When it comes to women role models in the media, we have plenty.
Shilpa Jain: As our primary mission is making young women financially independent, why is being financially independent important to you?
Rica Roy: While growing up I idolized my mother and saw how she juggled a career and personal needs, that included bringing me up. She used to tell me that it was important for her to be financially independent to give me the best of care and education. When I grew up, I felt the need to have a career not just for financial independence but to have an identity that would bring me respect. Many times, my courage on the path of financial independence was tested. Freedom can mean both good and bad. Making use of the freedom my parents gave me to create a unique identity for myself was not easy, but I desperately wanted an identity, and with that financial independence, and worked towards it.
SJ: Was a career in journalism by choice or by accident?
RR: A career in journalism for me was more destiny than planning. I am a first-generation journalist in my entire family and my parents, who had conventional careers, did not have the understanding of where this would lead me. It all started with me being a good writer/communicator. I got my first break as a writer as early as 13. Once established as a credible writer, I got a series of commissioned work from The Week, The Statesman, The Financial Express in my school years- between 13-17. However, a career in journalism was still a far cry. I did my Chemistry Honors and was well on the course for a career in Applied Chemistry when I got my first break with a TV News Channel (while still doing my graduation). Once that happened, my parents knew that it was my chemistry with ‘words’, and a hunger for current affairs/ sports that was leading me in a direction that was completely unplanned.
Journalism thus happened to me. It was five years later that I got a Chevening Scholarship (through FCO) to go to the Cardiff University in Wales/UK and study Broadcast Journalism. I learnt more on the field, on job, than in the classroom. But the classroom experience was important as it gave me templates to work with and use effectively for a better future in my field.
SJ: What are the various careers in journalism? Whilst we will run a series on the key careers with you over the month of May & June, a broad guideline will help
RR: Today’s media is very versatile, and one does not have to be a journalist to be a media person. In conventional journalism (where one follows a beat), one can report on TV, Print and Web. The jobs in TV are plenty – reporter, anchor, bulletin producer, cameraperson, researcher, sound recordist, graphics designer, online producer, online director, engineer, make-up artist, stylist. Similarly, in web, the jobs include – writer, producer, encoder, researcher, web designer, graphics designer, engineer etc.
Then there is Radio, Podcasting, Blogging, V-Logging as well.
SJ: How much of a role does passion play in a career in journalism?
RR: I guess there are two choices for a professional – be mediocre or be excellent. And that is true to any profession. Once you have decided your journey, it becomes easier. Mediocre people do manage to stay in the workforce. For the excellent ones, the journeys are difficult. The quest for excellence starts with passion. Journalism isn’t a profession that pays as highly as a few others, but ones who truly excel get paid according to their performance.
SJ: How do you advise young girls who wish to venture into this career stream? Any particular qualification needed?
RR: Studying Journalism or mass-communication is a conventional way to enter the field of journalism. But if you are passionate to be heard, read, you could start blogging, vlogging at any age. There are chances that you get noticed along the way for the good work that you do. There are chances that because of the communication skills you demonstrate online, post-college you have an easy entry into a media job. Media is very competitive because today so many more people are creating content. Content is the king and it all starts with an idea. Working on ideas by blogging, vlogging even before you enter a j-school, should give you a head start.
SJ: Do you think there is a gender bias in journalism? We understand that it is still male denominated. Is that correct?
RR: Yes, journalism, like most other professions, is male dominated. But there are organizations that are now consciously making an effort to strike the gender balance. However, the gender balance in Sports Journalism is still skewed. And there are many reasons for it.
SJ: As a natural consequence of the above, what are the challenges women face?
RR: The first challenge that I have faced as a reporter on the field and having to stay out for 12-14 hours is a lack of washrooms for women. That is, of course, besides many others such as not being taken seriously, male colleagues being preferred for important assignments, being told not to wear a skirt when getting to the Supreme Court for reporting etc. The challenges are unique for everyone and I guess it is passion for the work that helps one to overcome them.
SJ: Is blogging a good entry point to get into journalism?
RR: Blogging/Vlogging/Podcasting could be good entry points because with these one could make a mark if one has a great idea.
SJ: How financially rewarding is this career? When does one start making serious money?
RR: Well, if one dreams of becoming a billionaire, I would say it is tough… millionaire? Yes, it is possible. But as I mentioned previously, it isn’t one of the best paid professions. But for the ones with a creative bend, it can be highly rewarding (depending on the function one wishes to do).
SJ: How difficult or easy is it to get into journalism in visual media?
RR: It is as easy or as difficult getting into print or web journalism. One does not need to look a million bucks but should be presentable and should have a compelling way of telling the story. Again, it is connected to the person’s creative bend.
SJ: How challenging is it to break the glass ceiling for women in journalism?
RR: When one looks at the Indian media-scape today, there are many women in the position of power. Their journey to the peak hasn’t been easy, staying there may have been even more difficult. When it comes to women role models in the media, we have plenty. They have made the road easier for our generation. I am the first-generation Sports Broadcast Journalist in the country. I’ve had my unique challenges, but with every challenge has come an opportunity.
Rica Roy is a Deputy Editor with NDTV. She has spent 20 years in the newsroom and on ground as a reporter. She anchors Turning Point (a sports programme) and also news on NDTV 24×7. Considers herself blessed to question the authorities. She belongs to the first generation Of TV Sports Journalists in India. While her obsession is news, she passionately mentors budding sportswomen. Spends a lot of her free time in the parks, ranges, stadiums, spotting talents. Rica is also a media trainer who trains women in news and sports in India (on behalf of Australian Broadcasting Corporation and DFAT) and helps them get upto speed with the latest tech in the newsroom. She is passionate about transferring her skills to next generation of journalists and wants to mentor at least one girl to the Olympic podium. Rica is a Chevening and WINS scholar
Interviewed by –
Executive Director, Indusion Consulting Services (ex-banker, now a head-hunter)
Lead- Operations Aspire for Her Foundation
*This has been compiled along along with our ambassador Radhika Bajoria who is aspiring to get into this stream