Coping with journalism work woes


By Lekan Otufodunrin

Last Saturday, I read a facebook post by a journalist friend from Asia titled Work Woes that really shocked me.

I had to read the piece twice as I could not reconcile her lamentations with my perception of how well I thought she was doing on the job. We had met twice at two international conferences and from what I know about her she is indeed an accomplished journalist.

Some of the paragraphs that really got me thinking about how many colleagues may be hurting as they try hard to keep up amidst various personal and professional challenges without us knowing include the following:

“In May, I will hit 36. Thirty-six years doing what? I have no idea. I don’t think I have achieved anything substantial. All my friends seem to have moved on while I see that I might potentially be stuck in a rut. I have no skills apart from writing, reporting and editing.

“The exodus of great journalists from the media has left a rather deflated pool of newcomers and middle comers as I call them gasping for breath. I can do nothing but silently lament the type of stories papers and broadcast are churning out these days. I am in the mood to protest against my management but my voice goes unheard. I have no say. I would like to make my team’s life easier, motivate them in every way and goad them to do their best professionally but I sound like an empty gong.

“Where are the incentives? Employee protection? Labour welfare? I am fighting a losing battle. I can feel it in my bones that I am losing. My spark and my team is dying a little bit each day. These are my work woes. I am disconsolate. Maybe the new rules will work. Maybe they won’t. I had hoped 2020 would be a new start. How can I motivate my team when I am so low and powerless to bring about any changes?,” she wrote.

Like the writer, many journalists are going through all manner of work woes which they have never shared with us and would prefer to keep to themselves unless we are sensitive enough as true brothers and sisters to know they are not the same cheerful person we used to know.

The work environment in many media houses in Nigeria are not conducive. Most journalists are either not paid, paid poorly or paid irregularly despite the assignments they have to do.

As I read my friend’s post, the scripture that came to my mind was 1 Samuel 30: 6 But David encouraged himself in the Lord. Sounds easy, but I know it’s not.

David who had earlier been credited as slaying ten thousand suddenly found himself in a situation where he arrived Ziklag to find the city burnt, women, including his two wives and children taken captive.

David and the people with him wept until they had no more power to weep. He was further distressed when some of the aggrieved persons talked of stoning him. Yet, he had no choice but to trust in the almighty God who is able to make a way where there seems to be no way and eventually recovered all he lost.

When our work becomes overwhelming and the future appears bleak with the disruption of the industry we have no choice but to trust God to take control of our situation.

We cannot afford to lose hope. Like David, we must ask for wisdom from God who knows the end from the beginning about what do.

We have God’s assurances in the two scriptures below:

Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10

In Matthew 11: 28-30 our father in heaven says “Come to Me, all you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

Indeed He is able to do exceeding and abundantly, beyound what we can think or imagine.

Good enough, my friend who is Christian confirmed her faith in God despite her concerns as she ended her post determined to “pursue and overtake”

“ Life is a bitch sometimes. But I won’t cave in so easily. I am going to work hard and I am not going to see my team going down without a fight. My team is talented and hard-working. And if talent and hard work are rewarded they will be, one day. Whether I am there to see it or not. Fingers crossed.”

So help her and many other hurting journalists. Amen and Amen.