Saturday, February 06, 2010

Lifestyles of the writer and reporter

With choices comes confusion. It's something little I learnt today. Even in this day and age, when options are aplenty and freedom even more, young people are still wondering what to do with their lives. 10 years back, when we started working, we were constantly battling with disapproval from parents and lack of real options. A graduation from a good university in the US that offered the perfect course was limited to browsing through the brochure that came for free.
But today, travelling abroad to study isn't an impossible dream. And yet, most dreams are jarred because there's too much candy in the jar.
I meet doctors, lawyers and even a politician once who'd said that they wanted to be writers. By writer, they meant journalist. They wanted to pen the truth - follow evidence and write something that would be read by thousands. They wanted to feel powerful from a very different perspective. Of course, none of them really could imagine a life with less money, officially at least. And scamming in the media is not really known unless you've crossed paths with a crooked journalist or two.
What however is relieving is that as younger journalists come into the picture, racketeering is slowing down. After all, how far can a con job really go?

I am not a qualified journalist. I did not go anywhere where theories were laid before me and I was to blindly follow them. Every single line I've written on print has been a lesson on the job. Words you can use or not, libel, plagiarism - it has been quite a process.
Feature writing, which is what I do, isn’t an easy job. You can’t just be a reporter and get away with it. What you need is an added qualification – you have to be a writer. You must know your words well and where to place them. And you must know how to formulate a story. It’s not that I have figured it all out but the path that takes you there can be quite interesting.
Writing, I believe, is innate. You cannot learn to become one. You can take millions of courses, which will make you clinically precise. But you will always lack the depth and connect if you weren’t born with it.
Then again, that’s what mainstream journalism is all about. Facts – the clearer the better. I am not sure how accurate fact checking in Indian media really is but it’s important to get your facts straight, even as a reporter.
Lifestyle journalism is on its way to glory. No longer (barring a few scrooges) does it get the narrowed eye look for old reporters who wonder why this particular beat even exists. And if you want to be part of any of the segments of lifestyle journalism – be it fashion, food, travel – you have to have your finger on the pulse of all activity. Read. There is no substitute for studying to keep abreast of what’s going on. International news portals are a great way to pick up trends, changes in writing styles and even for plain inspiration.
If you’re doing the same thing for a few years and continue to enjoy it with equal passion, you’re set. Just enjoy yourself and let the words flow.