In love with black-and-white



Last weekend I found myself at the Alumni Association meet of the Department of Journalism at Nagpur University. They asked us to recall some of the memorable moments of our year and while I largely remembered the fun — I thought we had the most fun of all batches – and frolic of those days (including a meeting with the Prime Minister of India in New Delhi), what came back vividly to me was both the ignominy and triumph of a University-wide quiz contest that we had entered that year.

Ignominy, because as budding journalists four of the best minds in that batch did not know what, despite the Janet Cooke controversy, a Pulitzer Prize was awarded for. Triumph, because despite that ignorance we lifted the trophy that year, salvaging our pride and our futures.

Somehow, I was almost unfairly thrilled when students of the current batch, despite the knowledge explosion of recent years, did not know what the Pulitzer prize was all about, either. But like I told them then they need not worry. For two of the four of us who had attended that quiz have become reasonably successful journalists, one chose to become a scientist and is doing pretty well in his chosen field; sadly, though, the last of us (who had stood first) has simply disappeared.

But at the alumni meet and at the institute where I taught journalism a couple of years ago, I was glad to note the generational change in the pursuit of journalism. I recall how, whenever we were visited by eminent journalists, the one (and often the only) question we had for them was, “What is the scope in this country for women journalists?” And I am not surprised at our obsession. For in a class of 35, there were only six women students and none of our visiting lecturers were women, either. Which, decoded, simply meant that no woman had yet got to be a journalist worth her name until then!

I was given my first job almost reluctantly by my first editor who was also then the Head of the Department of Journalism at Nagpur University — and that, too, to stop the rival newspaper from publishing me, even as a free-lancer.  But in the quarter century since then, I am glad to see that there are more girls than boys at almost every institute I have lectured at (and there were more of them at the institute where I taught, as well).

I think much of it has to do with the explosion of television journalism and the safety of women at work in the field of newsgathering. While I was told by my first editor that I would be disappointed if I thought journalism would bring me fame and glamour rather than the drudgery, hard work and long nights it really involved, the changing face of India has ensured that all that is a thing of the past. Communication technology has cut the drudgery; long nights are a thing of the past except if you are on the desk; hard work, of course, is still mandatory but that is compensated by the instant fame and glamour of journalism today.

Most of my students at the institute where I taught a couple of years ago wanted to become television journalists and when I offered internships to them at The Hindustan Times, they wanted to intern with HT Cafe rather than the Metro section of the main newspaper. I remember one of them being turned down because, as the HT Cafe editor then told me, “She’s more interested in meeting Shahrukh Khan than writing for the newspaper. Journalism is a means, not an end, for her to get into Bollywood. ” And that was, by and large, representative of most of the students I have interacted with, girls or even boys.

What a far cry, I thought; from my own mentors who had stressed that the only kind of journalism worthy of its name was `development journalism’ (which meant reporting on what I called the OSD – the oppressed, the suppressed and the depressed!)  and that  a journalist should be more read than seen or heard. That was, of course, before the era of television journalism (there was only Doordarshan at the time, with just one news bulletin a day and only Chhaya Geet for entertainment). But what they then told me has somehow stayed with me and I am very glad, even today, to let my writing speak for me and itself.

When my students asked me if I never wanted to be a television journalist even now, I found it difficult to convince them about the intensity of the feeling I get when I see the words move on my computer screen and the excitement I still feel as I wait for my newspaper the next morning, to actually see it all in bold print; that just to see my byline on a story moves me more than to see my face on the television screen. Though I have taken to enjoy that as well of late — from the little I get to be an ‘expert commentator’ when the Shiv Sena or Raj Thackeray beat up people or Sharad Pawar plays cat-and-mouse with the Congress in his desire to be Prime Minister!

I guess it is a thing of the times and, caught between two generations as I am, one must surely change with the times or else one would be in danger of stagnation. But much as my bookish sister is eagerly awaiting the launch of Kindle in India and my students believe I am stupid to be so much in love with print, I continue to be excited by black and white. Always have. Always will.

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  • http://blogs.hindustantimes.com/expletive-deleted Kushal

    Lovely piece, Sujata.

    Why did you want to be a journalist, though? I’m always curious about that. I didn’t have any burning desire for journalism myself, it was just that I was good at English, and I’d tried advertising and didn’t like it, so I figured, why not give journalism a shot.

    Something about it appeals to my inner maverick, but what was the attraction for you?

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    Akhilesh Reply:

    “it was just that I was good at English…………so I figured, why not give journalism a shot.”

    Any positions vacant in HT for another journalist? :)

    [Reply]

    Sujata Anandan Reply:

    My reply to you was`moderated’ out, Bunny — so it happens to us as well as others who write in, much as they may abuse (and accuse) the bloggers of censoring them personally!

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  • Rajat

    Even most of my batchmates did their internships at HT city and Delhi Times whereas i always thought Horizons is the best to intern with.

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  • Uttkarsh Chaturvedi

    Well I have worked as an intern in both the streams Print as well as Electronic…My observation says print journalism has got more research and jornalism than in print because of the fact you dont have to really care about the VO’s anchour reads and the graphics and the visual of the story your main focuss relys on the story and the story itself.

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  • http://kennyv.ke.funpic.de/profile.php?mode=viewprofile&u=30516 Denver Gregerson

    Hey I love your style I will subscribe for your feed please keep posting!

