Thursday, 25 December 2014

Five Things That Will Happen in 2015

The year 2014 is almost over, and with it all the things that happened in the past year will be forgotten, as we enter a new dawn, filled with new possibilities.

Let us see, what are five things that will or can happen in 2015...

1. YouTube will be the new Television Set

We have already seen how YouTube has dominated the web world in 2014, when it started full-fledgedly live streaming major events around the world. Even if YouTube didn't live stream the Fifa World Cup 2014, don't worry it will the next time. I am already expecting the Oscars being live streamed followed by ICC World Cup 2015, etc.

YouTube or major live streaming networks across the globe have finally realised the importance of being there 'live' on the internet. People do not have time to sit at home and enjoy a show as much as they could five years back. Blame the busy work life but that is it. We are travelling long routes and it would be awesome if we could catch the live streaming of our favourite team's match on the move.

So yes, be it mobile or desktop or laptop, or your iPad, YouTube is the new Idiot Box.

2. Mobile users will slowly start taking over Desktop and Laptop users

Most of us spend 12 hours of our life in the office, in front of our desktops or laptops. After that, if we have to come back home and sit in front of the same machines for important personal work that needs to be attended, then it becomes really irritating.

Now imagine the cellphone in your palm, with which you can buy stuff, transfer money, book tickets, and even do PowerPoint (even if it hurts your eyes). That is the power of the palm, errr, the cellphone.

Gone are the days, when you would find people working with their heads inside their laptops, trying to put things together. You have the simple mobile system — be it your iPhone or iPad or a tablet — life has become too easy and comfortable because of these machines.

They are lite and easy to be carried.

If you are in website business, you would know how much mobile and tablets already dominate compared to desktops or laptops. For example, if I check my Google Analytics, 63 percent are desktops/laptops users and the rest 37 percent are mobile or tablet users. The 63 percent can be understood because, again, 12 hours of our life is spent in office, where I am guessing people are likely to use a desktop or laptop.

3. Twitter will become the new News Agency

According to Google, crowdsourcing is the process of obtaining needed services, ideas, or content by soliciting contributions from a large group of people, and especially from an online community, rather than from traditional employees or suppliers.

We are already in an age when journalists keep an eye on Twitter 24x7, like literally, 24x7. Breaking news like Osama bin Laden's death, Boston Marathon attack appeared on Twitter first rather than news channels. Journalists were seen using pictures, videos for their stories from Twitter. That is the power that Twitter holds right now.

The third season of The Newsroom also shows how the new management of ACN tries to implement the fact that in this digital age, Twitter and social media will rule the news circuit rather than news channels and newspapers.

What Twitter breaks now, news channels break 30 minutes later and newspapers, a day later.

4. News aggregation sites and mobile apps will take over individual news websites and apps

All of us have by now got used to Flipboard, Reddit and other news aggregation apps. Why would someone download numerous news channels or magazine apps, when one click can give access to various websites. Rather than going through 10 different sources, readers can click one app and check the news on their favourite and selected topics.

5. Marketing will be the new Editorial team

Marketing has always played a vital role in the running of the business. And now it will dominate how the way a newsroom work. Reporters will be made to work on the guidelines of marketers, who endlessly try to impress the advertisers and earn more money for the company. Terms like Journalism ethics are no more valid in this fast-paced, competitive world. The year 2014 saw the slow rise of marketing gimmicks; 2015 will be the year when the marketers fully take over the proceedings of the newsroom. Good or bad? Time will say (no hard feelings; that's how businesses run).

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.

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.

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Hypnophobia: Fear of sleeping

I am not a troubled person but one of my fears is the fear of sleeping alone or sleeping at night alone in the house.

This started almost a year back now. Once, I had called up few friends of mine and we were conversing about old house and my roommates said how seldom I am never at home at proper time. I only return home to sleep. Then all the stories how she saw supernatural stuff at my previous house came out.

Initially, I ignored but then I started having attacks that when am falling sleep someone is looking over me or someone will come and scare me when I am sleeping alone.

I shifted houses and yet the problem remains. So much I had taken up night shifts. I avoided being at home, when there were no one.

I stayed back at office, working and started sleeping in the morning.

My sleep pattern has gone for a toss now and I have no idea how to get over it.

People have their own lives and I cannot force them to stay at home. I took medical help and it hardly helped me. My doctor prescribed sleeping pills.

I took them initially and then all I did the whole day is sleep

So what is the solution, I ask?

If anyone knows, please feel free to help.

