The First few days...

I got up in the morning all excited! Just yesterday I had received 2 calls!! Think I'm going nuts eh? Well...read on...

The first call was from Mr N Ram's secretary and the second from Mr. P.K.Subramanium(PKS) both informing me that my application for an internship at the Hindu was successful!

Let me fill you in. I am on a 3 month vacation after having completed successfully the first 2 semesters of my Electrical Engineering degree. I let the first month go by; you know just lazing about, eating good food and catching up with my family. But after the first month of my hols, I was bored. So I began planning how best to spend the next 2 months...And then my Dad came up with this great idea. He suggested that I do something which I have a passion for, something which at first glance seemed completely out of line - a writing job!

I was at first quite hesitant, but then the idea caught on: why not do an internship where I wouldn't have to sit like a dummy doing some old desk job? Why not do an internship which would help me write and present better throughout my life? Why not have a glimpse of the hectic life of a journalist?

And the slowly formed idea began taking roots. I penned down my first ever CV and coverling letter with my mom's help! Even though we all finally get tired of writing them (or so I've heard) the first time is always exciting! I applied for an internship at The Hindu which is India's No.1 daily for a job as an attache' to a regular writer. Being an engineering student I thought why not give a shot at the science and technology section - and so I did!

And yesterday afternoon I received these calls! No less than Mr PKS (Chief Editor of the daily) called up personally to inform me that my application was successful! I was jumping with joy throughout the day and nervously anticipating my next day's interview, when my dad came in and presented me with nothing less than a Mont Blanc pen!! Oh yes! You can imagine my joy at being presented with the world's best pen! But what really lit the day up was the happy and proud faces of my family.

And so today I went (with my lucky charm of course - ama - ) to The Hindu's office at around 2 45pm for my 3pm interview. I was led directly to Mr N Ram's secretary (He is the owner and Editor-In-Chief) of The Hindu. After about an hour of waiting, I finally went in. It was a huge, well furnished room with a computer console at one end, a large desk full of files and papers and the entire room was adorned with shelves and shelves of books. I was and still am quite amazed at the transperancy ,reflective I suppose, of a top class organization!

It was what you'd call a once in a life-time experience I guess, but the top man's simplicity, his direct and open way of talking and his personalized attention - even if it were for a few minutes - made me feel comfortable. I was assigned to the supervision of Mr PKS and one Mr Mukund and would work under Dr Prasad who headed the science and technology section of the paper.

I then accompanied Mr Mukund who showed me around a part of the office. He showed me the pictures of the founders of the organization- which boasts proudly of a 128 year heritage. He then gave me an intro to the paper as such - 11 printing centres in prominent cities throughout the country, journalists and reporters in almost every district, each region to its own edition and suplements and different ads!

I learned that there were basically 2 parts to the office - the newsroom as they called it and a beaurau. The newsroom was the place where sub-editors and editors would select the articles and make any changes required, design the layout of the page and fit as many stories into it as possible.

over the next few days, I went to the newsroom where I was allowed to interact with different sub-editors in charge of various sections of the paper. I learnt that there were various 'bays' - one for the national news, one for the international section and one for the last page. These were basically sections of the paper which remained a constant in all printed editions.

I interacted with Mr Madhu, who was the leader of the "national news bay" and learnt about the intranet system that all the employees worked on. It was an excellent software by which the sub-editors had access to wired articles and reports. They could design the layout of their page from a set of standards, fit in articles and pictures in their allotted space, edit sections and forward them on for a final check.They had reports, alterations and corrections constantly flowing in from their various centres. It was an interesting learning experience.

I then moved on to meet the Photo sub-editor who introduced me to their photo portal. They worked on NICA which I was amazed by! It was an awe-inspiring software system by which they had perhaps millions of photos stacked! It was again very user friendly by which they could just search for pictures sent in by various agencies and select those appropriate to the tone of the news item. I was awestruck when I learnt that a total of 200 pictures were published, daily, in all editions printed throughout the country.

There was then the international section which I learnt about by interacting with one Mr Srinivasan, the leader of this bay. He told me about how they had to constantly monitor the international news channels - like Fox, CNN, BBC, etc. I was interested to learn that the international news published were mostly those which had an appeal for the average Indian - like news from Pakistan, Nepal, Iraq, London and SEA! I also learnt that pictures can sway the interest of the reader and so every page tried to have at least one horizontal and one vertical picture!

I must say it was exciting knowing tomorrow's news! I observed the complete formation of a page 22 (it was the only one finalised by 8 pm!!) I could connect with the work that was being done and the final layout. It was an interesting process.

It was time to leave at around 8pm but I noticed that the activity had just begun! News would flow in till 12 pm and the final layout would be released by 1 15pm. Each section of the paper had a deadline to meet and some sections were left blank until late for filling in any latest developments!

It was a unique, exciting and wonderful learning experience.

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