Category Archives: female journalist

'Crime' being single

When I resolved to become a journalist I was too naïve to realise that as a journalist I won’t be considered only as a working woman. There are many related issues which I would face suddenly without being prepared, while I braced myself for reporting only. I have never understood till date how my marital status affects me as a reporter. Especially when dealing with the police force at any level. Strangely the politicians who otherwise keep an eye on the reporters’ ‘weighty’ issues never show as much curiosity regarding our marital status.

With the change of guard every time I hope that the traditional mindset will change. But instead I’ve had to sharpen my skills to deal with this personal question. I have changed from being tremendously defensive and slightly aggressive because I don’t think my single status is for public consumption. And now I’m totally humorous, poke fun at myself and the questioner.

In fact one police inspector source would call me at odd hours to give news and I’d say family will not like. Promptly I was asked for residence address, whether the husband was nice, number of children and if he was a good father. Astounded I said I can’t talk at that hour. In fact another asked if I had few children because he thought I looked motherly. Now what that means I’m still to understand.

In fact in true police style I would be asked, bang in the middle of an interview taking me off guard. In fact one former director general of police was keen on finding me a suitor. I feared he would soon register my name with a matrimonial bureau. So I began exchanging notes with few women police officers.

So few days ago I met up with a senior lady police officer and we as usual were sharing our laughs and little gossip. I told her it is time I tell any inquisitive male police officer who asks me if I am single that I am either a divorcee or a widow. She laughed throwing her head back and said, “Oh so you too are subjected to queries regarding your marital status?”

The lady officer said how women have been the subject of gossip and talk within the male journalistic and police fraternity. Continuing in a lighter vein she asked me to declare that I am a widow because at least then the officers would show some sympathy. The lady officer cautioned me if I said I am divorcee I would become a butt of more loose talk and would be declared the cause of the break up.

And I realised I wasn’t alone. They too were put through these queries which made to the corridors giving enough fodder to us journalists. In fact one very senior officer gave me words of advice and cautioned me never to make friends with policemen. “We can never be friends, we are always police,” these words guided me through out as a reporter. In fact few months ago a senior police officer threatened to call me late at night to his office I told please do call other journalists too because I was confident he didn’t want to give exclusive news to only one newspaper. He never bothered to meet me after that.

Festering environments today

What does one say when top officials of companies subtly play games, harass, make sexual advances in a paternalistic manner & puts the female staff & juniors under immense pressure? There is a top official of a media company who never knew how to sell newspapers or has anything to do with media. He in fact disassociates himself from the newspaper he is the top boss of.

This top official doesn’t mind getting tipsy at official parties, directly coming on editorial floor & bullying female reporters. Sadly, he has not been put in his place…all fear for their jobs. The official is known to take frequent smoke breaks, talk loudly & actually tell juniors who speak or laugh aloud to maintain silence. He sneaks upto journalists’ computers and question if someone tries to play solitaire, chat or do something legal, for a small break.

A few days ago this official sneaked upto a senior journalist & told her “wow you have time to play cards.” So she asked “Why have i broken any rules?” No no he shouted aloud and came to her desk, “I only wish i had so much of time.” SHe mustered courage & said that she had filed the story & then said v casually & lightly, “Well sir you take frequent smoke breaks while i’m playing this only after i’ve finished my work.” Now he laughed it off but we knew he would not take this lightly.

Within a few days that journalist wrote an article of her foreign assignment. She received SMSz from even colleagues from rival newspapers. She got good feedback fm within the paper too. She was pleased people read gossip about people & events pertaining to another language. Suddenly her happiness was brought to a rude halt by the official. Now in between the top 2 editors of the paper had informed the whole team & team heads that NO ONE will directly speak to that Top official, it has to be through those 2 editors.

So when last week the top official called upon the female journalist, she spoke to the bureau head abt it, he told her its ok go & check. This man took off on a tirade against her. He pulled out the paper put spit on his fingers to turn over the pages (eeks) & questioned her about that article. She was brave enough to say what’s wrong. “Ita tongue-in-cheek, I’ve not maligned anyone, what’s the problem?” He smirked & snapped at her saying, “What tongue in cheek ha…you go out on this event, get entertained, have fun & write all this…” so she was baffled..he continued, “We sent you on this mission, there were few others too from marketing, what is this you write.” “Who do you report to? Who are your bosses? how did they sanction this?”

So she said “yes pl speak to my bosses. You said there were others, Who were the others? there were only us 2 women.” Moreso, she pointed out to him that the organisers infact that put up even women journos in shady red-light kind of area & in fact he shld be concerned abt his females staff. She even asked him to go on his PC & read blogs of internatinal women on that hotel. She then questioned him, “The office didn’t send us 2 women. ALso there weren’t any other person besides the 2 of us,” she said.

The official continued lambasting. He had NOT even read the copy correctly. It was a literary event, while he was at bay completely. He called out to his secretary who then told him the sales staff had gone on a business trip. The female reporter snapped at him & said, “see I was telling you. I hadn’t gone on this trip, pl read the article.”

This narration can give anyone sensible an idea of the affairs going on at that work place. The daily problems of finding good, exclusive news apart, the staff-especially women journos – have to deal with abso lunatic officials. Who do NOT read their own papers, do NOT bother to cross check before lambasting their juniors. Imagine the environment & pressure the staff must be working under.

The lady stuck her neck out. She promptly went & told the 2 editors. They told her its ok, don’t worry. They said not to take that official seriously & they will tackle it.