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HomeEditorialMental Health among Indian Journalists is predominant

Mental Health among Indian Journalists is predominant

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Image: Bhanu Prakash Chandra / TheWeek

Journalism is not a very easy profession but it’s somewhat voracious work. It involves a lot of legwork; the routine challenge begins with traffic on the way to your beat by the time you reach your workstation one is almost exhausted. We don’t even know what kind of atmosphere one has at home, what are the routine snags one has in their life. Sometimes you would be late, or worse, miss out on special family gatherings. There can be physical and emotional challenges too. But still, no matter what you have to be a hundred per cent with your deadlines.

Journalism work is hectic, sometimes even toxic. There would be times it will raid you of your personal time. Sometimes it’s a thankless job. you would be blamed for social misery and the ills of the world in general. Journalism may not be all that glamorous a job. You will sweat in your pits and on your back under the sun. You would get wet in the rain. You might also get harassed for some reason. Workplace hierarchy is another issue. Pleasing your bosses, dealing with lobby and fortuitous things is another issue. This may not be in all places but yes most of the media houses are cursed with such occurrences.

Journalism might have some perks but this job doesn’t pay much, especially if you are working in a small newspaper or establishment. With minimum staff, one has to give maximum output. Yes, there is stress and dealing with it is not easy. The glory of the byline makes you run to polls and above all compete with your own peers to get that visibility. That exclusive task gives an unlimited load for the story. It’s a tough time to be a journalist, but journalism is still one of the noblest professions.

These days journalism has become loud, unbalanced and stressful. In the greed of getting headlines, one has to be on toes searching for some breaking news. Sometimes sensation grabs all the limelight and most crucial stories take a backseat. Balancing between the scoop and factual is tough. Occasionally, if you are lucky, your well-written/edited news or feature articles would trigger the formulation of public policy that would pave the way for social change in a community.

Your decision would depend mainly on your values and priority in life. If you want to get rich, honest and neutral journalism may not seem the best option. If you are the type who puts greater weight on using writing skills and communication, endorsing government and certain personalities than pursuing fame and fortune, journalism might prove a wise choice.

You might also want to consider the fact that there will come a time in your life as a journalist that your values and priorities would change, and so you would have to re-evaluate your prospects. Today’s journalism is more inspired by Popularity rating and not by the passion to expose the truth. it is more about creating sensation and instigating public sentiments rather than putting forth unbiased news with pure fact.

It is more about getting personal and political favours than making citizens aware of the various political decisions, may it be tax reforms, police reforms, constitutional amendments. Investigation stories are getting fabricated, created to get Pulitzer nominations. Everything is saleable from book reviews to movie reviews. Like any other profession, it is all about money, fame and power. The only difference is journalism has incredible power to influence the masses and has the capability to become change-makers.

Some journalists played significant roles in breaking corrupt governments, unearthing scams and scandals, covering heinous crimes and making the unknown stories of exceptional people known to the world. In developing countries, especially rural masses who have limited access to information and govt schemes, less reach to the rest of the country. Journalism offers them a chance to see the other world. Make stories about their struggle, their innovations. But all in all, journalism has changed from the fourth estate to more of a puppet in the hands of the mighty and powerful.

Due to social media coverage by citizen journalists, there is a lot of competition between mainstream media and social media. From threats towards freedom of the press to low wages and intense work pressure; journalism is one of the professions which is defenceless to negative impacts on mental health. The journalists have to go through various parameters and prove themselves. These days hiring and firing journalists takes no time, demolishing establishments and chasing particular scribes to death is not new. Journalists of India goes through various pressures and that creates anxiety. I am happy that various press unions and clubs are discussing these factors on public forums. Let us see how we can create a better environment for media workers.


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Vaidehi Taman
Vaidehi Taman
Vaidehi Taman an Accredited Journalist from Maharashtra is bestowed with three Honourary Doctorate in Journalism. Vaidehi has been an active journalist for the past 21 years, and is also the founding editor of an English daily tabloid – Afternoon Voice, a Marathi web portal – Mumbai Manoos, and The Democracy digital video news portal is her brain child. Vaidehi has three books in her name, "Sikhism vs Sickism", "Life Beyond Complications" and "Vedanti". She is an EC Council Certified Ethical Hacker, OSCP offensive securities, Certified Security Analyst and Licensed Penetration Tester that caters to her freelance jobs.
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