    [Reply]

  • http://mooled.com/index.php/Widrastriec Dann Siegert

    You made tremendous great ideas here. I done a research on the subject and learnt most peoples will agree with your blog. In America today, medical practice firms have proliferated.

    [Reply]

  • Anil

    The fact of the matter is no kind of entity can perform in India as long as you got the wrong people pulling the string bihind.

    It’s like having an entity with the head of a dead horse and asking the hand, leg and mind to perform their duty in an excellent way.

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  • Anil

    Have not we heard when a Congress man/women speaks they say it’s a very “complex” matter as their best of the best of arguments? How you can expect simple matters in life who see everything complex? Upholding of law is complex, having a strong Lokpal is complex, fighting terrorists is complex, complex, complex, complex.

    Only way to simplify is to kick their back side as soon as one can put their
    legs on it.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001584766016 Syed Haroon Ahmad

    Dear sir ,
    I just want to clarify the 2G spectrum.The whole country is mistaken that the scam was about 176,645 crore (US$38.86 billion).But there were not scam of even a rupee.I will tell you why.

    When we make calls,it is has a frequency every telecom company had a frequency range.The Company which would hold more frequency will have better calls.The army had some frequency which were not used by them so our finance minister P.chidambaram decided to auction it for the welfare of the country.
    For the auction buyers are obviously needed but there were very less buyers, so our ex telecom minister A.Raja distributed many licence to telecom companies.The target which they decided was about 26000 crore.Then 26/11 took place and the finance minister was changed from P.chidambaram to Pranab mukherjee and much money was spent in 26/11.And our country needed money,then Pranab Mukherjee decided to increase the price of spectrum from 26000 crore to 200,000 crore which was totally unrealistic amount.Then the auction took place and spectrum was sold of around 24,000 crore, it was near the previous target set by ex finance minister P.chidambaram .

    When ever a government property is sold it’s the work of CAG to see whether the government property is sold to its price or not.Then the report was made by CAG and the minimum price which the had taken was the target decided by Pranab Mukherjee i.e.200,000 crore (it was unrealistic target).When they came to know that spectrum was sold of only 24,000 crore the margin left i.e. 176,000 crore was taken as a scam.

    If the spectrum would have sold of 200,000 crore then the telecom companies would be at a great loss and to recover from the loss they will obviously increase the call charges.We are making calls of 1 paisa per sec then if the telecom companies would have incremented the call charges to 1 rupee per sec or around it,which is very costly and impossible.

    All the misunderstandings had taken place just because of Pranab Mukherjee who had fix the price of spectrum unrealistically.

    I request Times Of India to publish this article in the upcoming news paper.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001584766016 Syed Haroon Ahmad

    The spectrum was totally free for government so how there was loss for the government.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/bhargesh.ved Bhargesh Ved

    Dear HT,

    You should not post mortem the brilliance of the show, be humble and learn something.
    The whole nation is learning its not such a bad ’show’ as you refer to it.
    SMJ’s and Aamirs heart and mind are in the right place. Their efforts are commendable.

    [Reply]

  • http://www.facebook.com/bhargesh.ved Bhargesh Ved

    Totally Agree :)
    Aamir isnt a show prop, hes a change agent

    [Reply]

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sumanth-Chandra/1291973406 Sumanth Chandra

    70% of dowry death cases are false. The law itself is wrongly defined. The law says, if any woman dies within 7 years of marriage, then it is dowry death. It is suicide of married men (not women) that is continuously rising (look at NCRB data). When men commit suicide due to false cases or torture by wife and in-laws, no arrests are made and no FIRs are registered.

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  • Abhijit Phadke

    Chetan, your article contains quite a few important points, but its written from the perspective of a person who has studied and delved deeper into the issue. Why not think about it from the layman’s perspective?
    Aamir’s show has a very diverse audience. There are many in our country who don’t even read the daily newspapers, and are not aware of what happens around them. This show creates awareness about issues and that’s very important.

    So even though the show may have been uninspiring for you because of being an insider who has knowledge about the issue, why not applaud it for being inspiring for those who knew nothing about the issue before the show was aired?

    I wrote a very detailed article on my blog which contains review, suggestions and the way ahead. Here’s the link to it.
    http://positiveindians.in/satyamev-jayate-review-suggestions-and-the-way-ahead/

    [Reply]

  • Bala Goli

    Completely agree, this dumb writer needs help.
    1. Very jealous 2. He had no clue what he was scribbling 3. Completely biased
    This is the first time i visited HT site and swear never to return back. May some commonsense be bestowed upon Chethan Chauhan. Chethan You are a classic example of a bad indian.

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  • VinaySingh

    uninspiring….is that the title you used for the blog. Can you open your eyes, nose and smell the coffee so as to say. Don’t you see the amount of responses and emotional outbursts various news reports (including this one) have had from the aam janta. If the show has not inspired anyone, there won’t be any emotional , strong feelings from people. So I don’t get your title. Did you get a degree in journalism? or did you plagiarize the exams and pass to get a bogus degree. What is it with you, or are you being the infamous desi crab?

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  • javed

    Unfortunately there is no option for giving -5 stars to this drivel of a blog.
    I could only tolerate half of it. He seems to belong to a breed of those grumpy people who have generally failed to do much but still don’t want to get off their high horse
    Get lost I say

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