Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Factors affecting a reporting career...

In my earlier job, as a correspondent handling municipal corporation beat, my nonstop reporting on the civic body’s complete failure in waste disposal earned me a nick name – garbage correspondent. I loved being called so for it further endeared me to my colleagues and carried subtle recognition for my work. I reported administrative apathy, public anger and corruption related to garbage menace. I ran campaigns, analysis pieces and wrote about the effective waste management proposals turned down by the municipal authorities. Appreciation from colleagues and readers must have given me further motivation.

Yet, the continuous reporting on civic issues posed serious questions about my graduating to be a journalist effectively handling issues with wider socio-economic implications and addressing larger audience. Notwithstanding the call of duty, I constantly confronted the fear of ending up as a life-long ‘garbage correspondent’. I found myself increasingly out of place when, for example, the subprime crisis and the subsequent global economic recession were discussed. I found myself without the necessary tools to develop an understanding and to effectively analyze issues in relation to the larger economic matrix.

Fighting the fear of being pushed into the rut of routine reporting I found that keeping myself motivated was my biggest challenge. An equally worrying factor was the shrinking knowledge base as my personal reading and academic quests took a back seat.

Therefore, I was happy when I got an offer to join a financial daily and am now striving to be equal to the challenges offered by the new job. Obviously, from covering a municipal corporation to tracking the Indian automobile industry, the transition is not easy. After four months in a new place, a new organization and the hitherto unfamiliar domain of business journalism, I find that many challenges -- of getting familiarized with the environment and learning new things -- remain. The question is how far I am open to the demands of constant learning and of acquiring new skills.

Having been in journalism for four years, I sometimes saw my stories losing sheen in the absence of fresh insights. Other than on-the-job
exposure to new challenges, an opportunity for a focused training never happened to me yet and I often felt I had to rely more on
A refreshing approach to writing, story ideas and the subjects one is
pursuing are essential in this profession where consistency of
performance is a big challenge. I often go back to novels, popular
magazines and even to playing chess to keep up the creative and intellectual

(Different people may have different opinion on the same topic. And we can approach it from different view points - politically and apolitically. This is actually the second part of my entry for a journalism traning course which I mentioned earlier. It was written eight months ago. If I were to write on the same topic now, after a year in business journalism, things may change..)

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