Thursday, 18 December 2014

Fight for love

Remember the night?

The night we fought like teenagers,
Running away from each other,
Snarling abuses at one another.
I remember that night.

When we didn't care about
What the world thought.
About what we are made of,
About all the things that went wrong,
About all the things that could go wrong.

Cause' we were fighting for something pure,
Fighting over something that we believed in.
Fighting for something that we dreamt of.
Fighting with convictions and assurance.

We were fighting for love.

The love that makes us whole,

The love that makes this night so bold.
The love that makes this world so gay,
The love that intoxicates.

We fight, over, for, with love.

Love that was scripted in our stars.

Saturday, 6 December 2014

It is time to stand beside our fallen, fellow journalists

In the first episode of The Newsroom of season three, there is a particular scene when ACN's Mackenzie McHale calls up producer Maggie Jordan in Boston, to confirm whether any arrests have been made in the bombing case.

Earlier, CNN reported that an arrest was made. However, Maggie stuck to the point that there was no confirmation of arrests being made. Minutes later, CNN retracted the news stating that no arrests were made in the Boston bombing. The ACN newsroom, which was earlier tense about not being able to be the first to break in the report, erupted in joy, as the staff starting applauding.

At this point, Charlie Skinner, ACN's executive and Director cuts short the party by saying, "Hey, what you doing? Worst moment in this guy's life and you cheering why? Because you think if someone gets in line in back of you it means the line moved? We still blew Genoa. And if there's anyone in the world who should be able to empathize with CNN right now, you would think that it would be the people in this room! Empathy! He got knocked down! We didn't get taller."

Why am I narrating this story? In the recent past, there have been occasions when journalists, be it digital, print, and electronic, have screwed up. Pictures have gone with wrong captions, sleazy comments have been passed on digital forum by reputed news organisations, so on and so forth. But, let us just think for once - Is it a crime to make mistakes?

We are human beings, and no matter how much we try to avoid, we will make mistakes in our life. The profession that we are in however demands that we don't. Very early in my career, I was told something by my editor, "Make a mistake, learn from it and don't repeat it." It was all those mistakes we had committed over the years, that made us into the near-perfect-yet-imperfect journalists.

Unfortunately, journalism is one profession in which if you make one mistake, the whole world will be laughing at you. It is not a funny scene. Have you ever imagined how would you feel if you were to stand in the middle of the road, and be laughed at by millions of people? Imagine, you ending up at a party and being mocked at. It is likely that you will end up becoming a recluse and honestly, negative publicity does not help the individual, the company only gains profit. The person who made the mistake has to suffer in the most unthinkable ways.

As fellow journalists, we at this point, need to support and stand up for those particular individuals, who tend to fall prey to public laughter and entertainment. For example, the Doordarshan anchor who was mocked, laughed, and criticised, recently came in public to say that she feels suicidal.

"My career has been ruined. I am so distressed I have not eaten in four days. My family approached the cyber crime department so the video was taken off but new people keep uploading it," she had earlier told TOI in an interview. (Text taken from Times of India)

"Of the smooth two-hour broadcast, only my mistakes have been posted. I have been successfully hosting corporate and entertainment shows since college."  (Text taken from Times of India)

Yes, it is true journalism is no-nut-job. It takes "balls" to stand out amidst blasting cannons, loud protestors, crazy fans and report about scenes from ground zero. However, that does not mean they cannot make mistakes.

Unless, fellow journalists stand beside their colleagues, inspite of which company he or she works for there will be cases such as Gary Webb.

Again, journalism is no-nut-job, especially with the kind of rivalry (be it Company A vs Company B, or in-house), and pressure of being the first to break a news and pressure of ratings and pageviews.

Monday, 24 November 2014

Desolate Wedlock

As she sat down to write, the clock showed 11:15 PM. Another day passed by. Behind her, the Television set was on, and the news anchor like every other day was shouting at the top of his voice, trying to prove a point. It was stopping her, distracting her from writing. She had already missed the deadline by a week. She could not afford to delay it any further.

She turned and said, "Can you please lower the volume of the television set. I have to finish this by tonight and submit it tomorrow."

And then she turned back, staring at the computer screen.

"I thought you are done with that," he said as he lowered the volume.

"I was supposed to; I could not. I had work at office."

"You ask me every day to lower the volume, I thought you are done with it for good."

"I will be if you let me finish it." There was a touch of frustration in her voice, as she tackled between the conversation and the manuscript. Her mind was wandering from one place to another, but not where it should have been.

He sensed that he should not have said anything. He shut the Television set and went and sat at the corner of the room. He lit up the penultimate cigarette and stared at her. He wondered whether he should approach and speak to her and assure her that things will be okay. But he was not sure whether things were okay.

A lot had changed in the last ten years. But he could not stay silent for long either. Lying on his grandfather's easy chair, he looked out of the window, keeping his eye contact away from her, and said, "You know that your publisher always gives you a grace period of one month? And you have only a chapter to finish. You could take some time off, may be take a weekend off and then come back and continue."

She felt good that he said something, but she was irritated that he interfered in her private world. When they decided to get married, these were the small things that they decided they won't do — interfere in each other's professional life, advice on work and career or even fashion. They loved the way they were since their teenage years.

However, being in love and being married were different.

"You know I can handle this stuff. I have been handling for a long time now. Besides, sitting on a chair, passing comments won't help me finish my work. It will distract me and delay the submission."

'I should not have said such stuff. I should not have spoken to him like that,' she thought.

Somewhat not taken aback or surprised by her reply, he got up, threw away the cigarette, and said, "Well, I should have known that I am speaking to a best-selling author and not my wife right now. Please continue. I shall call it a day, then... Oops night." And he walked away, into the other room.

