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Do M'sian Parents Disapprove of "Low-Paying Online Writing Jobs"? We Ask 13 Writers.

Every now and again my dad gleefully comes up to me with an article open on his phone to point out the occasional missed typo or to gently mock something that I’ve written.

As a man who once gave up an engineering career to pursue a passion job in computer programming (a risky job back in his days), he’s very understanding of my situation and current job.

My mother, however, disapproves.

She has dreams of me working in a Fortune 500 company.

I was meant to climb the corporate ladder, eventually earn a lot of money and be taken care of in the future financially.

She doesn’t think that’s the case here as a writer.

But between my previous job of working in a startup to this one that’s even less stable (in her opinion), she’s concerned.

What even is online publishing? Is there a future for that?

She also doesn’t want me to get sued. It did not reassure her when my first article on Vulcan Post was politically inclined. She became worried for my safety.

She does seem to be warming up to it, occasionally chiming in when my relatives talk about my articles and giving backstory to some of the pieces that I got my dad to help with.

My parents driving me to Uni back when I had a normal hair colour.

So we wondered if other writers faced the same issues with their own parents.

Did parents question them about how writing is a “dead-end job”? That online publications will never be recognised or taken seriously?

This is not to mention the stereotype of writers having low pay, shared even with our print counterparts.

We reached out to some writers in other online publications and this is what they had to say.

Discover KL

Discover KL (our sister site that’s also under GRVTY Media) is a lifestyle publication that covers latest events, local news, festivals and anything exciting happening in KL. 

Gary Lee

Gary with his family.

“I started working for DKL since October 2016 as a full-time writer and videographer. At first, my parents didn’t know what I was doing as the course I studied was not related to writing. Nonetheless, they are pretty supportive since I am now not jobless.”

“Now I’m the one telling them about the foodie places or areas to bring their clients and customers to. Basically, I am a walking foodie encyclopedia,” said Gary.

Cilisos

Cilisos has resolved to add a dash of spice to “mundane things like news and current events”, making them both informative and entertaining. 

Iqbal Fatkhi – TahanUni

TahanUni is a subsidiary of Cilisos aimed toward university students.

Iqbal’s dad took his first selfie ever at a Bersih rally with his son.

Iqbal started in Cilisos in the January of 2017, but then moved to run TahanUni sometime in April. He was previously in investment finance, and before that, political research.

“Going from the first to the second and now to the third, as a writer just seemed like a natural next step.”

“It was slightly difficult to explain what exactly it was Cilisos does or what TahanUni would be doing, but they got the idea after they read my first two articles I got published.”

“Either way, they’ve always had my back and were pretty much, ‘Buat apa-apa kau suka je lah. Selagi kau happy’.” (Translation: Do whatever you like, as long as you’re happy.)

Chak – Cilisos

Image Credit: Malay Mail Online

According to Chak, “I was unemployed before that, so I reckon this is probably more stable. But yeah, journalism isn’t exactly known for earning big bucks. Thankfully, we weren’t brought up to care too much about money—as long as you’re comfortable with a clear conscience.”

“They’re actually really really proud. My mom shares my articles all the time, and strangely, her friends share them too. We actually get about 30,000 pensioners coming to CILISOS every month, so I gotta thank my parents for seeding us via Whatsapp,” Chak ended with a laugh.

Rojak Daily

Available in both English and Malay, Rojak Daily offers news about entertainment, lifestyle, culture and any other pieces of interest.

Unfortunately many of the team are still on holiday, so we couldn’t get a group shot.

Nicholas Chow

According to Nicholas, his parents said to him, “Hah! You finally got a job and you can start earning your own money.”

“But in all seriousness, they were pretty supportive,” said Nicholas. “They knew that writing was a passion of mine, so they were happy that I get to do what I love for a living.”

Badrul

“My dad said, ‘You’re lucky! Even if you’re lazy, you’re forced to learn new things every day. At your ‘age’, most people have stopped learning about new stuff!”

“And that’s why you can buy me and your mom the new iPhones and teach us how to use it! But next time, I want cash!”

So I guess that means Badrul’s parents are actually pretty ecstatic.

Azwa Rahman

“Both of my parents have returned to their creator, but I believe that they are proud of what I have become today. Oh, and my siblings have always been very supportive and kept saying that I should never quit my fun job!”

