Jan 20, 2010 - rant    51 Comments

Going back to journalism!!! (updated below)

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If I had a penny for every time someone asked me to go back to journalism, I would be fairly well off if not down right rich. Someone I value very highly recently asked me if I ever planned to go back to earn my living through the written word. Honestly, I don’t mind going back to journalism but the problem is that my skills are not valued much by the decision makers in the print world. A couple of months back, someone I know who works for a media organization mentioned my work to her employer who called me in for a chit chat (as he labeled it). I went in, had a “chit chat” with him and it was very nice and cordial. He asked me what position I am aiming for. Ideally I would want to work as a staff writer who would just write, but as most Pakistani papers do not hire writers, I said that I would like to work as an Assistant Editor. To which he said that he does not know if his newspaper would have that particular post and he does not know how a newspaper works so I will have to come back and speak with his editor. A couple of days later, I got called and went to meet the executive editor. I was called for an 11.30 appointment and being a stickler for punctuality, I reported at 11.27am.



I was made to wait for one hour and 15 minutes. After waiting that long, some guy came out and called another girl in who entered just five minutes earlier. When I said that I should be called in first because my appointment was for 11.30, he blinked his eyes at me for a full thirty seconds and then asked my name and vanished. The same fellow came back after five minutes and profusely apologized to the other girl (who was a hot babe by the way) that she will have to wait. I looked at him incredulously; he made me wait for 75 minutes, he was rude to me and he is apologizing to the other girl! I made a mental note to tell the editor about the incompetent HR staff. I was in for the shock of my life when I was introduced to him and found out that he is the EDITOR.



As if this was not enough, the interview was a bigger ordeal. The editor and the executive editor did not have my CV and were not familiar with my work so they asked me what have I done with my life. It was like a contest; market yourself best in 3 minutes, your time starts now. I started telling them about myself (or what I could have remembered because I managed to pack in a lot of useless shit in my life) but was getting distracted because the editor was writing everything down in a notebook with a bloody PENCIL which was making a scratching sound. They called me twice, they made me wait for eons, the least they could have done was to print out my fucking cv.



Kher, among other things, I told them that I have monitored general parliamentary elections in a couple of countries as an international observer. In response, the editor asked why did I leave that job. I wanted to scream; “Hello! Election monitoring is NOT a job,” but I smiled and very patiently explained to him like you explain to a fairly dull five year old that its a gig that you get when you are extremely lucky and it is done voluntarily, no one makes any money out of it and while its all glorious and noble, you need to make money in order to live a decent life.



In addition, I mentioned all my writing experience and all my international publications and the editor goes, “But what about subbing. Have you ever done subbing?” For the uninitiated, sub editing in newspaper lingo is generally referred to as subbing. It is the most thankless and tedious job in the world and I have done it for quite some time and would not like to go back to it.

I told him that I have done it in the past. He then wanted to know what kind of subbing I have done so I told him about it all; I have done hard news, reports, features everything. He then wanted to know who did I report to in the newsroom, and when he failed to recall my old boss, he looked at me as if I was lying. Mercifully, the executive editor knew my former boss and intervened.



By that time, I gathered that the interview was not going anywhere so I mentioned that I also write a blog which does get some hits (a big thank you to all my readers). I told them that my work has repeatedly been reviewed by Press Trust of India and is published in numerous Indian newspapers and websites which I might add does not happen with a lot of writers of either new media or mainstream media, so if I join their newspaper, I will be bringing in my own readers from across the border and USA … and that’s where the internet based ads money is. I also told him to ask dawn.com’s editor about the number of hits my work has generated, how much it was linked and what is my google search value.



In response to my tirade – for someone who sucks at self promotion, my performance was Oscar worthy – he gave me a blank look and said, “But working in a newspaper and writing a blog are not the same.” I honestly did not know what to say to that and then he went on and on about my lack of subbing experience. As I was at the end of my tether, I said, “I don’t know how old do you think I am, but I am fairly experienced and I am NOT really looking for an entry level subbing position.” I was politely told that the interview was over and I will be notified soon. Six weeks later, I was sent an email which told me that I could not compete with other ‘more competent’ applicants.



For starters, I never applied for any job in their organization. They are the ones who called me so I was not competing for anything with anyone. As far as the level of competence is concerned, it was rich coming from a guy who is not even conversant with some of the people in politics and have made some serious mistakes in the past. If I recall correctly, he mixed up Mahmud Ali Durrani (former National Security Advisor) with Mohammed Ali Durrani

(PML – Q Senator and former minister) when he wrote a piece for Hindustan Times, a faux pas par excellence.



I guess I am fairly lucky that I was not competent enough to actually get that job, imagine what it would have done for my sanity.





