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Reporter's Diary: Lessons and is this important?

05-February-2011
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Reporter's Diary: Lessons and is this important?

-“Hello Sir...I am ______ from e4m. Glad to meet you.”
-“Hi...I am ____ and what exactly is it that you do in e4m?”

The elusive world of editing lies behind the desk, behind the hand-shakes and the exchange of visiting cards. We in all probability may never meet the person again and may only be editing his/ her interview or looking into quotes. The conversations that we may have will have nothing integral that can go in to a story concretely; no quotes; no award winning quips.

But what a simple face to face interaction can do to a future story is unimaginable.

What a person says as an aside or rather ‘off-the-record’ is, in my opinion, far more vital than the conversation recorded and jotted down meticulously on paper. For example, a Global CEO joking about how a particular company has nothing to offer to a certain awards, or another big name mentioning how baffling India is for them. All off the record, but far more insightful than comments that we put down.

More often than not, we are far more honest and candid when we know for sure that we are off the record and this also applies to all big names in the industry. The very moment one utters the words: “Sir, this is off the record...”, it seems that the demeanour of the person in conversation almost alters. The shoulders relax, the smirk comes up and out pours all the candid quips.

Editors have the luxury of facing this honesty far more often than reporters do. We don’t want comments, we only want to talk, we want to know. And more of than not - nothing of it would even go up on the page or site we work for. For when a person matters, when his opinions matter, it is far more integral to know how he feels and how he thinks than to know what he says. I am obviously speaking purely from the perspective of the desk.

What he says is the reporter’s problem. Editing is supposed to be a job that is free of any form of prejudices, but on the flipside, the one that forms the strongest opinions. Thus, when DNA (the Mumbai daily) made the decision to drop the edit page, we all wondered – what would the newspaper be worth now?

Whatever may be the final decision for DNA, I have learnt that it is vital to meet people. To have a face to face conversation, to exchange cards and to say – “Sir, We would love to get in touch with you for this...”

Events, meets, seminars, summits… it is time to buckle up and go meet a few people now...

 

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