12 and a half rules to be a good journalist
12. DO WHAT YOU LOVE: Be passionate about what you choose to do. Remember: If there’s no love in the kitchen, there is no taste on the table. Never reject the impulses of your youth. Be responsible for your life, don’t blame others for what you become or don’t become.
11. WAKE UP ANGRY, AMBITIOUS: Get the fire in your belly to do something, set things right. Respond to injustice, inhumanity, corruption. Comfort the afflicted, afflict the comfortable. Don’t think it is somebody else’s job. Be the change you want to see.
10. DON’T BE THE LOYAL MEMBER OF ANY PARTY, GROUP, CLUB, NGO: Credibility is everything. Retain your independence, be skeptical not cynical. Don’t mortgage your integrity. It’s like virginity—once you lose it, you have lost it forever.
9. BE CATHOLIC OF WRITERS AND WRITING: Read newspapers, magazines, books across the board. Admire writers/writing irrespective of ideology. In the age of the internet, you have no excuses for your ignorance.
8. FIND YOURSELF A ROLE-MODEL/MENTOR: Have a hero or heroine who has been there, done that. Keep in touch with people who will help you achieve your aims. Meet at least one new person every day.
7. BE A THRIVER, NOT A SURVIVOR: Don’t coast along, don’t be afraid to try out something new. Aim high, dream, have an ambition, set yourself a goal. Take a risk, think big, think differently, don’t be predictable.
6. NEVER WORK WITH SUCCESS/ REWARD IN MIND: Work for fun and the satisfaction, the rewards will come on their own. Don’t fall for cheap praise and don’t be stalled by even cheaper criticism.
5. WRITE, DRAW, SHOOT, CREATE EVERY DAY: Eventually your habits become you. Practics makes you perfect. Develop the three Ds—discipline, dedication, determination—and reward and recognition will naturally follow.
4. KEEP LEARNING EVERY DAY: You cannot learn eerything in the classroom or the newsroom. It’s a constantly changing business, keep learning. Again, in the age of the internet, you have no excuse not to do so.
3. FEAR NOBODY, QUESTION EVERYTHING: You are in the business to get the answers. Don’t be in awe of big names, power, reputations, status. This business is all about meeting total strangers and asking them questions you wouldn’t ask your parents.
2. NEVER BE EMBARRASSED TO ASK STUPID QUESTIONS: There are no stupid questions, only dumb answers. Talk less, listen more. Be humble of your ignorance.
1. CHASE YOUR DREAM: Stop living for others, avoid temptation, life is not all about money. Let your reputation never be under question. It’s true—it’s possible to earn decently and live honourably as a journalist.
And this half-rule
If POSSIBLE MARRY OUTSIDE THE PROFESSION: There’s nothing more boring and dreadful than waking up with somebody who goes through the same pangs and pangas as you.
(With grateful acknowledgement to Dr Ramachandra Guha, the eminent historian and writer, who delivered the convocation at the Indian Institute of Journalism & New Media (IIJNM), two years ago, from which this piece has been adapted and expanded)