(I know, it’s a fairly long personal rant).

Update:



Something pleasantly surprising just happened. The publisher of the aforementioned media house just called me to express deep regret for the way I was treated. To say that I was shocked would be putting it mildly. It was not only unexpected but also unprecedented. He said that he will ensure that incidents like this would not happen in future.

I thought if I can share my grief with everyone here, I should be decent enough to let people know that may be things are not that bad and some kind of professionalism is creeping in our beloved industry.

Thanks a lot Mr. Publisher; it was really nice of you.

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51 Comments

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  • Pretty pissing off experience, I must say! The worst part is when total dimwits who know nothing about their own work comment about your caliber. Disgusting. I have had some frustrating experiences with interviewers myself which I would share with you some day.

    Frankly, it is not worthy of working for such people but are all the guys this bad?

  • hey tez, who got the durranis mixed.. please tell me!! on gmail even?

  • Hmm .. I’m not sure who is more annoyed — you, with your experience with the idiot .. or the readers, who thought the title meant that you were back to being a journalist !

  • lol….i think i know what media entity this is!
    Wishin you all the best and i hope you relly get paid when people ask you about considering going back to journalism,….and may the entire world ask you 🙂

  • At least they didn’t say, ‘But how do we know you won’t get married and quit?’ Typical desi interview question for women…

  • It is a pretty long rant isn’t it ? 🙂 How about looking for a job across the border? The Indian media isn’t any better, but still maybe you find something you like.. Tehelka? (I’m serious!)

    P.S. I love your writing.. will you marry me?! 🙂

  • ‘Yay mediocre logon ka kaam hai,’ a Daily Times boss once told me in front of the entire newsroom. ‘Yahaan rehna hai to mediocre ban kay rahain’.

    Come on Tazeen you need to name some names here! :o)

  • insecure prick!

  • Tez,

    Next time in Pakustan, I will make it a point to fish-slap (clever Monty Python reference!) the Editor fellow around a bit… he NEEDS TO BE MADE TO KNOW BETTER! Ugh!

    -Zoobee

  • So ironic…. a person who clearly isn’t even worth getting hired by you as a ‘sub’!

  • Sounds like the only thing you were lacking was a massive pair of boobs and a mini skirt 😛 Misogynists!

  • As I was reading your post (first three paragraphs), I thought why didn’t you tell them about your blog and then you mentioned it in next few paragraphs.
    Seriously, a good employer can give you job by reading your blog. So many hits and then you mentioned about your write ups in PTI.
    Anyways, I wish you get the good job very soon. best of luck

  • Lol! Quite an experience 😀
    While the dumb newspaper guys didn’t really understand most of what you told them, your post sure revealed to me a lot of your qualifications – and I must say am impressed 😉

  • ummm….isnt it possible that you were indeed for real not as competent and qualified as some of the other babes, or dudes, they may have interviewed for the job?

    Your rant sounds more like a “sour grapes” story then anything else.

  • Deepak,

    But I do write fairly often here, do I need to be more productive?

    Sharpasand,

    You are entitled to your opinion, like i said, its a personal rant, I dont need to score point or convince people or argue sensibly.

  • Sharpasand: Sounds to me like you are, in fact, one of the babes/dudes who did get in. Guilty much?

  • @ anon 20 January 2010 15:35:
    hahaha… i didnt realise anyone at Daily Times was smart enough to come up with that comment.
    since you are anonymous, tell us who said it 🙂

  • What even is a ‘Newspaper’ anyway?

  • Tazeen,

    I don’t think you miss anything, who wants to work for idiots like them who does not understand the value of your skills.
    Wish you the best!

  • I’m always suspicious of “call-ins.” Too often they’re “we know who we want but we’ve been told we’ve got to talk to a range of candidates.” God could walk through the door and show them his c.v. and they’d still be hiring the person they first thought of.

  • hang in there…something great is right around the corner…yes i sound very Dr. Philish but i know it is 🙂

  • Bless you and your sanity! Honestly interviews can be one heck of a deal. I have not even completed my undergrad and I already feel like I have been through my share of these intimidating self proclaimed ‘interviews’. Wishing you all the luck for the search of your dream job! Don’t give u!

  • LOL! Tazeen, you know better things await.

    (And if nothing else, the offer to move to MI is always open. I am still baking cookies for breakfast! :-P)

  • Hi Tazeen,

    First of all, I want to tell you how much I like your blog. It’s crisp, informative and unique. I really wanted to come across a blog that is positively devoid of personal rants (I have no qualms about this one, for personal and professional reasons). Your blog is quite the fun one.

