”
– Surbhi Gupta
6. “The issue with today’s political and social climate is that a lot of people get attacked for having an opinion. So for women journalists, this is especially scary, given that every time we put our names to a story, we receive backlash. And disagreement is one thing, it’s the threats and trolling that gets to me. It’s not easy being a woman with an opinion today.”
– Muskan Mehta
7. “Okay, so when it comes to being a journalist, it’s not just about people around you, in your firm. You also need to interact with other people, who are sources. In my case, there have been times when people I was supposed to interview or interact with, crossed boundaries. We cannot even do anything about it, because there’s no way that they’ll react properly. We have to do our job and deal with these problematic things, because there’s no other way.”
8. “Like any other field, there’s a lot of misogyny. I feel like as a woman journalist, I end up putting myself in situations that I’m not comfortable with, just so I can prove myself.”
9. “Women in media have to deal more with the beauty standards, which is never talked about. You have to look a certain way all the time, and while these things are unsaid, they impact your work. If you don’t commit to other’s expectations, you don’t get to do what you like.”
10. “The industry does not have a spine anymore. Most firms don’t have a stand, which means that if you work for them, you can’t have a stand. And there are no enough places to do what you love, and still be honest. It has all come down to numbers and viewers, so you have to adjust all the time. I have had to compromise my opinions because otherwise I wouldn’t even be allowed to say anything.”
11. “I feel that women in journalism are reduced to writing ‘masala’ news. No, we aren’t interested in celebrity weddings and their breakups. Also, pay disparity, like every other field, exists in media too.”
It’s harder when there is no probable solutions to make things right, because there are always logistics involved.