August 14, 2012
LEEDS: A proper journalist is expected to have a handful of professional skills. This could include writing, reporting, identifying an issue, digging up facts, being impartial, focused, well connected, resourceful etc. But fast joining that burgeoning list is the need for marketing awareness and scoring points.
These days journalists, irrespective of their experience, use increasingly sophisticated marketing skills to promote their stories. Amongst the tools at their disposal are the conveniently accessible Facebook and Twitter.
Once logged on to either, one is confronted with stories you avoided while reading the newspaper that morning. Reporters and even anchors have uploaded what they think is their greatest achievement.
The links of news stories and programs have been proudly shared on their walls. Some would also write what impact their story or program has made and then, obviously, a long list of praises. Their friends would say ‘good work’, ‘well done’, ‘bravo’, ‘this is called true investigative journalism’ and so on.
I swear I have seen what actually lies behind these generous comments. A journalist I know shared his story, what he called an investigative report, on his wall. One of our common friends on Facebook commented ‘You are the future of journalism’. I was left aghast by his comment as the story had already been published in one of the local dailies a couple of days earlier.
Finding myself unable to resist, I asked my friend why he had commented the way he had. His reply was even more shocking than the one on the story. “Bacha khush ho jai ga (the kid will be happy),” he replied.
He explained that making good comments on other’s stories helped him maintain good contacts with fellow journalists. Making good comments about other journalists’ stories increased the chances of getting a shared story next time, he explained. Moreover, it is also beneficial when it takes place on a reciprocal basis. A good comment about somebody else’s story guarantees the favor is returned.
I haven’t rarely if ever come across criticism. All I have seen is praise, which is true in some cases but flattering mostly. Some people also share the story of their friends and colleagues depending on the nature and extent of the benefit they expect in return.
Some journalists also use text messages for the purpose. ‘Please read my story today in daily…..SC has taken suo-moto action on it. And also ‘plz watch my program on…TV at 8pm’.
There are certain individuals who ask, “Have you seen today’s paper?”
If you say ‘yes’ then you are in real trouble. They expect praise for it. If you say ‘no’ then you have to hear a lecture on the disadvantages of not reading the newspaper regularly.
There are also some journalists who start to market their stories even before they get published. “Today I have got a big story which is going to rock once it gets published,” they announce. If one out of curiosity asks about it, then they become dramatic and have you believe it is nothing less than a scoop. The next day you look for the story and find it has been relegated to a single column or left out altogether.
(The writer is the UK correspondent of JournalismPakistan.com)
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