Thursday, March 18, 2010

You try being a journalist when...

For the last month, I've been trying to get back to my journalistic roots and write an article for a business magazine here in Amman called Venture. To make a long story short, it hasn't been going so well.

I might not be the best journalist/reporter in the world, but I've written many MANY articles in my time and talked to hundreds of sources. I know what I'm doing. I know how to call, when to call, how to talk to them, etc. However, it appears I haven't quite learned how to deal with the working eccentricities of most Jordanians.

For one thing, no one here, and I mean NO ONE, has voice mail. It's like it doesn't exist. You have to keep calling and calling and calling and calling. That or you text message. I have in fact sent several professional text messages asking about interviews or job opportunities for this very reason.

The second hurdle I'm having to overcome is the fact that I work until 2. And so does the whole of Jordan, apparently. A normal workdays seems to start at 10 a.m. and finish around 2 p.m. because I cannot for the life of me get anyone to answer their phones after 2 p.m. on a workday. A representative for a source today told me they usually left by 1:30 p.m. and that I would have to call before that. Having a full-time job (until 2 p.m.) is making freelancing in this country an absolute impossibility it seems.

The third, not completely unexpected, obstacle in the way of my writing a decent article is of course the language barrier. No one wants to speak to me in English. They all speak English, of course, at least the higher-up sources I'm trying to talk to, but they think it's easier to have me send multiple emails and annoy the crap out of them as opposed to talking with me on the phone for ten minutes. And meeting up? Ha! When would they have time for that?

In my last interview, which was indeed in person, the guy managed to misunderstand most of the questions I asked him, responding to the small part of my questions he was sure he understood. He finished the meeting by informing me that it was 3:30 p.m. on a Thursday (which is like America's Friday) and that he had to go home.

Needless to say, I missed my deadline.

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