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Monday, June 4, 2012

For a journalist's wife, trouble and strife

It can be exciting to be a journalist.

But to be a journalist's wife?

To have to wait up till all odd hours for your husband to return from work? To know that he can be called out on duty even in the midst of celebrations for your anniversary or for your child's birthday? To have to attend office get-togethers where all your husband's colleagues insist on talking shop and boring you to tears?

That can't be much fun. And it isn't.

I was reminded of what it means to be a journalist's wife (I can't speak for journalists' husbands) when I read Stephen Manuel's heart-felt tribute to "our better halves" on JournalismPakistan.com.

Steve, who was my colleague at the Khaleej Times in Dubai many years ago, and who is now the chief editor of JournalismPakistan.com, which he co-founded, begins his post on journalist's wives with a humorous reference to an incident narrated by another Khaleej Times colleague, Asif Ullah Khan, who hails from Jaipur and who is now the editor of Brunei Times. Steve then gets to the crux of the issue:

Looking back now I realise just how hard those times were for us that worked on the night shift at the Khaleej Times and just how much harder it must have been on our wives. I can certainly recall mine waiting up till 3.30 am for me, heating my "late dinner" and giving me a good cup of tea. She didn't have to, but she did.

Night duty is not easy on a journalist's family, Steve writes.

They [the wives] have to take the kids to school, get in household supplies, take care of the utility bills, cook, and even put up patiently with the office stories their husbands bring home.

Spare a thought for journalist's wives, is Steve's fervent plea.

Read the post in its entirety here: "Dedicated to our better halves".

UPDATE (July 30, 2016): Does it help if both partners are journalists? Perhaps it does. Read this piece by NDTV reporter Saurabh Gupta who fell in love with, and married, his colleague, Shivangi Shukla Falling in love over a TV news bulletin.

6 comments:

  1. A lovely tribute Steve.

    We are all sailing — or sinking — in the same boat.I happen to be one of the more fortunate ones in that I left the graveyard shift long before I came to Dubai and long before I said "I do". But the privilege of day shifts didn't change what we journos like (love) to do. We talk talk shop, swill, smoke, gossip and bitch, and sit in judgment about people, places and things..... it comes with the territory, I guess. And yet, we are supposed to be the "truth warriors"! That's a LOL, right?
    The worst is when we called friends (read colleagues) home for a drink or two and the party stretches on long after the wife has hit the sack and some are as 'high' as the Empire State but still want more. The food the wife has lovingly made is wasted because the friends were already "wasted"!
    The next weekend would be same! The usual suspects, the same kind of session with the same ending but with a promise it would be the last. It never has. My wife too has been through this to the point when she now dreads it when colleagues were called over. It's shop talk till it's time to say "till we meet again"! And meet we do. Like the say, life goes on, long after the gossip and the bottle is gone!
    But all said and done, I wouldn't want to be in any other profession.
    And before I sign off, thank you Steve for the collection of those hilarious headline that you used to spot, cut and share and have us all in splits. Miss those days. Wonder what you did with those cuttings?

    Good to see you have moved way up the ladder.
    All the best mon ami,
    Patrick

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  2. Listen, aren't we going a little overboard. We aren't exactly on duty 24 hours a day, you know! And as for "waiting up" etc, what are we, a bunch of regressives, insisting on spouses "waiting up" till journalists get home at 3 a.m. Which itself is a bit of an exaggeration, if you ask me.
    I should know. I am journalist, I am spouse, and I have never felt I am on any kind of frontline. nd if your sposes insist on waiting up, their problem, surely!

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    Replies
    1. Nice argument sweetnlow. But this one is in praise of the wives who are not hacks like us. Mine never waited up if the "get-together" was at an unreasonable time. And neither would I get friends across at an unreasonable time. There were exceptions, of course. Both parties understood that.
      Women hold up half the sky and they are anything but regressives. In fact, left to me I'd rather have them run the show and I got a feeling the world will be a better place if they did.

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  3. As someone who has worked as a journalist and was also fortunate enough to be born into a family of journalists, I can relate to this on many levels.
    I still remember my granddad being called back to office in the middle of the night, the night Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated.
    Much like other journalist's wives, my grandmother pretty much ran the household herself. I've heard from my mother about how they barely used to see him, when they were growing up.
    But then again, they are very matter of fact about it. He was a journalist and it was just the nature of the job. It was never something to moan and whine about. And so, when I started off as a TV journalist, it was OK to hang up on my parents mid-sentence because they knew what it was like. ;)
    However, it was a different story with my friends who were not journalists and were not from a media/comms school background - so dealing with them was trouble and strife indeed :)

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  4. The gender normativity at play here is a bit problematic, no? The assumption is that "journalist" = male. I understand that the writer and the article is male and so on, but I guess we should at least be careful in the assumptions our words are carrying!

    As for the actual argument being made here, I speak as a female journalist, and I agree it can be troublesome to not have time for family. Nature of the job, like everyone else points out.

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  5. I hear you, Neha. Yes, I found it problematic, that is why I was constrained to write in my post that I can't speak for journalists' husbands.

    I have asked a few women journalists I know to comment on this post, but most of them told me they have no time. :-)

    By the way, "Sweetnlow", whose comment you can read above, is a respected editor of a Mumbai tabloid; Shweta was a TV journalist with CNN-IBN. Now you have responded. Thank you.

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