It’s been fun, while it lasted

Posted: January 20, 2011 in Media
Tags: , ,

It’s been six years since I quit the print media and floundered into Information Technology, Corporate Communication and teaching – I don’t want to call it ‘academics’ because I don’t think I am qualified to call myself an ‘academic’.

But, recently, I returned to the scene of the crime (metaphorically speaking), which I had left in a state of disillusionment and boredom. And I was as excited as a schoolboy entering the school gates for the first time. I don’t think this could have come at a more opportune moment. So after six years, I guess I am back where I belong – this time as Managing Editor of two automobile magazines.

As for my teaching experience, the media student who endured my classes these past four years will be the best judge. I know there will always be those who thought I was an ordinary teacher and others who believed differently. And I have no issues with either point of view. I am a journalist and never claimed to be an academic. I took up teaching because I thought budding journos needed to know what the media was really like. So whatever I spoke in the classroom was what I had experienced in my career so far.

But coming to the nuances of journalism, editing, reporting and feature writing are still only about the basics. I taught the basics because that is the way I learnt it from my seniors. I learnt it the hard way – on the job. After the basics, it really depended on the practical knowledge the individual got – whether in-house, during internships or college projects – along the way. Then it’s up to the academics with their PGs and PhDs to show students the way.

There’s one thing, however, I’m sure of. I never, ever, glamourised the profession. I gave the kids the real picture – of the grime, cutthroat politics, tough working conditions, long working hours, low salaries, and most importantly, the low expectations. I remember one of the first lectures I gave at a media institute in the city, where I spoke about how difficult it had been as a journalist to make ends meet. The kids listening to me had stars in the eyes, and they all wanted to be M.J. Akbar, Vir Sanghvi, Barkha Dutt, Rajdeep Sardesai or Arnab Goswami. It was fun to watch their faces as I went about systematically ripping apart the facade of glamour they had come to associate the media with. At the end of the class, one kid stood up and said “Sir, you have completely demolished the image I had of journalists and journalism. I am not really sure now, if I want to get into it, at all.”

I am quite touched, when these same kids come up to me a year or so later and tell me that they are still pursuing journalism only because of what I had told them in my lectures. The thing is, I’d rather they see reality. I’d rather they develop the passion that makes a journalist and accept the warts and ulcers that come with it. I’d rather they understand that journalism is a job like none other.

So that’s that. For the next few months I’ll be dividing my time between managing the magazines and my teaching assignments. The company has graciously agreed to allow me to complete the semester. If all goes well (the eternal cynic!) with the magazines, my visits to media institutes will be restricted to the weekends or a few evenings, if at all.

To the institutions that allowed me to interact with their students, and to the students who thought I had made a difference to their lives and to their understanding of journalism…a big thank you, it was fun!

  1. Well, you’ve seen through since 3 years. I never had a starry image. But, well, I never wanted to get into the grind. But, you know I’ve stuck by with a lot of your support and pushing around.

    Also, I hope this is not a farewell note.

  2. shreya arroa says:

    sir,i am sure you are really happy about returning back to the field of your interest… but i hope we see you regularly because you have indeed made a difference to a lot of us and understanding journalism without you is IMPOSSIBLE….
    thanx for everything

  3. H V Kumar says:

    Variety is the spice of life. To teach, you have to be very bold. Switch backs mean even more boldness. Congrats for the new innings, we look forward to enjoy the 2 auto magazines that you will edit.

  4. Rashida says:

    It was a real pleasure just listening to what you had to say! I talk for myself here…but given an opportunity would like to have more lectures by you, for reasons same as yours – I would rather prepare for harsh realities now than step out after two years to a heartbreaking world.
    Thank you for everything.
    All the best for your future endeavors!

  5. Seema Khinnavar says:

    You didn’t teach us how to write or how to edit… you MADE us write and edit. I remember the first assignment you gave us, we had to write a 350 word article on pre 1947 history of journalism. My article was exact 350 words. and you gave me 5/10, I was SOO Disappointed! I asked you why only 5! and you said, “ok I’ll give you more marks if you want but will that help you?” I will NOT forget that line.
    I also remember standing nervously at the podium editing an article that was on the big screen. That was the first time I ever edited.


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