Jessica Chua

“My parents knew that I would never join them in the accounting line since I decided to enter the media industry six years ago, so they didn’t say much about me becoming a writer.”

“As long as I have a decent job that pays the bills. You know, typical Chinese parents. Haha!”

 

WORLD OF BUZZ

WORLD OF BUZZ is an urban English news site that writes about entertainment, life, tech and viral news.

The WORLD OF BUZZ team.

Ling Kwan

“As long as my job doesn’t involve anything illegal, they’re cool with it. In terms of the stability of the job, my parents let me deal with it, because I’m a big buffalo now. They let me decide what I want to do with my life.”

“They think my job is interesting but risky at times because some of our articles involve high profile individuals such as Najib and Rosmah. So I have to write the articles carefully and make sure all the facts are correct, otherwise, we’ll get into trouble for reporting on false news.”

Pui Fun

Pui Fun was freelancing on WOB before joining full-time as a writer in February. She was always interested in writing, so when she joined WOB, her parents weren’t surprised.

“I had to explain about the company and what it does to my family as it was quite a new concept to the older generation,” she told us.

“Of course, as parents, they are always worried about us no matter our age so while they supported my decision they did have some misgivings about the job’s stability and asked me many questions about the company’s background.”

Jolene Lee

Jolene has been with WOB for 9 months now.

“When I told my mum about my decision to work here, she was truly unsure for my sake. At that time, WOB was truly a fresh startup and I would have been part of the pioneering team. Whereas in other companies, I would have sufficient seniors to guide me in my job.”

“However, she saw the excitement in me and let me join anyways. But that didn’t stop her from worrying about me, my job and the company. She would often ask questions to see how things were going.”

“She doesn’t ask too much about my company anymore like how she used to. But I will update her every once in a while about new people joining or anything special that happened in the company.”

SAYS

SAYS is an online social news company that covers almost everything under the sun relating to Malaysia. 

Samantha Khor 

Samantha with her parents

Samantha Khor has been with SAYS since October 2014, to the initial dismay of her father who wanted her to get a job closer to home in Penang.

Samantha already had a job offer in line for an advertising firm in Penang but it was a job she didn’t care for.

“I rejected it, my dad wasn’t happy.”

“He spent a good few weeks trying to convince me not to take the job, but I was SURE this is the job for me… And now here we are.”

But Samantha’s dad finally came around to her decision. “He’s been telling me that he’s proud of what I’m doing in the past few years I’ve been here. I still don’t really know how to explain exactly what I do to my relatives (nor my parents, to be honest) but at least they’re aware that although I’m not specifically a journalist, I love what I do.”

Meanwhile, her mom is just chill.

Gowri Chitra 

Gowri with her mother.

Working as a content specialist for a little over a year now, Gowri’s experience didn’t fall too far from Samantha’s. Up until taking the SAYS job, Gowri had been jobhunting for a year, and her mother was frustrated.

The things is, Gowri was getting job offers, but kept turning them down.

“It was towards the end of 2015 when I got the offer from SAYS and I was pretty excited cause it finally felt like I found the right job for me.”

But her mother wanted her to take a job offer from Astro instead. Understandably, it sounded like the “safer” option.

After getting acquired by Media Prima, Gowri’s mom’s first question was, “Your job safe or not?”

But she’s okay with Gowri’s job now.

As it turns out, most of the parents didn’t have a problem.

And it does seem like there are more supportive parent voices than there are naysayers. This goes to show that perhaps, many among the Gen X-ers today have begun to embrace the influence of online media, even if some may not quite understand it.

But Gowri did have an interesting observation to make.

“I think it’s normal for our parents to be wary about us working as writers in the media industry. There are so many more types of jobs now compared to back in their day so it’s only natural for them to be confused and apprehensive.”

“At the end of the day, they’re just looking out for what’s best for us. So I think it’s important for us as kids to reassure our parents by showing them that our jobs aren’t as ‘dangerous’ as they think.”

Either that, or a brand new medium gaining popularity will mean that we’ll all be out of writing jobs in ten years time. Who knows?

We’ll just have to adapt to that possibility if it happens.

When it comes to my own mother, while I understand her concerns, I personally think that job satisfaction needs to trump cash. This was why I applied for the job in the first place.

It’s an ongoing argument, but I think I’m slowly winning her to my side.

Feature Image Credit: Fresh Off The Boat

 

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