Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Why I want to be a Journalist

I don't know why the word rolled off my tongue, but I do remember saying I want to be a journalist at the age of ten. In fact, I had never stood back to consider what the job of a journalist might involve. All I knew is I had an overwhelming passion to write, so journalism became a prominent ambition.

In the beginning I only saw the glamorous side of the vocation. Watching journalists such as Christine Amanpour, Rosemary Church and Tom Clancy on CNN held me spellbound. I thought their job was terrific. Then the big dream became to work for CNN as a broadcaster.

It was a dream I held on to even after secondary school. But it wasn't until my undergraduate years that I began to think more deeply about why I wanted to become a journalist.
I thought more deeply about it because I went for an interview with a national daily. There were about ten of us battling for a two-week placement. And it was at that moment, round the conference table, that I began to think more deeply.
Everyone else had a clear, crisp idea of why they wanted to be a journalist. My reason was more of an instinctual desire. It wasn't so clear-cut in my head.

The instinctual desire remains. But now I have a greater awareness of the clout journalists possess. Journalists are a conduit for information and entertainment. They have the ability and opportunity to shape people's opinions and even lives. They can effect changes for the greater good of society.

Having listened to former journalists in my class, I know there are a lot of factors involved. Many times journalists are obliged to patronise the viewpoint of their organisation. It's not easy for journalists to cut themselves free from their organisations reins and act independently.

In addition economics plays a huge part these days. The key to survival for many media organisations is to stay in the competition. And this may have an adverse effect on their news values because they need to think about what will sell. There's more to it than promoting moral values.

Still I believe journalists do have a chance, even if slender, to make a difference. Not many professions have the indulgence of an audience directly and consciously patronising their products daily. I guess that's why I'm in it. I want to help people broaden their horizons - let the West see good things happening in the East and vice versa. Let's find practical solutions to problems such as binge-drinking. Let's talk change.

Probably I'm still viewing journalism through rose tinted glasses. As they say, the taste of the pudding is in the eating. Maybe a few years from now I wouldn't be sounding as idealistic.
I know there will be challenges every step of the way. A man reminded me of that when I was out on my patch news hunting. I tried to engage him in some small talk, but the moment he found out I was a student journalist he switched off. 'There are no seedy stories here', he insisted. The truth is, I felt very disappointed he should view me in such a light. Not every journalist chases after yellow stories.

All the same, I still believe journalism is a unique vocation (some people argue it is not a profession). Only time will tell what tune I'll be singing years down the line, and if this childhood dream of mine will live up to expectations...


A big thank you to everyone who has read this blog. Thank you so much for your contributions and comments, you've made my efforts worthwhile.


  1. Is it possible for a journalist to express his or her own opinion which is different from the company that he or she is working for?

    For example, can a journalist working for high class / middle class company (e.g. telegraph) be a socialist and social critic?

    It seems that some journalists must sale their consience in order to belong and I hope you do not join such people.

    Good luck with your proposed profession.


  2. Well spoken lilinco's journalism is a little bit sold out. Media is controlled by certain people and tailored to get a certain response from the masses.

    However some independent journalist do have great reputations. Even on CNN, Larry King is his own man, and O'Reilly's on Fox is pretty blunt.

    I believe in your vision whatever you believe you can achieve.

  3. Trying to find stories for patches is a task in itself. It's not only that we are journalists but that we are student journalists so there is a slim to none chance that whatever we write will not be published. I feel like journalists are constantly used by organizations, their employers...everybody! I guess it's the idea of society that if they don't take advantage first they will be taken advantage of by journalists. I have to say it does say something when you tell people you want to be a journalist or tell people you are a journalist. There is this visceral reaction and also something tangible that you can feel. I have to say I kinda like it. Good luck to us Oluchi.

  4. I also felt that instinct to become a journalist during my secondary school days but changed my mind when I felt blatant lies were being told to the public by journalists during electioneering campaigns in my country at that time. The only journalists I knew then were news reporters on radio and television networks!

    In any case I think you have chosen a noble profession (or vocation as you prefer to call it) and have the chance to change that impression that was planted on my mind then. "Junk" journalism may win you a quick sale of your materials, but it is only factual journalism that can change the world for the better; only factual journalism can win you a place in the comity of celebrities. Only factual journalism enjoys the respect of the people they serve.

    Oluchi, I wish you the very best in your vocation.