If we’re honest with ourselves, any work we pursue will inevitably come with its challenges.
And if you choose to travel down the road of an ambitious young professional then it’s sure to come with even greater obstacles. So then why do it? Morne Esben, who has recently taken on the position of Morning News & Sport Anchor at Smile 90.4FM, offers some good advice that may just prove to be invaluable for any young person bold enough to journey down the road less traveled, whether in journalism or not.
More than just for the money
“After being in the media at KFM for ten years,” he begins. “What I have learned over the past ten years is that this is the sort of job, and by no means am I likening journalism to being a nurse, or being a policeman, or being a firefighter, but it’s similar in the sense that you don’t do this sort of thing for money. It’s not the sort of job that gets paid what a chartered accountant or a doctor would get paid, or what a lawyer would get paid.
This is the sort of job that you do for the craft and that you do for the love of it. It’s a cheap thrill that [journalists] get seeing our names on the byline of a newspaper. That’s all the gratification you need. When you drive home at night and you did a great voice piece on some story that you covered, and on the 7-o clock news you heard your voice being played. That’s the sort of thrill that you get out of it.” The sad truth for many in the professional sector, however, is that they base their worth as human beings on the paycheck that they receive at the end of the month.
This obviously refers to all forms of work, but when looking at a career in journalism which Esben is familiar with, he cautions every young person to make sure they’re not doing it for the money, but for the love of the craft. This is critical, because if there is no love for the job then what’s the point of doing it in the first place? There are more important reasons to work than just solely for the money. Or as Esben advises: “The value of the experiences that you get far outweighs the value of money that you get.”
The need for good journalists
Honing in on journalism and the current state that it’s in, Esben continues: “We always need more journalists in this industry. We need good journalists, because the changing trend that has been happening in the world is that celebrities, or former celebrities, or former sport stars, can easily become “journalists” and I say that in inverted commas because they are not trained journalists like we are. But they are people who are socialites, they are people who go out to events and because they have ten or twenty thousand Twitter followers they are considered to be a brand, they are considered to be someone who has influence and therefore someone that people may listen to.
So you find that sometimes those people become writers when they are actually just glorified bloggers, but they are called journalists because they have written up a piece that appeared in this newspaper or that appeared online. So those are the journalists that we see appearing these days which is a bit sad to me as a person who went through all the necessary training, all the ups and downs, all the knocks I had to go through.”
The purpose behind becoming a professional
“I think it is the greater plan for everyone’s life to become someone who is effective on the earth. Whether it’s through journalism, or whether it’s through the medical field, or whether it’s through law, I believe that your purpose is to become effective in that field so that you can make a difference or benefit mankind. I believe we are created to make an impact, not only to impact each other, not only to impact our immediate field, but the world if we want to.” Heartfelt words from a man who truly means them.
Any final pearls of wisdom from Mr. Morne Esben?
“Be the best you, you can be. If you’re a journalist, try and be the best journalist you can be. If you’re a doctor, try and be the best doctor you can be. If you’re a lawyer, try and be the best lawyer you can be. And all of that takes hard work, takes focus, but also don’t lose sight of the fun stuff. Don’t get so caught up in becoming the best that you don’t have a social life, that you can’t enjoy the sights and sounds around you. Make sure you have balance in your life.
Being focused means focusing on whatever you need to do, but then also just making sure you give some time to the people around you who want to see you succeed.”4