Sunday, January 17, 2010

Take it in a sporting way

Once I met a person days back who used to work in a national news channel and when he told me that he works in the news industry, I promptly replied “Never saw you on the channel, what do you do then”. That was my perception about the news a month before I joined IBN 7 as an intern. Even if I go to my home town and I tell people that I am doing a course of mass communication and I intend to be a journalist the first question they shoot on me is “to kab dikhoge TV par “ (when are we going to watch you on television), therefore I believe that it is a general perception too. When I entered the internship, if any perception of mine which has shattered into pieces is that there is much more to journalism than well dressed faces in the studio and running correspondents i.e. there is much more to journalism than on-screen presentation.
The day I entered the IBN office my eyeballs were rolling finding those only well-dressed people who were the sole contributors of the journalism industry to me till then. But slowly I realised that it’s a team effort which makes a story work. I was assigned a job at the Sports Desk and I must say that I was fortunate enough that in my one month of the world of sports witnessed a lot of newsworthy events including The Kotla Incident , Hockey Crisis , Bindra and NRAI incident , Shiv Sena vs Australian Players , and a lots of cricketing action with India playing Lanka twice and Bangladesh , Australia vs Pakistan , South Africa vs England and a nail biting Karnatka vs Mumbai Ranji Final. Every event I witnessed was an amazing experience for me to learn news aspects of journalism.
I always thought of the fact that how can the sports journalists show us the whole match report as soon as the match gets over with all the visual shots edited and graphics in place with the score card . Then I came to know that as the match progresses the match report progresses and it happens after every 15 min or half an hour till the whole match gets over and the graphics and score card also gets updated till the last moment . Mind you it’s quite a tough job and a lot of prediction also works in the field. You can be sure that if an accident has taken place in some part of the country you can make a story on it as there is no possibility that during your programme those dead will come alive and your whole story will go waste. But if you have to do a story on the match between the two teams and specially when India is one of the sides then it will get at least a 15-20 min coverage as soon as the match gets over you can never really trust which side is going to make the mark specially the one which goes down till the last ball and and prepare the story accordingly .You have to have a plan B if something unexpected happens .And that needs quick responses you have to be quick if you are covering the sports industry unless you cannot deliver the stuff on-time or will do a messed up report with no content in it

I went on three on field shoots from where I actually learned a lot and I believe that each of those outings was a great learning from your side. My first shoot was a Christmas celebration of commonwealth games where I was just supposed to place my mike when every other reporter is doing the same but I never knew when would they do so , my second internship was a press conference where Gautam Gambhir was being attached to Royal Stag ,well that was a big moment I was nervous I think it had to happen the first time you go to an Press Conference after a lot of mind buckling I got a question to ask him but in the process of preparing myself to ask it from him I did a big mistake that I never heard what others were asking , I also got scolded for it but I believe that it was good that it happened in an internship not in a job and I went their make mistakes and learn out of them. I remember how difficult it was for me pronouncing the full name Gautam in front of other senior journalist and I almost stopped 5 times at Gau and could complete my statement before that anyone else would have had shot a question on him.
After this blunder I desperately wanted another chance to prove myself that it was just that first time excitement that I made a mistake and I am capable of doing much more than that and I got that chance in the last days of my internship when I went to take a bite of Manoj Prabhakar and I almost was successful to get a one on one tik tak with him after the press conference was over but I almost got each and every of my query answered in the conference itself and this time I was also aware of what had happened.
One of my biggest learning experiences was when the match at the Kotla Ground was abandoned between India and Sri Lanka due to the fact that the pitch was declared unfit. It was a cold and foggy morning in Delhi and everything in the office was moving smoothly as everyone was busy dealing with Ruchika and the injustice by SPS Rathore , Sri Lanka was batting poorly and all the batsmen were struggling to get there Bat between bowl and their body and suddenly the fourth ball of Sudeep Tyagi’s Over jumped unexpectedly high , and the Srilankan Captain Sangkarra made a gesture to stop the match and from then the silence of the news room turned into a market cry. Then I came to know that what actually is breaking news and how is it being covered. Live phone-ins, chats from the studio to the roof top everybody was busy looking what can exactly be added into the story, all those bad balls were taken from the match and being shown on the TV screen regularly.
Now here is where smart minds come into action , the sports editor Abhishek Dubey , a bit-fat looking guy with a mixture of grey and white hairs often in mess , carries a weird and confused look on his face , managed a copy of the ICC Pitch Report about Kotla on 4th Dec around 20 days ago from the match which clearly said that the pitch needs a lot of work to be done .Now this is what created the exclusive content for the channel , all the news channels were found presenting the same report a day after IBN 7 and that what I would refer as a smart move.

