Category Archives: journalism

Being the change i want

Mahatma Gandhi had once said become the change you want. I decided this year that it will be 5 years since i’ve worked with DNA, my longest stint so far. This would be the final year if i’d be compelled to cut my cake. (I took off to the jungles to see tigers so was spared that public cake cutting embarassment). I’d decided i HAD to get a better, more paying job than at DNA. I had reached my maximum, had done well & want to do something more.

To achieve this i worked to believing that i HAD to change…i must. New look (new hair cut), new belief, assertion

Well, i have a strong belief after i once read years ago a comment fm a very senior journalist in the west. “After working for over 10 yrs in the industry and that too with ethics, all you get is a watch or clock…wc costs peanuts to the company.” So i kept this statement in my mind.

I would not stay more than 3 yrs on an average. I experimented, risked shuttling between different mediums & languages. I switched from Broadcast to print at a time i wanted to take stock of my career & self. I needed a grip on my health, life & the innane work i was doing. I was NEVER trained to be a ‘byte-taking’ journalist. But realised i didn’t fit in the current scheme of things. Wc was temporary, byte oriented.

My dear friend J was keen i switch to prove i still have the mettle. I am formidable journo that he knew of me….so he asked if i’d join DNA. i’d avoided the newspaper like hell. Some people i didn’t want to work with I wasn’t sure if i wanted the same daily nonsense. I wanted time to write good stories, do good investigative work & have some fun in the profession that i had CHOSEN…to work passionately.

SO the best kind of work i got to work for the weekend issue. Take a good responsible position & got that much of work too. I was given the free hand to do specials. It is not frequently that a journalist gets a byline in the launch issue and i got it! Besides got a front page byline for 3 consecutive issues from launch. So i’ve actually achieved all that a journalist can dream of!

Got to do some really good specials, cover stories. Moreover had editors who pushed me took pleasure in pushing myself, increasing my benchmark & most of all stood by me…they showed faith in me. They heard me out if i said there was some story or news wc needed to be highlighted. They also wanted the best from their staff.

times they r a changin’ as Louis Amstrong sang….now its time to leave a place where many of us had big dreams for DNA. They instilled faith in us & made us believe we will be doing something different. We would create a newsy new paper. Well we weren’t off target. But we made mistakes, of hiring, constant change, confusion with whats news or not, presuming on behalf of our reader, constantly sending mixed signals. Besides constantly changing bosses…that is a trend wc this organisation management needs to get rid off. This is a menace wc has caused more harm than good.

Now that was NEVER part of my package deal or contract that i will be compelled to adjust to a new boss every 6 months. TO re-prove myself, talent, news sense. NO. Sorry bosses who have their own favourites, likes dislikes, yes boss types. I must’ve NOT liked most of those bosses but my commitment to my job was never less than 100%. But there is a limit. A point of “this is it….can’t take more…” that’s where i reached.

But instead of getting into the negativity i decided to make the changes within. Im glad i did it. went to the jungles, saw tigress who sealed my decision to quit! “If its tiger, its change,” said Jaideep my pal… & I quit where ever the paths take me i will go….

Looks, adustment & NO skills -the need of the hour

These are times for thinking why is it that when ur a true professional- who do their work efficiently, competitively & doesn’t play politics pose a problem to the individual?

I’m NOT exaggerating. If we assess the journalism field in India there was a time that ONLY writing skills, tenacity of an individual to survive & network of contacts for stories qualified for being competitive in this field.

One’s articles reflected whether the reporter has done resaerch, got credible talking heads that corroborate & confirm the news. We took everything in our stride –nasty seniors, NO by-line for months on…tough stories, little cooperation from colleagues & seniors. But there was true worth of one’s reporting skills & intelligence.

More so, there was NO emphasis on dressing down. It was considered inappropriate to expose or clothes that showed one’s skin. Especially for interviews of top CEOs, politicians & police officers, it was unwise to wear any of the above listed.

I was always too chilled & rather dressed like an extension of my college days. Thanks to my baba’s (father’s) pressure that i shouldn’t spend much time looking in the mirror-which I loved in my teen days. In college I rebelled, Kept short hair, lived in jeans & t-shirts, shirts which were mainly checks. I extended this attire in a more sophisticated manner to work.

Times have changed they say. Few years ago in a tv channel I was told pants-shirts or good tops and short hair made look boyish & put off many seniors coz they wanted to see me as a ‘lady!’ The complaint that wasn’t voiced was, I deprived the men of visual pleasure.

