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Reporter’s Diary: Learning off the field

23-April-2011
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Reporter’s Diary: Learning off the field

“How would you know? You weren’t there!”

A quip I have heard too many times from people who give more credit to the reporters and correspondents and are almost a million times sure that editors are those be-spectacled owls hovering over computer screens on long nights, purely cleaning copies and giving interesting headlines.

That is not the whole story.

I have tremendous respect for my correspondents who also brave odd hours and competition to give us excellent stories. But my scales are tilted towards the editors (even if I was not one- I can assure you I would have thought so). The fact that they not only give you an error-free readable, decipherable copy and manage to arrest your eyes with a plethora of interesting headlines but make sure, as a footnote of sorts, that all the information being put out there in cent per cent correct.

Does one realize the immense amount of pressure that is placed on the editors when information has to be handled? The information needs to be verified, corrected on need and made as accurate as possible. Clearly, these are things that a correspondent cannot do. And I rest my case.

I remember telling my boss rather bluntly that I had no intention or desire to become a correspondent, I did not want to be out there gathering stories or interviewing people. These acts have their own bit of fun for sure, but as I told him in my interview, I preferred to correct people. Ok. I am conceited. Sue me.

Every single day, there are mega bytes of information being pumped out in to the system. Fair enough. But someone has to make sure that the information has some semblance of truth to it and for the sake of safety and avoidable court cases- correct. And a correspondent can only handle a part of that. No wonder the sword comes down the heaviest on the desk while the correspondent can still live.

We are not in the thick of action, we may not be rubbing shoulders with competition to make sure that we get to flash the story first. But the story has to still go through us to see the light of day. And no one else can dig into past reports, into reports of the competitors and make sure that the flawless bit goes out there.

We know. And much more. Can we just agree on that?
 

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