Why I do not want to be a professional journalist

By: Zakir Qadir

I got my journalism degree from University of Balochistan in 2012 but I possessed the enthusiasm in journalism from childhood. Even I did not know that journalism is taught as a discipline, I just wanted my write-ups to appear in newspapers and magazines. I wrote many pieces but never dared to send them to any paper having the fear of being not publish.Finally, sent some write-ups to some local newspapers and one of them got published in 2009 in a local daily “Balochistan Express”, entitled “Education plays a key role in nation development” which I read dozens of time, huh! Reading that with ‘Zakir Qadir’ byline was pleasure.Another write-up with the name of “Need for Philanthropists” got published in ‘The Baloch Hal’, the first online English newspaper of Balochistan. Malik Siraj Akbar, the editor-in-chief of the newspapers motivated me to write more. I started writing in Balochi and Urdu also and presently working as the editor of Gidrosia, a monthly periodical being published from Quetta.

How I got to know closely about the threats in journalism was because of my research conducted in 2012 for the fulfillment of my Masters of Arts degree. The research entitled, “Reporting in Conflict Zone: A case Study of Balochistan”. While collecting data for this study I interviewed many journalists who were living under threats because of their profession, even some of them showed me the sign of injuries they had got in bomb blasts while reporting. Despite knowing about the threats, after completion of my two-year journalism education, I started working as a reporter for a local daily. I actually found the journalism being practiced in Balochistan was nothing more than “Munshi Giri”. I could not feel the pleasure any more in the Balochistani journalism so I left the field and started practicing indoor journalism.

No one can practice real journalism in Balochistan. We can say there is no journalism in Balochistan. The journalists out here are working in self-censorship because of the threats from, sectarian groups, insurgent organization, intelligence services and tribal chiefs. What I believe is to become a journalist is to become a spokesperson of all the above and it is impossible for a journalist to be loyal to any of these.

Razeshta Sethna, a Thomson Reuters Fellow from University of Oxford says, “I found evidence through my research of many instances of self-censorship, biased reporting, and an overall lack of investigative reportage because of fear of retribution from political parties, militant and religious groups, the military; and even commercial advertisers, media bosses, and corporate businesses.”

If I become a journalist, what issues I have to investigate and cover in Balochistan, the enforced disappearances, the activities of sectarian groups and insurgent organizations or the corruption of the political parties? I know if I became a journalist, I will be threatened, kidnapped, shot dead or my mutilated body would be found dumped on a roadside or the parts of my body would be scattering somewhere in a bomb blast and after death I would be called a traitor of religion, nation and country.

No, I do not want to become a professional journalist.

Zakir Qadir, M.Phil Scholar from University of Balochistan and a Gold Medalist.
He edits Montlhy Gidrosia, a Balochi language periodical from Quetta and can be reached zkshams@gmail.com

Published in The Balochistan Point on December 8, 2016

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