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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The secret dilemma of women journalists revealed

Based on my personal conversations and observations, some people think being a journalist is an easy job. You see, some even pretend to accomplish journalists' work. And they're wrong. Dead wrong. There is a serious in-depth work achieved outside and inside newsrooms.

Can women journalists have the best of both worlds?
Staff writers and editors invest a significant amount of time and energy to bring out the best out of their work. Even though working as a journalist is fulfilling, it is still time-consuming. Someone, who wonders whether the gender may influence a journalist's work, may ask: Can women journalists have both a successful career and a family life?
My internships made me think otherwise. A day in the life of a reporter could be: to search for the latest scoop in unknown places. To receive assignments on random hours. To be rejected by strangers as they try to get some answers from them. To find the right words. To construct the right sentences. To take the right pictures. These are few facts that may exemplify the daily routine of a journalist. Unfortunately, this investment could come with a price: the potential loss of a 'normal' social life. 

At some point in a woman's life, a 'normal' social life would ideally include a family life with a husband and children, besides having a social life that includes some friends and acquaintances. This is unfortunately the dilemma many women journalists have to re-examine on a regular basis: to work towards a potential bright career in the field of journalism or to give up a family life?

Dealing with love would be the secret dilemma of single women journalists. Considering the comments of young women journalists from Cameroon, finding 'Mr.Right' who will be able to accept their long working hours and professional meetings with other (powerful) men is a difficult task. Partners become impatient and jealous over time, and the romantic relationships progressively deteriorate. 

The situation is partly due to social and cultural expectations. In Africa, women are not strongly discouraged to develop careers that will take away their time away from their social roles as daughters, life partners and/or mothers. They are not expected to be the breadwinners of the home either. 

For young and single women journalists aspiring to have a successful career, the choice is often difficult, rooted in their desire to have a successful career and their strong independent spirit. Plus, the competition is rough at work. There are not enough spots available for those wanting to join a newsroom. Further, one's performance is often evaluated on a daily basis. 

Which choice should women journalists make? There is certainly no black or white answer to this question. The hope is probably that one finds the right life partner who will support her in her career path, so she will not have to give up on her professional goals. 

No doubt, the journalism profession is enjoyable and rewarding. Every woman journalist, who desires to be successful, truly wants to be the best journalist she can be.

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