One Day you can get the newsroom of your Dreams
In this way, one day you can get the newsroom of your dreams, or, you can build your own newsroom. All these battles are part of being a journalist. Remember that your fight is against lies and injustice and the forces that promote lies and injustice are strong. It is dangerous to rein in the media in such immoral hands.
But what is a ray of hope is that the forces standing with truth and justice are stronger than them.
Raising voice for truth and justice in today’s India many people find it very ethical work. That’s because the problem is with them. The reason for this is either their questionable past, or the compulsion to maintain relations with the influential, or the concern of being ousted from the reputation they have built up in society. But you must have faith in the people who keep the basic principles of this profession, who made journalism sharp, factual and empowered. His intention was to make us incumbent accountable.
Not only to political power, but to all kinds of powerful people. If your work creates a sense of discomfort among people, then understand that your work has had an effect. In this profession, people will keep troubling you. There is an old saying: Make principles your role model rather than people.
As a result
As a result, if you are a journalist in today’s India, it is quite possible that your number of friends will be very limited compared to other professions. When I came to Delhi nineteen years ago or let’s say when I made my debut with ‘Caravan’ 11 years ago, I had many friends in Delhi at that time. But living in Delhi, as a journalist, you can do justice to only one thing at a time. You have to choose between your profession and your friends. Some of my friends got eaten up with great stories, some got book reviews. Relationships never remain the same and even if some friendships have to be sacrificed behind the principles, then it works.
If every story a reporter writes with a byline is scrutinized, an editor will have to be prepared to lose his friends with every story that is printed. Even if you do not agree with the writing of your correspondent every time. But some friendships may be transactional and the reaction to the printed report can be taken as a test of the loyalty of the person concerned. An editor cannot suppress a news just because his friend wants to suppress it.
it is better for journalists to make friends
Therefore, it is better for journalists to make friends outside the circle of power centers and people with social influence. The more narrow and open-minded people you make friends with, the more new things you will get to learn. It is very sad that I have seen very few journalists making friends outside their profession and social circle. I don’t mean to scare you here. But, it is also necessary to understand this aspect of your profession as a journalist.
Some people think that an editor is very powerful. But in a newsroom run on principles, the editor is not as powerful as people see it. In the English political satirical serial ‘Yes, Prime Minister’ this thing has been caught right.
The serial, Jim Hecker
In the serial, Jim Hecker, the fictional Prime Minister of Great Britain, is shocked to see the news of official secrecy in a newspaper. Similarly, In one scene, he invites the newspaper’s editor, Derrick Burnheim, to a dinner party to prank his hospitality. In the beginning, the conversation revolves round and round about unnecessary things. In this conversation, the editor is not talking much, due to which the Prime Minister’s annoyance starts increasing. Exhausted, he questions the editor directly.
“I want you to take that story back,” Hecker says.
Burnheim replies, “I don’t think I can do anything like that.”
“You absolutely can do that,” says Hecker. “You’re the editor after all, aren’t you?”
“Yes, but the editor is not like an army commander,” Burnheim tells the prime minister. “Rather he is like a ringmaster in a circus. I mean I can set the task, but I can’t tell the acrobats in which direction to jump.”
An editor can be completely helpless in the face of news coming on his merit in his own institution.
Another way of looking at the responsibility of an editor is that his/her credibility is always at stake before the people who work with him/her. In 2009, when I told a dear friend of mine in New York that I was returning to India to work for a magazine, he had only one piece of advice for me:
“Get ready to be called a bastard,” she said. Because the editor has to take such decisions which are related to methodology, editorial norms and administrative decisions. An editor is often seen as a bad person in the newsroom. The editor keeps harassing the personnel working under him all the time to stay on the deadline.
In this mess, sometimes he himself is unable to stick to his deadline. He has to wake up people in the middle of the night to get the reporter to work harder, re-enter the field, return to the source again and again, and even sometimes catch a flight or stick to deadlines. An editor may also be summoned to the boss when the owner wants to restrict the pace of a particular piece of news, or, cut down on the reporter’s travel expenses, which may affect his journalistic excellence.
But mostly the deputy editors and correspondents working at the desk become his enemies. In the eyes of many, the editor is a harasser, a cruel scoundrel, a bastard who gets forced. Therefore an editor should always be ready to go to his funeral pyre or grave with this tag.
Correspondents have their own quirks. Correspondent is one such creature, who has to face difficulties every step of the way in his professional life. A reporter may be subject to public ridicule or threats of physical assault from his own potential source. He can be kicked out of an office. I once heard a senior editor of a moneylender owner’s newspaper say that he does not like reporting because he does not like to call people. He didn’t even like to take notes. He belonged to a high caste aristocratic family.
I am increasingly convinced that if the elite are to do well in the profession of journalism, they need to seriously immerse themselves in this profession and unite their blood and sweat. They have to be always ready to be shown the way out by the source, to suffer humiliation or even worse treatment. And in this case people coming from outside the aristocracy don’t have as much tantrums. The elite youth will have to work extra hard to become a good reporter.
In conclusion, I would like to leave you with a few lines that I wrote in my notebook some time ago. Maybe they can help give you some vision. These lines I titled reporting:
A tongue moving like pen, paper, and scissors
questions asked, questions answered
Take every scene deep in the heart to see with the eyes
Not every word heard is a flat statement
Rather, to tell the truth by weighing every word heard.
If you’ve driven a spade, you’ll bet a reporter.
Because digging out the truth is reporting
If You’ve Ever had Disrespected You’ll Bet A Reporter
Because to put the hater in the dock is reporting
If you have done scavenging on your head then you will most likely be a reporter.
Because he turned himself into feces, manual scavenging is reporting
Reporting is a marriage between three – journalism, language and scholarship
In some, there is one dominant partner, in some, two and in others all three.
The difference is that there is no scope for divorce in this marriage.
Reporting is awesome.
Beauty – unseen – usually ugly
The pleasure lies in telling the real story of the good of all
Reporting is about being in sync with reality—no matter how bleak that reality may be
You don’t live in a fantasy world of dreams
There, you sleep with a boyfriend named Asliyat
You embrace time, character and tension
You hate the sweat, blood, and stupidity of reality
But your marriage happened with reality
Because someone had to take the mask off the face of reality
Reporting is the truth
And so the reporting is awesome.
(This essay is part of a speech giving at the 2019 Convocation of the Indian Institute of Journalism and New Media, Bangalore.)
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