Today, media has undergone a change. The emphasis is only on visual pleasure. The less u dress the more one appeals to one’s bosses, which entials more success will come one’s way. Today journalists are hired for their looks-this is NOT the criteria for tv journos only, even for print. Going by few HR heads, who need total image makeover, grooming consultancy themselves-told few women candidates they need to appear more ‘attractive. ‘

This is ludicrious. If a lady accomodates this much, she can go all the way, which i am sure the bosses will like, but isn’t it true an environment is being created to push the woman. The fact that a woman plays herself to the hilt is more than enough. Simply the news organisations want least talented, smart but NOT intelligent & definitely not those who have a spine to say NO. Least on priority is their qualification or journalistic skills.

Sadly, the young ones do nto realise they are being used as pawns. Organisations do NOT want to pay, its cheaper to hire youngsters. The qualifications, skills & experience of older journos is more than required today. However today’s culture is very corporate in news organisations. Sit in ur place, look busy, dial-a-quote & collate everything. Table top stories. No writing skills are needed. There is no need to belong to a particular city even if they have little or NO information of that city, the requirement is to put together stories. The dependence on google, is like its a bible of the gen x. The emphasis on contacts, people, is soon disappearing.

The seniors have demands- I can talk for myself – I want space & creative freedom. I will NOT do something for the sake of doing, especially if it goes agianst my ethics & values. I will also stand up & speak against a story/idea if I feel its NOT worth doing. Now this is NOT politically correct. But I am from a gen that NEVER believed in being politically correct-they were the minorities of our time-today political correctness & accomodating attitude is a given thing. Organisations will obviously opt for those who are of least trouble with giving lesser amounts of money & more visual pleasure!

Journalist's tales…..

when i joined journalism i had absolutely insane, cynical & rude (mildly put) seniors who imbibed a certain spirit in us, made us sit up & think abt our profession, that we MUST have a certain discipline, passion & COMMITMENT -altho’ many among them did NOT possess it is another issue…

We were put through gruelling times & believe me it was UNFAIR…seniors who ridiculed our ideas but passed them onto someone else in a jiffy! Seniors who rubbished our ideas & few months later we’d see someone else’s by line to the same story suggested!! worse still seniors who said our stories were worth trashing & would carry the same day wt their own bylines!! Yet, these very seniors taught us a lot thru’ their example & otherwise.

Some rare good ones were confident of themselves, tore our copies and made us re-write in simple conversational language…made us unlearn all that we’d learnt. Some even led by example. We could discuss the world wt them without having to fear ridicule. They taught us to produce a ‘dhasu’ story! They helped us smell news that’s likely to become BIG….

Even today if there’s anything that makes me smile sincerely, is when i get a dhasu story, covered wt the same amount of passion that I had began my career with. Today i’m a dinosaur!!! Old & forgotten species..Yes in the day new era of news people like me are nearly forgotten.

Today-spare me if a sound like an old Parsi aunty-(wc i’m proud if i do sound), MOST news organisations are hiring young, just-out-of-college kids, anorexic, who wear minimal clothes wt shakal but NOT necessarily akkal. Many who are abso immature & to top all they are in journalism for MONEY & QUICK FAME…what quality of news are we going to expect? They are asked to bring bytes & stories are made like desk-top pieces in the studios.

There was a sonic boom- a ball of fire wt a loud sound- airforce exercise wc was to take place across the seas but mistakenly was conducted across the residential areas of Karjat in October 2oo4. News telecasted- one channel said a Plane crashed & later at least apologised. A leading Hindi news channel said one plane crashed into three pieces but NO clue of the passengers. The sabse tez said they sighted an UFO!! Yes…then for 3 days the channels forgot all abt this news. No astronaut, scientist or minister saying anything. It was later confirmed that it was a sonic boom!

One more black day was when the Mah CM was to be declared, the news reporters fm channels were in their rush to get exclusive news first. so they prepared the son-in-law of the former CM (now central power min) as their main source!! I was moving b/w the State assembly, Cong & NCP office. By afternoon i was informed by my friends in Cong & NCP that Vilasrao had signatures of 47 MLAs & he had staked claim to become the CM else he would cause rebellion.

It was the BLACKEST day for TV news. Sabse tez went abt giving detailed report & live phone-ins abt how Sushilkumar Shinde had become the CM…i was in NCP when my friend fm Star news called & asked how come my favourite bet had lost the chance …I told him he had wrong info. NDTV ran similar news but thks to Rajdeep he pulled up the local bureau head (famous crime reporter) & they actually apologised. He ridiculed that their source was son-in-law of shinde since he proved to be very stupid & dumb! pranab mukherjee had filled in rajdeep wt all the details….. others forgot all about apologising.

Recently again sab se tez declared that the living deputy chairman of state legislative council had died-vasant davkhare-when the person who died was NCP min vasant chavan.

More recently when Mahajan was shot by his brother channels ran a breaking news that he moved his eyes & fingers!!

Sadly whatever may b the case I don’t hear many complaining….