My Love Affair with Journalism

My Love Affair with Journalism

Personal Public Relations | Aabida Allaham

May 15, 2014

Making the switch from journalism to Public Relations was probably the toughest decision I ever had to make.

But I was burnt out and unhappy, and after going back and forth on the subject I just had to cut the cord.

It was of course, an emotional moment for me because I always felt that journalism was where I could make the greatest difference.

I told myself I belonged there, I was good at it. I loved it and I knew it loved me even though it rarely showed me. In the end though, my desire for a change of pace, financial security and quality time with husband won me over.

And yet, when I told most of my colleagues that I was made the switch, they all asked why – as if they didn’t know and wanted those very same things I mentioned.

But I understood how they must have felt; after all, I had felt the same way less than a year ago. In fact, for most of my short journalistic career I swore I would not go into public relations and looked at everyone who did as ‘sell outs’.

I even remember chastising Andy Johnson for leaving the media even after he offered me the very same reasons.

How silly right.

But when you sit down to really think about it, the best-case scenario for a good article in the newsroom was to hear “good job” from the editor. And maybe one or two emails thanking you for highlighting the issue, but that was it.

There was no real reward, at least none that I could take to the bank. The reward only existed in our mind and the belief that we were helping humanity be better informed.

So of course, I imagined that some of the articles I wrote swayed the views of readers – but really who the hell am I kidding, this is not the type of journalism in Trinidad and Tobago.

Which brings me back to the fact, that I don’t know a single person who works in a newsroom and doesn’t have his or her eyes fixed on the door.  Yes, it’s not everyone that wants to exit the field, but they sure as hell would like to be something other than what they are.

I will admit though, that it’s taking me a while to get used to my new job. I mess up almost daily and still question things like a reporter.  I hear how people miss seeing my byline, but believe me; no one misses it more than me.

I miss the rush, and the thrill and the excitement that happens every day in a newsroom. But I left news, and not because I didn’t love it enough, I left it because I loved it too much.

When you work in a newsroom, you wholeheartedly invest yourself in a story, at least until something bigger happens.  In fact, the only guarantee in any workday is probably that adrenaline rush. And even when the story isn’t the greatest, you’ve still got a deadline to contend with, and a finite amount of time to turn whatever you’ve got into a 300 to 400 words article that the man on the street would want to read.

After all, the paper has to sell.

On the flipside, you’re exhausted and you’re burnt out and even if you get the opportunity to rest, you’re never really “off.”

You wake up at 2 a.m. with a panic attack realising you’ve sent something to print and you misspelt a minister’s name, or you forgot some critical piece of information, or worst case, the company’s lawyer  is gonna need to defend you in the morning for writing that piece of crap.

You spend nights and weekends chipping away at those investigative or lifestyle pieces that you never have time to write on the clock. But you do it because you just want to prove yourself worthy and capable of doing things other than writing about unions protesting.

In journalism everyone works tremendously hard and for such little compensation but in the end, the results are perilous.

I’ve watched many talented reporters get worked to the bone. Cover a story until midnight and then get up early the next morning to cover a walkabout or a funeral.

I’ve watched their relationships crumble as they try to make peace with an industry that often considers family life a distant second-place to the crisis of the moment.

So some might think I had “sold out” and left a rewarding career as a journalist. But I do not see it that way. I still intend to – and want to – change people’s lives, just my title is different.

-Aabida Allaham