Being a journalist involves making calls all the time. You call people for quotes, you call PR persons for numbers, you call photographers to get shoots done, you call the guy – who mysteriously apparates and fixes stuff – when the printer isn’t working, you call to order food because you forgot to do that three hours back when it was actually lunch time because you had your writing flow going.
See, I’m on the features desk. My job is mostly lifestyle journalism. More often than not, it involves talking to big-shots and celebs. Yesterday, I was asked to speak to Puneeth Rajkumar – the son of Dr. Rajkumar, who probably was/is to Karnataka what Rajnikanth is to Tamil Nadu. I wasn’t exactly nervous, but I was a little apprehensive and fidgety. I kept putting the call off for later. I called all other celebs I was supposed to speak to (mostly reputed Kannada film actors) and none of them answered my call.
So i just made up my mind thinking Aiyo he’s just another human being at the end of the day. I called him but secretly hoped he wouldn’t answer. But two rings later that familiar voice from Kannadada Kotiyadhipathi (Kaun Banega Crorepathi in Kannada) said “hello?” (By the way, I know all these shows and actors because my dad watches Kannada channels all the time. No Hindi. No English channels. Just Kannada and Tamil. And he is a TV-possessive dad except when I have to watch football. When that happens, I turn on my stealth mode, steal the remote control, and never return it to him until the weekend is over.
Anyway, as I was saying, Puneeth spoke to me and I told him what my story was about and he was so sweet. He was laughing and making jokes. I was sitting my with mouth wide open and my hand was scribbling notes of its own accord. (That begins to happen after about a month into your job, when your hand knows that it has no choice but to scribble word-by-word quickly). I had probably expected some snobby personality, but he was surprisingly exactly like he is on TV. Really nice guy.
But this blog post isn’t about him.
So when I make calls, I have to convince myself every time that it’s just another human being and there is nothing to be scared of. I probably go into the call expecting the worst. So anything that isn’t close to bad seems extremely nice. I call people ‘sir’ and ‘ma’am’ if they are older than me and if not return the respect, I expect them to be at least a little friendly with me. Gosh! I remember once I had called Maneka Gandhi about a story and had stated a case of animal ill-treatment to her and she had said, “So what can I do about it? Don’t call me.”
I hate it when people do that. And one more thing I hate is when people sometimes refer to me as “you media folk.” I don’t know why, but that gets on my nerves! I mean, we may all be media folk, but all in all we’re different individuals with different personalities and different ways of thinking right? Just today I spoke to some big shot about a story and he said, “you people just want to hype the whole thing and dig into nothing.” I was so annoyed and dismayed. First of all, he generalised me as “media” and he accused me of sensationalising news (I think). It thoroughly ruined my day.
I’m not sure what this post is about. I think all I want to say here is I like people who are nice about giving quotes. One and a half months into my job and I have faced two or three snobby people over the phone. I try my best not to let that ruin my day but I’m still in the process of getting used to it. You know, maybe this is why a few journalists lose their sense of ethics. Because some snobs generalise them and treat them like scum. If they’re gonna be treated like that anyway, they might as well do dirty things. I have my principles and I think I am a good person in general. I’m fearful that I may turn into one of those people who do dumb things just to have something to put in the news.
Like today, I was watching News9 (yes, thanks to my dad, sigh) and breaking news was that Kannada actor Ramya‘s father passed away. Ok. That’s fine. But they showed a video of her receiving news of her father’s death and breaking down. That’s bloody inhuman. Whoever shot it and put it on TV is also media. I am also media. It’s just unfair having to deal with this “media” tag. I don’t think I’m too fond of it. Not in my current mood at least.
Of course there have been times when I felt totally awesome about it. The other day I got caught by cops (for not wearing a helmet) and I SO hoped they would ask me for a bribe so that I could flash my press card in their face and scare them saying I’ll report them. But that just has to wait. The fine for not wearing a helmet is too low. Lower than any bribe they’d probably ask for anyway.
Also one other time, an auto driver asked me what job I travel 15kms everyday for. “Government job ah?” he asked. I said, “No I work for a newspaper. I’m a journalist.” All he did was join his hands in a namaskara _/\_ and drive away.
I’m just puzzled about this ‘media’ tag and I feel like such a tenderfoot because I can’t make my mind up about it. Sigh.