Ananda Vikatan, the Tamil weekly, has a new editor. Balasubramanian, 70, has handed the editorial reins of the flagship Ananda Vikatan to Asokan, a product of the publication’s ‘Student Reporter Scheme.’ He joined the group in 1987. Asokan was Executive Editor of the group. However, Balasubramanian continues as Editor of Junior Vikatan.
Speaking to exchange4media, B Srinivasan, Joint Managing Director, Vikatan Group, said, “Professional management is here to stay at Vikatan. It’s time for the next crop of leaders to take the reins and hold the responsibility. Interestingly, Asokan was a find of the Vikatan Group through a programme -- the Student Reporter Scheme -- envisaged by Balasubramanian. Asokan, who has been with us for over 20 years, is part of our values, our culture, and has always been next in line. He will now take Ananda Vikatan forward as Editor.”
The scheme from the publication is of one-year traineeship, and was started in 1983-84. All the 30 to 40 selected trainee reporters are entitled to a stipend, besides expenses incurred and remuneration for published articles. Over 500 trainees who joined the scheme are working in the media across the world today, said Srinivasan.
The scheme was started in 1983 and continued till 1991. It was restarted in 1998 and continues to be a part of Vikatan’s agenda today. And according to the spokesperson, the scheme benefits the existing editorial team as much as the trainees who take part. He added, “Every year, there is an inflow of youth. They are more in touch with the local dialect and understand the local issues across the state better than us sitting in Chennai. It is as much a training programme for the editorial staff as it is for the trainees.”
While the unique programme doesn’t bind the trainees or the Vikatan into any kind of agreement on employment, many like Asokan have gone on to join the group and do well. Srinivasan added that the group also takes extraordinary precautions to ensure that the trainees’ primary education and personal lives do not get affected.
In the case of Asokan, who started as a junior reporter after his training programme, it has been a win-win situation for the group and the journalist. If only all the communication institutes believed in hands-on training of this variety.