My Momentary Disillusionment
I have always wanted to be a journalist. No wait, that’s not entirely true. While in high school, I decided I wanted to be a lawyer. Fate had other ideas though, and here I am – a journalist. Clearly fate made the right decision as I feel I am doing exactly what I always wanted to do.
In an ideal Zimbabwe, I would be a journalist in the mainstream. There’s nothing I long for more than the thrill of chasing a story to beat the ever present and ominous deadline. That adrenaline rush is my drug of choice.
But because I can’t begin to wrap my mind around what is our media industry today, I will probably remain on the outer reaches, skirting the stiff editorial policies and refusing to choose between the two ends of the spectrum borne of the state versus private media divergence.
Years ago, I recall how with much trepidation I reported for work at a national paper. I was just into my second year of study at university and my brother-in-law thought it worthwhile if I should spent my summer vacation learning the ropes. As expected I was a little more than thrilled. I would celebrate that first byline with a slice of my favourite cake and a good friend.
Celebrate I did but I lasted a mere week.
It may be I gave up too quickly, but had I to do it all over again; I am convinced I would last an even shorter time. My in-law of course put it down to “youth” and “idealism”. Except I always knew, long before I set foot in that newsroom, that the textbook concepts would not translate warts and all onto the ground. Heck I even read the said paper whose articles are written by some of my good friends.
What I could not stomach was the blatant disregard for what I consider mandatory to the practice of journalism, seeing it firsthand. Before that, I had brushed it aside as a niggling thought while still finding nothing useful to read save for the classifieds, that the profession had gone into the gutter.
Editorial policy aside, you cannot forgo certain tenets. Granted, balance, objectivity and the rest are hard to constantly achieve but when one is forced to read between the lines to get to the actual story, then that is unconstructive journalism.
Ultimately, the gravity of it was beyond my reckoning, far too much to live with and precisely the reason why I left on that Friday night, never to return.
I was not going to be part of it in such an intimate way. I would browse through, read the useful bits and keep myself in the know. But no way on earth was I going to go against the very fibre of my being.
Today I practice my trade on the fringes, as I have always done since then. I write about the things that make me angry, those that bring me joy and those that aim to shift mindsets. The disillusionment of the past is now just a distant recollection. For I have found a way. A way into the hearts and minds of those who count. Those who will listen and act. Outside the confines of those institutions I imagined would nurture and shape me. I will be unconventional.
I WILL SPEAK FOR MYSELF!