Even the Hockey Crisis was also an amazing experience for me to learn in which the press conferences by the players and the reactions from the old players and the conferences and decisions by Hockey India and their reactions. Once more I experienced the exclusive content and I remember was when the Mumbai Sports correspondent Shushobhan had gone to Pune at the training camp during his live chat at the evening show he brought along with him Prabhjot Singh , member of the Hockey Team which was once again only on IBN 7.
At the ending days of my internship Shiv Sena threatened that they won’t allow Australian Players to play in India because of the injustice happening to the Indians in Australia , the next day there was a news that Adam Gilchrist won’t play in the next IPL because of the threat , and every media house covered the story and then our senior reporter Vimal Kumar rather than running the news on the basis of the rumour called up Adam Gilchrist himself and he replied that he would love playing in India and feels safe playing here . This eroded all rumours and baseless news which almost channels were covering and once again the phone interview became a hit.

By all these three experiences I learned that it’s all about what extra can you provide to the audience , and on the basis of which facts are you making your story on . If you are providing a clear picture to the audience rather than confusing them going round and round around the story which normally happens in the media industry. And none of these three people come under those well dressed people for whom I was rolling my eyeballs all around. I believe my biggest earning would be that next time when I would go through a story I would not only look at the onscreen presentation but also admire the Producer ,Scriptwriter and the editor which actually are the back bone of the industry.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Hockey Crisis-Its ultimately the game who is losing

Indian Hockey, Iam talking about a sport which won the first olympic medal in 1928....four years before cricket got its official status in the country. Indian Cricket won its first world cup in 1983.....till that time Indian hockey had 11 olympic medals and a world cup in 1975 only.India won 8 medals at the olympics in a row,and the record stands till date unbroken.
But then what happened to the game..what happened to its players....and what happened to the country men .Hockey got registered as a national game in the books but failed to register as a national game in our minds .In 2008 Indian Hockey Federation's Chief got into a corruption scandal and the federation was dissolved .....And today the condition is that a month prior to the World Cup the players have stood against Hockey India to pay their dues or they won't practice.
14 months before the Cricket World Cup a pitch in the country was declared unfit for playing and we all know how much importance was that given by the media , by the government , and by the people. Iam not against the game of cricket , a good score by Sachin makes my day also pleasant but I feel that the game of Hockey also demands its due respect.
Now who is responsible for the death of the game......Players , Media , Federation. Players-I dont think they are the one to be blamed I feel Dhyan Chand also played the game with the same passion as Sachin does. Media is a follower it will start covering gilli danda matches also the day you start promoting it. I believe poor administration is the reason why people lost interest in the game.
But what is happening right now is not a pleasant scene. I met a girl who was once the member of a national hockey team and I asked her why do you stopped playing she replied "there is no future in it". . I believe that the players should also relaize that they are playing for the game and they are playing because they have a passion for it. And these issues can also be solved once the World Cup gets over. And the Sports Ministry should realize that its not only passion and patriotism which fills in the stomach of a player but he too needs money.
I hope the crisis to stop quickly ..not for the sake of players , not for the sake of the World Cup, and neither do I sympathise with Mr. Matoo who openly declared that he does not have enough money for the players to play. But for the sake of the game coz its the game ultimately who is losing