A year in and there is still much I’m learning about journalism. The term still feels like an odd fit – like an extra large ice cube in my mouth. “Journalist”. Maybe it’s because I’ve always looked up to the profession, to the stories, and to the people behind the words, that I hold the entire field in high esteem. Although I was never formally educatated in journalism, there are some basics that seem pretty obvious to me. Things like: being accurate, double checking information, not changing quotes, not making up stuff… etc.. but a few days ago I had to a face a situation that I could never have conceived of.
I went to an event and though people from other medias were there, I didn’t know any of them. One man in particular was being awfully chummy to the point where I was mildly confused….and then he asked me for my notes.
I have my issues with journalists in Nepal because of the bad rep they’ve given the occupation. I’ve had many people be wary of me during interviews because others have published inaccurate and wrong information which I find completely unacceptable especially in this field where our job is to provide information. I’ve had people, in my own office, be petty and absurd about their position in the media because as a whole, we in Nepal fail to under the gravity of the responsibility that come with power… and the media is pretty powerful.
So when this guy asks to copy my notes I was dumbfounded and choose to respond with silence. Whereas I believe in helping fellow journalists, I found myself in a prediciment. If someone was asking for a contact I would happily offer one, if someone needed a ride, I’d give one (if I had my own transport) but as one journalist to another – I wasn’t sure where to draw the line is offering my notes.
I thought about it, and I decided that I wouldn’t help him – not just because I want my story to be better (since other publications, at the end of the day, are competition) but because he was fully capable of taking notes but choose to be lazy since he assumed he could take mine. I felt like I was back in high school when other “friends” would try to cheat off me and letting someone cheat doesn’t actually help anyone.
So when this fellow attempted to be uber chummy in order to access my notebook and recorder, I politely (and then more obviously) ignored him. Maybe this makes me a bitch, but I don’t want to be someone endorsing the unprofessional behavior of others who happen to be in the same field. It’s disappointing and disgusting.
I think this is an attitude that a lot of people in Nepal have – getting away with the bare minimum and doing it just for the final product. School kids only want a good grade on an exam so they cheat without actually learning anything, and it seems journos just want info to be able to write their piece without having to be accountable for the material they publish, and that is a mighty mighty shame.
I have no idea what other publications published since I haven’t looked, but I wouldn’t be surprised if I was the only one with certain information – there is no reason I should be feeling proud of myself because it’s something basic that is required of me and the title I have on my business card. I was just doing my job… I wish others would too.