October 24, 2009

Young Journos

I am grateful to you for kindling my interest in journalism.
But for you, I would not have had the exposure to this medium that I received.
Thank you very much for that!
Pranathi Diwakar’s e-mail could not have come at a better time. Or maybe, some young people just cannot forget the memories of one special November.
For it is in November that our newspapers dedicate some time and effort to encourage young people who wish to write for the newspapers we run.
Pranathi was a tad apologetic. For this Bala Vidya Mandir student had not contributed to us for a long time. There was a reason for this silence. She is in Class 12 now and being the Head Girl of the school calls for additional responsibility.
‘Between being buried in my books, and coping with the duties of a Head Girl, I have also been trying to decide what to do next at college. I am keeping my options open, but hope to eventually take up journalism.
Pranathi Diwakar attended one of the training programmes a few summers ago and went on to be an active reporter-writer through the year. And she made sure she contributed to the November specials too.
Though she limited herself to working on assignments in her backyard she kept to deadlines and we suppose this experience has done her well.
The November specials are now a tradition at our newspapers. Started over a decade ago as our Children’s Day dedication, the formats have taken on different avatars. We began by featuring all the contributions that children made in one or two issues. Later, we chose to publish them as and when the reports were filed.
We encourage senior school students to go around their neighbourhood and campuses, to locate news story ideas, develop them and file reports. I distinctly remember one contributor convincing a Police Inspector to grant him permission to accompany the local night patrol team. Those were the days when the state had not received the fancy Hyundai Accents and the rounds had to be done in rickety jeeps.
In recent times, the enthusiasm among students for such wonderful opportunities like working for the local newspaper has waned. Parents do not encourage their wards to subscribe to the experience - they are content to ensure that the kids stick to schoolwork.
Also, no attempt is made to encourage young people to explore, investigate, question, experience in their backyard which is rich with colourful people and active communities, varied developments and lively issues.
We can only create the space. You have to bring your pens and pads along.
November will be with us soon.

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