It is a matter of shame and contempt that in an age of candle marches and Facebook petitions about every single thing, we still live a backward philosophy. The idea of treating employees right, seems either too quaint or to modern to be acceptable to people in the media industry. Journalists – the breed of unconventional career choice-makers, seem to be among the  most exploited breed of employees. We are always taken for granted. First, we are grilled in the name of (unpaid) internships, then if anything is left within us, we get stipends worth 5-8000 INR after serving as free slaves for almost a year or two! Then, if by God’s grace and someone’s meherbani, we somehow managed to bag a position, it is not because we deserved it! NO-NO! It is because we were ehsanofied by someone.

Besides, if you happen to be young and new. It is the biggest crime. You are tagged as Juniors everywhere. It doesn’t matter if you work multiple folds more than the seniors.  In fact, I have had the misfortune of coming across all sorts of exploiters in the name of the Senior-Junior tag but fortunately I have also had the fortune of knowing how to give it back to them! But of course, it does take a toll on you. If I anchored for a national TV show, I had it in me, hence I did it. If I teach and multitask, I can do it, hence i do it. If I write and expect to get paid against it, it is not a crime. If you are exploiting me and I am not saying anything about it – I am not a fool! I just prefer not to indulge in a wasteful conversation.

I request people to learn to say NO and stop surrendering to such phonies. It is better to remain jobless if you have to than being exploited for the sake of it! Moreover, it is true that every cloud has a silver lining. There are good people out there who know how to play by the rules.

By Surabhi Pandey

Surabhi Pandey, a former Delhi Doordarshan presenter, is a journalist currently based in Singapore. She is the author of ‘Nascent Wings’ and ‘Saturated Agitation’ and has contributed to over 15 anthologies in English and Hindi in India and Singapore. She writes on topics related to lifestyle and travel and is an active reporter on the tech startup ecosystem in Southeast Asia. She is the editor and founder of The Vent Machine.

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