Are you among those who strongly believe that they are born to become TV News Anchor/ Reporter only? Or are you among those who think 'They are going to become next Arnab Goswami, Ravish Kumar or Barkha Dutt of tomorrow? Whatever you think, certainly there would be a strong reason behind your belief but if that reason is among the following which I am going to share in this article, then I would suggest you to rethink over your decision.
I had the opportunity to interview hundreds of young aspiring journalists in my more than a decade long TV News career as an Editor with many News Channels and I am sharing the most common reasons which I heard from young boy/girls in Interviews when I asked them "Why you want to become a TV Journalist?" and trust me, they were the dumbest ones to choose a career in TV News. I personally believe all these reasons are the result of strong myths and general perceptions about TV News industry & professionals working over there. So read down all those myths:
1. I want to come on TV
This is the most common answer you receive when you ask an aspiring TV journalist (guy or girl) why they want to join TV News. They hardly realise that TV news is not just about the faces appearing on the TV screen rather there are hundreds of people who work behind the screen in TV news on Desk & other departments like Scripting, Packaging, Assignment, Ticker, Monitoring, Video Editing, Graphics, Library, PCR, MCR etc.
2. I speak well
So, why don't you try for becoming a Radio Jockey, EMCEE or a Politician? You can do much better than in TV News because speaking well is just a requirement, not the core ability to work in TV News industry because first of all you would require the authentic information, knowledge and understanding of the topics on which you have to speak.
3. I am very creative
Let me tell you, very clear. If you want to become a journalist for any medium (TV, Print or Web), it hardly demands creativity. Though it can certainly help you in writing good stories or in experimenting with on screen programs presentations but again if it is your core strength then you should try your hand in Advertising because you will not find enough space to explore your creativity in TV News. So, why to spoil your talent?
4. I want to become famous
How many famous TV Journalists do you know? 5, 10, 15....? And I am pretty sure that even if you know more than this, you can not tell me their right credentials like where they work? which show they host? or Why they are famous? Because these days there are at least 100+ National, Regional & Local TV News channels where every day at least 1,000+ faces appear on screen, so the competition for becoming famous is too high and the most important thing is if you want to become famous through your screen appearance you should go for acting in TV daily soaps or films. Please get rid of the impression that everyone working in TV news is famous.
5. I want to become powerful
Please get out of the impression that every journalist that interviews some politician or clicks selfie with him has a personal connect with that politician/minister because they do it as representatives of media & not as individuals. The day they will lose the job, no politician will ever pick their calls too.
I spent 12 years in TV journalism as a Reporter/ Anchor & Editor and still could not understand how you can become powerful as a TV journalist unless and until you are not going to misuse your capacity as a journalist by compromising with the right news to favour some politician, bureaucrat, organisation etc. or blackmailing someone in the name of exposing his/her truths (which is against media ethics). If you consider using wrong tools as Power then certainly you can be powerful but then why you want to become TV journalist, it will still require hard work and long time, better you become a 'Neta' or a Goon, you will be any day much powerful than a journalist.
6. I want to travel around the world
In a news channel, there are hundreds of reporters but only a few of them actually get this kind of opportunity and it depends on the beat you cover, the opportunities in that domain and your tuning with the Bosses who will ultimately approve your tours. So, if you are not among the favourite ones you won't be able to even go out in for domestic tours (in India), forget about the foreign tours. But at the same time, it's the most idiotic reason to choose a career because you can get this opportunity in any other field if your job requires. I would suggest you to become Spot Boy or Make-up artist in Bollywood, you would get better opportunities to visit most exotic destinations around the world.
7. Barkha Dutt is my favourite
Oh! so you want to become like someone whom you consider powerful, famous, popular or a celebrity? Do you even know, who was the reason for Barkha Dutt to choose this profession? Have you ever asked Barkha Dutt, why did she join this profession? What is common between you and Barkha Dutt? Do you have any idea what it took for her to become what she is today? Do you have any idea about her journey, her strength, her motives or her struggles to reach to this level where you consider her as your role model and aspire to become like her? I am sure, you don't have answers to these questions. Because you never tried to understand what exactly it requires in becoming a Barkha Dutt. There are hundreds of female journalists but Barkha Dutt is the only one. Am I able to make my point, why it's a weird reason to join a profession following someone els's footstep whom we hardly know?
8. It is an adventurous job
My God! I never understood this fact in my entire career because this is not the true picture. First of all, let me tell you that the adventures that you imagine as part of this job like covering a war or a terrorist attack situations are very rare incidents which are witnessed by a small chunk of TV journalists that too not by choice but beause of the need of the situation. So, it's not an adventure sport just because you don't know the reality. The real adventures of this job are the frequent trips to a very remote rural area to cover a political rally or covering a flood, earthquake or other calamities that too without proper food & lodging arrangements. I bet you can't enjoy these things if you are coming with a fixed of interpretation of 'Adventure'.
9. It's a lucrative Career
Media has never been a lucrative job. Yes! in initial days of TV News (In the year 1999 to 2006) people used to get better salaries & perks in TV News than their counterparts in the newspaper because of unavailability of trained manpower in TV news. But after 2008 when recession struck this industry badly, a lot of news channels were shut down and many laid off their staff in the name of cost-cutting. Nowadays, the salary in a TV News channel and a Newspaper are almost the same and in many cases, Newspapers are paying better than Channels.
For example, the starting salary in an A grade Newspaper is Rs 25,000 but in a Channel Rs 15,000. I know many channels which pay 5,000 rupee per month still people work happily in the name of TV appearance. Can you call it a lucrative career when you work in shifts (Day-Night) for at least 10-12 hours, your weekly offs are not fixed, you are not paid for extra time and still you do not get appraisals more than 5-10% a year?
10. It has a very bright future
Again a very wrong and innocent reason. Do you have any idea, how many channels were shut down in the last 5 years? Let me recall a few known ones for you - Voice Of India, CNEB, P7, Mahuaa News, Mahuaa News (UP), Mahuaa News (Bihar), GNN, JIA News, India News (Haryana), India News (Bihar), Voice Of Nation etc. At least 20-30 National and Regional channels has been shut down in last 5 years and more than 10,000 employees came on the road, a few of them committed suicides as well. Due to vested political interests, a lot of politicians from different parties, Real Estate Tycoons, ChitFund companies ventured into TV News industry with wrong intentions and when they were not able to make it profitable or take any other mileage they flew away shutting channels down. Still you think, TV News Industry has a bright future? Then only god can help you.
11. I can't do anything else
Hahahaha! I do this when someone tells me this. Why? You can easily understand now.