Back when I was growing up, there used to be this awesome children’s magazine called Target. Apart from the usual dose of stories and cartoons, it had a regular column about different careers. These pieces used to be so interestingly written that I would want to do everything that was detailed there. So one month I would want to be an archeologist and in the next, a public relations professional.
But what left a lasting impression was not any of the many professions that appeared in this column.
In one of their anniversary issues, Target ran a cover story that captured my imagination – they explained how the magazine was published each month, starting from meetings in which they decided what articles would go, getting items from the regular contributors, editing the articles, designing the pages, printing, and finally the distribution. They also profiled every single person in the Target team, complete with a fun caricature.
Not only was it an interesting read, it made the Target office seem like such a fun place to be in. Their work hardly seemed like “work”. That’s when the idea of being a journalist took root in me. It became a dream, one that didn’t die out even when I met journalists who spoke to me about the bane of night shifts, or the long hours the profession demands.
After graduation, while looking for options for higher studies, I was advised by all and sundry that I should do something related to computers. The IT sector was growing rapidly at that point and there were some great jobs around. Journalism back then wasn’t a field that paid great salaries and didn’t have much going for it. But the deal about journalism is that it is hardly the money that drives you towards it. It is pure love for the field and the kind of work that pushes you. For me, it was the urge to be part of a profession that had the power to make a difference in people’s lives.
Power, you ask? Every report or feature that a reporter writes, touches at least one life. Every news story – be it a tiny one in a newspaper or a major point of discussion on TV news – makes a difference in someone’s life somewhere. Of course, it is up to the journalist to use this power well.
So anyway, off I headed for a year of intense training at the Asian College of Journalism. And I have loved every step of this journey. There were of course bad – even horrible – days, but they pale in comparison with the good times.