My physiotherapist says either face them or retreat and all I have been doing is the latter.

Now, I ask, what should I do?

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Life - A never-ending series of wars

Life is not so easy. As a kid, you want to grow as fast as you can, be someone. Moreover, when you do grow up, you want time to stop, halt and go back to a time when everything was simple. As adults, you are forced to make few decisions, which in the end are choices that you have made, and finally that defines you as a person.

Life is supposed to be a journey but for most, it is not. It is a series of numerous wars that you fight, some with known enemies and some with unknown. But, this is the life that you were born to face. Life itself is a war, one big war, that you want to close your eyes and give up to.

As a kid, you grow up to some dreams, ambitions. By the time, when you achieve them, you have many more lined up. But most of the time, it is not about the dreams, that you dream of. It is about living up to other's expectations, other's dreams. And at the end of the day, you are all but alone, and unfulfilled.

As a person, staying thousand miles away from her family, it has been somewhat easy for me. For my family, they never had any expectations from me apart from being happy and prosperous. It was the dreams that I had seen for myself. A never-ending series of wants and desires.

Imagine yourself, you are in a room. You have everything around you that a person needs (material). But are you really happy? You want to be alone as crowded rooms suffocate you. You want to be independent as you cannot see yourself living and adjusting to someone else's needs and wants. You are but what You want for YOURSELF.

Being alone and independent is nice but with it comes space, too much of space. Imagine, you alone in the space. You and only yourself. Will you survive?

Probably, you will. It is a choice you had made. The choice of working till late night, staying alone, not being dependent on someone financially and not expecting emotional support because you believe that makes you strong.

But does it really work?

Are you happy being alone?
When you need to scream, can you do it alone?

Life is but a war that nobody wants to be part of it, but one is born for it. One has to fight it, face it, kill the monster and embrace the truth that nothing in this world or life can satisfy us. We always need something. So being alone, doesn't help because no one can win a battle alone. Even Hercules needed his fellow mercenaries when he had to fight the Thracian wars, then who are we?

One cannot escape from a given situation. Wake up, embrace the life you have been given. Make two cups of coffee, share it with someone. Visualise your day ahead, with your friends, colleagues, family. Make someone happy, lead a team, overcome challenges, stop running away from reality, share your burden with someone, because when you do, you are lessening a bit of it, and slowly, most of it is gone. Try before it is too late.

Friday, 1 August 2014

We blog as we love to write

So last night (July 31, 2014, which was a Thursday), I lay back on my cousin's bed, staring at the bookshelf in front of us and wondering what is that I really wanted, like badly. The discussion between me and my sister was - which movie to watch. I wanted to watch a horror/thriller/sci-fi movie. She refused. Then we ended up watching Eric Clapton's live concert.

After the Clapton concert got over, we tried to find more music, just to kill time. Suddenly we found out all those music, which defined our childhood — The Eagles, Wham, Blue, Boyzone, Backstreet Boys, UB40, Brett Lee with Asha Bhonsle, etc.

It was during this few hours that I realised that all I ever wanted was to become a journalist. Also, over time, all I wanted to do is write, be the first one to write, write opinion pieces, be the first to inform people about an event, in short, literally be in the thick of things. I was transported to an era, when standing with the table lamp upright, on chilly February morning, in front of the mirror, and all I did was, act as if I am an actress who just won an Oscar, or sit on the table and read my history book loud, as if am some anchor.

Out of all these things, the one thing that made me really happy, always, was writing. It was because of writing, I got featured in India Today's article, it was because of writing a blog, that I got my first job (not really a job, but yeah!), it was because of writing that people started knowing me (or used to at that point of time.)

However, somehow that writing died, or more precisely, writing without the rationalities of mind, like @abhijitdg used to, disappeared. The blog became an unattended room, full of cobwebs. I had to revive it, but how? I did not know.

It was at this point, when I came across the idea of turning my blog into a website and hoping that it will inspire me. There were times, when I wanted to write, but I did not, as the template of my blog irked me. So I wanted a website, design it well, and write and write. Although, the idea of spending money, troubled me.

Will it be worthwhile?

On Thursday, I realised that it is not about turning the blog it into a website or, etc. It is about decorating the house that you live in, likewise, decorating the blog that you love, where you just want to write and let people come and read.

The rest will follow.

So this is my another attempt, of reviving my blog. I hope you guys will like the design. If there are any suggestions, please feel free to share.

And, yes, thank you in advance for visiting the blog, again.

With that, here you go, Richard Marx's Right Here Waiting For You :)