Being a journalist during the 1980s, when there was no internet
By Ahmet Abdulaziz
Right now we all are so much used to the internet, that we cannot even think of a life without it. But people of my generation did spend a life without the internet. Sometimes when I look back, I really find it interesting to recall how I worked as a freelance journalist during the 1980s, without internet.
Now a newspaper office without the facility of internet, is something that cannot even be thought of. The new generation cannot even dream of any such situation. But journalists of the pre-internet era did work a lot and were at their best. The newspapers in those days were competing with each other, and were rushing to find a scoop to increase their sales. Even in those days, the journalists working in any newspaper, used to compete with each other to get a chance of getting their news published on the front or back page.
The newspapers and the journalists also now compete in the same way. Their goals are still the same, but their means to reach the needed information have changed a lot, on the better side. Now they find most of the needed information online. In our days it was not so. We used to consult Encyclopedias, old newspaper cuttings, old books, etc to build up the details of any topic. The journalists in those days had to literally run after every event, and incident. Although they still do have to do this, in most cases, they get most of the information through the internet.
I remember, frequently I had had to rush back to my office to write my article on the typewriter. Frequently it was difficult to find time to correct the typing mistakes since we all were facing a very strict time deadline. Mostly we were just rushing to type at our best speed.
Since I was working freelance, frequently I had had to rush to the newspaper office with my typed pages in hand, to see the editor. Making him accept my last moment stories used to be an additionally difficult task. The newspaper’s offices in those days in the city were mostly in one particular area. So it was rather easy for me to rush to another nearby newspaper office, after being refused by one. Unfortunately, physically, it was quite a big problem for me since I was living in a distant area of the city.
At times, I used to go to a nearby library to find some basic information about the topic in my mind and rushing to more than one library one after another, was also common. Usually my last stop had been the library of the newspaper office, where I could find the old newspapers, along with books. But being a freelance journalist, usually the newspapers were not providing me with the facility to use their typewriters. That had been an additional problem for me.
I remember, arranging for photographs also was a difficult issue. There were no digital cameras in those days. I was using my old Agfa, 12 snaps camera. Since I had to also arrange the developing and printing, I frequently rushed to the studio of my photographer friend. He had always been helpful to me. It was not so easy to cut the negative inside the darkroom, develop them and then print the photo but there was no other way out for me.
After finishing the typing and photographs, I would rush to the newspapers offices to get my article approved by the editor.
Now, I think most of these problems are no more. The journalists have digital cameras. They have the facilities to send their write-ups online. They have all facilities of getting information from innumerable sources available on the screen of their mobile phones.
However, I still wish I could go out and work as a freelance journalist, but the world seems to have changed a lot.