What working for a newspaper does to you

Published: March 17, 2013
SHARES
Email

My work defines me. It has begun permeating my personal space. DESIGN: ZAHRA PEER MOHAMMED

It has been over a year since I started editing stories for this newspaper. The job itself is not particularly complex: there are just a few things I need to keep in mind. A shoulder is not something people lean (or cry) on. And datelines have nothing to do with dates.

We use British spellings. It’s ‘realised’, not ‘realized’. I must use ‘that’ sparingly. I have to economise on words, as we believe that saying something succinctly is more effective than a verbose treatise that winds and unwinds its way to senselessness.

I sometimes fish for catchphrases.

I have been made to realise that space is precious. I have learnt to conserve. I have learnt to cast away needless details and learnt to stick to facts. I have whittled and cut, pared and abbreviated. I have learned to allocate space to what is important, and take from what is redundant. I picture news in columns and word counts.

I like to believe that I play a demigod, giving shape to raw history as it is recorded on our pages.

My work defines me. It has begun permeating my personal space. I am (modestly) skilled in the art of editing, so I have adapted by whittling away on the needless specifics of everyday life.

I work asynchronously with the rest of the world, so my social/leisure time has definite temporal dimensions. I have realised that I have too many friends. I cannot possibly entertain them all. I have started by cutting some out. I have a lot of ‘somebodys I used to know’ in my phonebook. I think that that is quite needless. I will edit it down to 100 people come Sunday.

I have realised I can no longer make time for that TV show I watch just because my girlfriend makes me. I have edited that out of my life. I started by sacrificing Saturday night get-togethers (they are too recurrent a feature in the Sisyphean nightmare that is my life), but have recently realised that weddings should go too. I visit funerals sparingly, because everyone dies eventually.

I have limited myself to two lede happenings a day. One is work; the other is keeping a spatiotemporally strained relationship working.

All the rest gets relegated to the margins of my existence.

Read more by Zain here.

Zain.Ahmed.Siddiqui

Zain Ahmed Siddiqui

A sub-editor on the Business desk at The Express Tribune.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Usama Zafar

    Can relate to every single word of it! Beautifully written!!Recommend

  • Syme

    Normally, I am very supportive. I am not a grammar nazi and a learned person like others but a poor post from a sub editor made my eyes bleed. Too much “I” and repetition of same thought, you lost the grip in second paragraph. Poor paragraph structure and too much reliance on MS word.
    Although, I admire your previous article however, you have used “that” is one sentence 3 in the previous article and 2 times in the recent one:) Well a little bit improvement.

    ..When I know that the calm that exists between this moment and the next may abruptly vanish at a single gesture of those that hold power over us.[sic]

    I must use ‘that’ sparingly. I have to economise on words, as we believe that saying something succinctly is more effective than a verbose treatise that winds and unwinds its way to senselessness.[sic]

    Still, I admire your effort and thoughts which you wanted to convey. Recommend

  • Raza

    ” I visit funerals sparingly, because everyone dies eventually.”

    This one was hilarious. Good to see that you’re enjoying your work Zain :). Recommend

  • http://syedaabidabokhari.wordpress.com The Only Normal Person Here.

    In a nutshell, earning is not an easy task.Recommend

  • PTImardan

    All the best to you.

    P.S
    Please, could you pass it on, that the readers would really appreciate if the Tribune does fewer stories about veena malik.Recommend

  • Parvez

    It looks like you have chosen to do whatever to yourself and have found an excuse in the newpaper to blame.
    You’re on the paper side I hope……….otherwise I’m in trouble :-)Recommend

  • Laila

    Love it! You should definitely write more!Recommend

  • Waqas

    “I have to economise on words, as we believe that saying something succinctly is more effective than a verbose treatise that winds and unwinds its way to senselessness.”
    Irony?Recommend

  • Jalal

    Excellent writing style.Recommend

  • sundus

    does working for a newspaper mean that you have to use thesaurus excessively?

    i have never come across an article in a newspaper that uses such fancy words, which makes it difficult for readers to comprehend what you are trying to say.Recommend

  • Faizan

    Is this your rationale for practicing social exclusivism? Sounds a tad elitist, don’t you think? Recommend

  • The Khan

    People who can’t cut it in other fields go to media industry.Recommend

  • Roti Girl

    @Syme:
    You seem to be a colleague of his, trying to competeRecommend

  • Umar

    ‘THAT’ made my eyes bleed. You need to work on sentence formation my friend :).Recommend

  • Atiya

    Fabulous writing! Each phrase creates the cramped feeling of being hunched at a desk, editing and economising (with an s). Kudos! :DRecommend

  • Tali-bin-Laden

    You need to take out time for prayers during your ‘so called’ busy work-life and routine. My advice:

    Namaaz parhiye… is se pehle ke aap ki namaaz parhi jaye!Recommend

  • Sane

    This is directionless piece. What writer does as sub editor, many do more than this (everyone thinks he/she is doing the most difficult job). But, keep, their family ties and relationship with Friends intact. Recommend