They’re so cold, these scholars! May lightning strike their food so that their mouths learn how to eat fire! Friedrich Nietzsche
I have been running a food and travel blog with my dear friend Amogh Tiwari and travel photographer girlfriend Snigdha Bhowmick along with a small team of 15 lovely peeps from three cities over the past two years. These two years have been a journey that I will not forget. I have learnt a ton of knowledge about food, travelling while being angry, law cases and man management. But one thing that has irked me a lot in the last two years is the sense of elitism I have felt from quite a few senior journalists and PR agencies, be it food or travel. It is quite unlike to the same sense of elitism that the Senior Consultants of my profession (read surgeons) do. Let me just elucidate the points that I feel work against this sense of elitism.
You were not born an expert.
Until and unless you are Abhimanyu (son of Arjun), you did not become an expert on food or travel right when you came out of your mother’s womb. Now, the biggest hatred we have noticed against either me, Amogh Snigdha or any of my teammates is our inclusion at the same event or table. It is pretty similar to the system of apartheid. It’s almost as if they are being asked to sit with the untouchables.
“How dare you seat us at a table shared by newbies” “Tum logo ko kaun bulaata hai” are the most common complaints that I have heard.
But my counter to this argument is that I have been blogging for two years and should not be seated at a table which has a greenhorn journalist. I have garnered a minuscule amount of knowledge in my limited experience as a food blogger but that journalist just out of college fares worse than me. So, why is that person being afforded a place at my table if I am not allowed one at yours.
But that is just me. I like sharing with the poor, underprivileged and downtrodden.
Who reads your shit?
Now the counter that lots of people gave regarding my earlier comment is that these new journalists are from established news agencies. A leading daily in India quotes it’s daily circulation at 3 million per day. But each of these newspapers has more than a 100 articles everyday. You seriously want to tell me that every one of these 3 million people are reading that article your newbie journalist wrote. I certainly don’t think so. With print media on its decline, it’s place being taken by bloggers and influencers. You are being shunted out and cannot digest that fact that your livelihoods are going to be taken over.
So in the end, the elitism basically translates to “How dare you encroach upon my territory?”. Well, I do dare. I do dare like Mandela did against the apartheid. Unlike you, I can show you statistics for each and every individual article I write instead of just covering it under the garb of my circulation.
Bloggers want freebies
Another claim that journalists make is that bloggers only do blogging for freebies. Well, fact check: Journalists are the biggest beggars I have seen in a long, long time. From asking for favours from agencies to haranguing for tickets at water parks, journalists beg, scream and threaten their way to freebies. This I feel is the biggest reason that journalists have a beef against doctors getting freebies. It’s almost as if they need to have a monopoly on getting freebies.
They no know English
Yes, I did not do my graduation in English, Journalism or Mass Communication. With the advent of the Grammar Nazi, journalists and PRs feel that let alone having any knowledge about food, bloggers can’t even conjure sentences properly. I totally attest to the fact. But enlighten me on the business angle of it. Is perfect English the reason behind your sales in tourism and hospitality?
Speaking of the excess knowledge the journalists pack in their heads, their interpretation of the medical sciences is abysmally stupid. Please, by all means still keep your focus on the bloggers.
My Dear PR agencies
I have great respect for the work that PR agencies and Public Relations executives do. Staying up late nights and taking calls on holidays, I have often felt they work harder than us surgeons. But it’s their complaining to said journalists about how bloggers try to befriend them for getting a free meal or trips is sickening. It is sickening to the core because it is not a personal request, it is purely professional. The only reason newbies do it is because they see their compatriots getting invited. They are just asking whereas obliging them is your prerogative. If it is so problematic to you, stop sending out those sweet little press notes demanding coverage. It is a business of give and take. Please do not sit around whining.
I have pitched to many places and haven’t been even afforded a reply. But I have had an invite from the same agency/hotel/Tourism board just a few days later. I truly enjoy the sheepish look on the faces when they try to cover up the reasons on why I wasn’t even given a reply earlier. It’s a business I know, but let’s stop being so coy and friendly over it.
In the end I would like to applaud all the experts in the field of food and travel for all the hard yards that they are putting in. But why is your expertise just limited to Indian shores? Why are none of the International experts considering you a part of their gang? Those are the questions I leave you to ponder with.
My simple advice would be to respect everyone. We may not know as much about food or travel or English or life in it’s entirety, but afford us the respect of humanity, you excessively intellectually powered experts. Lead on the newbies and show them the ropes instead of chastising them. Share and make the community larger instead of making it more smaller and an elitist group. That is what the Nazis did.
Disclaimer: I don’t write English too well as I majored in a different subject, General Surgery to be precise but this article will draw the ire of many a journalist, expert or PR agency. But essentially I don’t give a f**k. I don’t give a f**k about a glossed up world where you have forgotten that food and travel are just a part of life, not humanity itself.
A true expert might just take this article and bloggers as worthy opponents but expecting your behavior, you will chastise me. You might just ban me from a few events, trips or wine dinners but I can pretty much buy them with the number of sponsored posts I do on my blog nowadays. But here is the thing. If my band of brothers(Read again: Surgeons) decides to turn the tables on you, you will not survive. And that is not a thinly veiled threat.