    About this rant: I’m a media/journalism student in Lahore and I don’t really know the ropes of how getting in is like, but this post has told me quite a bit.

    In your opinion, how exactly can I avoid a situation like this one? Is it really that bad out there? I’d appreciate help. 🙂

    Regards,
    Kasana

    P.S. The Durrani-mix up was just hilarious.

  • I think interviewing a candidate also calls for a certain set of skills. Not many people who end up interviewing candidates even know what to ask. Of course, the first requirement is to have the candidate’s CV….but the people you met did not even have that.

    Consider yourself lucky you’re not working with them!

    Cheers,

    Quirky Indian

  • lucky you!

  • They probbly hd their mind made up for the hot babe…..u could have given him a heads up on that dumbos interviewing skills.

    Atleast you won’t be working for that jerk

  • I am wondering which newspaper this lousy Editor is editing. I hope it is not on of “National” dailies.

  • Hi Tazeen,
    How do you define a “HOT BABE”? Is your art of rolling eyes did not evince interest in that editor!!!!!!!!!
    I think it is their loss anyway.But i think you and your friends must by now know that EDITORS are also POLITICAL APPOINTEES.

  • Poor Tez.. Sorry for that. Suck it up and move on. You should have known better. Its one of these experiences that we know are coming but we just let it continue. I am sure you already had a gut feeling that its not going anywhere yet you continued. When I was working for a sales company designing their processes flows, I learned one thing from them. The success rate of a client who starts with a wrong attitude is probably 5%. The sales agents have to decide right from the first phone call whether its worth going through the effort of serving that client who is 95% likely to fail than to look for a new one. Most successful agents looked for a new one. Anyway, I have been in such situations many times, I guess scream couple of times, curse those mofu’s few more times and move on. They are not worth it, they entire system is horrible and the world is a nasty place in general. Think about the majority of readers those newspapers are catering to. Your blog readers are probably not there intended readers and may be you are not some hot babe with a lambee chorre Safarish.. who the heck cares.. chao

  • hahaha I hate those interviews where you know the interviewer is much dumb than you 😛 all the excitement of working in that company under him or people like him went away like a rain in this winter 😛

  • haha, maybe the other person had a sifarish.

  • Reminds me of this monty python skit of a job interview.

  • You should apply for the Editors job…you would get it too.

  • How typical of our stupid MSM media…good applicants are over qualified and people are chosen based on their hawtness….weirdos..no wonder our newspapers look and reads like shit

  • Publisher is a smart businessman and also his greatness to apologize. But it shows Power of your BLOG.

  • I bow down to thee blogging goddess

    Bringing down a publisher to his knees, even if it is a small publisher is no mean feat …

  • hahahaha

    Extremely witty my friend … pencil scratching sounds and crazy interview … it should be part of funny film or something

  • Oh cool! In that case, I take the fish-slap thing back… bummer though! I was really looking forward to rain down some serious fish! Oh well…

    Good luck with your search Tez!

    -Zoobee

  • Even very huge businesses in Pakistan have not learnt yet how to leave a good impression on prospective employees during the screening and interviewing process. HR still sucks in Pakistan.

    The company I work for calls people atleast 5 times before hiring them and makes them wait for near an hour each time they are called. And the worst part is, they don’t even record the data properly. Sometimes the poor guys rejected after the 5-visits are called again as fresh candidates 🙂

  • Wow that has to be the most unprofessional interview I’ve ever heard of. But then again this is pakistan we’re talking about. This problem worthy of an editorial or a newspaper article or two.

  • If I guess, was it Express (English)

  • i must admitt…. you are a strong gal….

  • should you really be bashing a paper after you have agreed to write for it?

  • to the Anon above

    What newspaper, what did I agree to do? You are quite obviously an insider but are too much of a chicken to comment under your own name. For the record, I did not take any names.

  • interesting and a bit surprising… not the incident but the post script where you mentioned that someone actually called to apologize.
    PS: whatever happened to that hot babe you were COMPETING with? did she get the job? just curious!

  • Hi Tazeen,

    I am visiting your blog after a break of several weeks. I wish you good luck & success in all your endeavors. Take care!
    -Meher

  • Wow! Excellent rant. I am myself a journalist, who is wondering whether I want to really work in a newspaper ever again – considering what it has ‘done to my sanity’. My biggest issue with the newspaper industry is their timings. No editor is ever on time.

  • Hi Tazneen,

    I am a journalist from India… looking to change jobs.
    Attended an interview last week, which though not as weird as this, left me wondering what they thought about me. The interviewer was quiet. No questions.
    If that was an interview method, it flopped miserably. I ended up asking her more questions than she asked me.
    Fingers crossed though.
    Good luck with further interviews (if any).

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