She could not write anymore. Too many things had changed in the last ten years. Whatever may have been the reasons, they had changed, and it is not that they did not know that they had changed. However, what might have disturbed her is the fact, that they had decided no matter how deep and bad the situation would be between them, they would solve it. But, now they are like any other couple and her life is exactly turning into like the one's she write about, she is turning into one of her characters.

'Are the stories based on real-life incidents? Are they inspired from personal experiences? Do you look at your own life, when you write them?'

She remembered all the questions that the reporters would ask her. Probably this time, she would reply, 'Maybe yes, or maybe I have started turning into one of my characters.'

More stories from Perfect Series

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Five things about Workaholics

Over the years, I have been branded as a workaholic, even though I believe I am not. I just live my life differently. However, for the last few days, I have been thinking — what is it that makes workaholics different from non-workaholics. That is when I decided to go ahead and figure it out. I started observing people who were tagged workaholic — from politicians to creative artists. Finally, I came down to five things that I identified about workaholics. Following are the five things you need to know about workaholics, before you brand them one!

1) For them sleep is a waste of time — Honestly, I have seen a lot of them, who doesn't believe in the '7-8 hours of sleep' funda.

That doesn't mean they do not believe in sleeping. They do sleep but they have their own sweet time for that. They sleep when they are like 'okay coffee is not working and I need to sleep before I faint'. They can sleep anywhere! Sleep is like one of the things that you need to do to survive. It is no pleasure for them.

2) Work is a way for them to keep their mind from unwanted stuff — They just do not like being burdened with unwanted worldly thinking. They like the space they have created for themselves — their life, their food, their friends, their work and their LIFE. For most of them, work is a way of staying away from thoughts that depress people.

3) Family and relationships are just not their cuppa tea They find family values, principles, decorum too constraining for their dreams and desires. They do not have time for "okay we need to talk about what is happening between us" or "I need to tell you something."

They like living tension-free, and which means particularly, free from the obligations of a family and relationships. Work, for them, keeps them away from all such stuff. They can screw up their family and social life for work.Yes, they can.

4) Workaholics love challenges Their whole life is about challenges. Challenges are like oxygen for them.

They literally get excited about challenges, like orgasmic (okay, pun intended). They are very energetic, competitive and result-oriented people. You will never find a workaholic who is happy about 'oh! thank god I have no challenges in my life!'.

5) Workaholics do KNOW how to have fun at office — They are not hard workers but SMART workers. They will finish their work in time and you will find them having fun with some other colleague and suddenly detaching themselves from the situation to get back to work. They can have by themselves too. They know how to detach from a situation and get back to work on time.

They do everything smartly. They mix pleasure with work. After all, office is like home for them!

On a serious note, workaholics are those who love their work and go an extra mile to do some work. They infuse fun in their work. And, yes, it is very hard to stop them from being workaholics. It is better you give up and accept that you cannot change them.

Friday, 29 August 2014

5 tools which every digital journalist should use

Somewhere in 2011, it was revealed that Digital Media had overtaken Print Media and in the coming years, a lot of newspapers and magazines will vanish from the scene. Around 152 newspaper shutdown in 2011 around the world. Many more will shut if the management, the owners don't decide to move digital.

There has been a significant rise of the internet users over the years and, as a result, a lot of websites were launched. From serious news portals to fun and entertainment websites. An increase in the office and commuting internet users, saw traditional media change their strategies.

It has been three years that I have been a part of this digital world and it is a mad mad world. Even though, all you need is a computer to work. However, there are certain DIGITAL tools that journalists should know and must use, if they want to succeed.

Here are the five tools that each and every Digital Journalist should use —

1) Google Analytics

Each and every website survives on the traffic they make each and every month and Google Analytics is one of the two primary tools which reads the performance of the website. You can read how much traffic, the traffic sources, conversation rates, etc. It is a must! I mean it! You also get to see, how many concurrent users are there on your website.

2) Tweetdeck/Hootsuite/Social Media clients

Do you know how important social media is? Currently, Twitter is probably a journalist's favourite news source. But that's not all, a lot of news break on different social media platforms. There is Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, LinkedIN, etc. But how will you manage so many social accounts altogether? The pain of shifting between too many tabs is just unbearable. It is best if you have a social media client, like the Tweetdeck, Hootsuite or Seesmic. Best part, you have the client available for not only desktop but mobile too!

3) Google Trends 

The first thing a digital journalist should be taught is — We create content which the user want to read rather than create content what we want the user to read. For that, one has personal blogs. But how to find out what the user wants? What the user is discussing? Well, we have Google Trends for it! Google Trends helps us to understand what are the topics which are trending in the world, in your country, city, region.

4) Photoshop/Photoscape/Fotor/Pixlr/Image-editing softwares

I bet none of the websites can do without a photo-editing software. Just like it is essential to know how to use MS Office, it is a must that digital journalists know the basic Adobe Photoshop. Designed images, infographics, attract a lot of eyeballs. Facebook data analysis shows posts with images/pictures get more likes/comments/Click-throughs than simple text updates.

5) Caffeine 

Before I started writing this post, I asked one of my colleagues and my deputy-editor about the five essential tools they use each and every day. However, as I inched closer to the No 5, I realised I am missing most vital tool, which journalists need from morning to night to next morning. Caffeine - In the form of Coffee, Tea, soft drinks. When I told this to my Deputy Editor, he got up from his seat and shook his hand with me. Now you realise how important caffeine.

Honestly, there are many tools, and the preference of tools here in India is a lot different to that in US or Europe. But there are some basic tools, which is universal in all the newsrooms. For digital journos, Google is the lifeline and it's products.

P.S. I live on Google Analytics, Trends and Twitter. You guys should try to.

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