We are at that stage when we are looking for a new name for the operation. At yesterday’s morning meeting we spent a full two hours discussing some possiblities and we ended up with a list of 50-plus.
There were the usual (Newsline, Newstimes, News Horizon, News Echo), the cliched (Silicon Times, Chip City), the classy (The Metropolitan, The Cosmpolis, Bangalore Browser, Enter), and the convoluted (Coffee Country, Robusta, Harbinger).
But there were a couple of names which were truly interesting even if impractical.
Imagine calling a paper Bangalore Post & Observer like in the US because the first letters add up to BPO, or imagine a paper named in the manner in which the city likes to drink its coffee (News By Two)—only half the news will be provided every day; the reader fills/imagines the rest!
Things were going swimmingly well till B D Narayankar sent an SMS that he would like to write a sports column called Deep Point. That sent us off on a tangent.
We began thinking of cricket names for the paer. Somebody suggested “Third Slip“. It sounded like something till we realised how awkward a reporter would sound if he called up Deve Gowda‘s house and and introduced himself in Kannada.
For strategic reasons, the most likely new name/s is not on this list. Wanna guess?
Who was the sentimental desk man whose eyes welled up on reading a news item of a father who fell from a roof and fell on his son, who was standing below, killing both of them on the spot?
Late night—after we have put the first edition to bed, and after the tinkering for the city edition is still to be done while senior design consultant P S Ramesha has a long leisurely smoke—is a great time to spend on the internet.
To visit chosen websites (not all of them intellectual, mind you), to visit blogs, to update blogs, etc.
For those of us still getting used to the amazing even if narcissistic world of blogs, here is a great resource to see what other journalists on other continents are doing with their lives and careers.
Visit www.cyberjournalist.net, for a most comprehensive list of blogs produced by journalists. Visit it to see how “into it” some journalists seem to be.
“We Are The Best” is pleased to announce the winner of its first quiz contest. It is “senior design consultant” G Vishwanatha.
There were more half a dozen all-correct entries, and the winner was picked by a draw of lots conducted at the evening meeting today. The honour of picking the winner went to “Critic” Roshan, Eapen Panicker.
That’s the good news. The bad news or shall we say the more revealing news is that in an organisation which has a strength of around 140 people, barely a dozen felt inspired or motivated to take part in the sort of contest that should be meat and drink for journalists.
In spite of the Rs 500 prize, in spite of the promise of an interesting book.
Whether we know it all, whether we think it beneath us to take part in a competition, whether we are too conscientious not to google the answer—or whether we are too you-know-what—is for the world to judge every monring.
As we wound up last night, news came in of The Economist naming India as one of the flawed democracies (remember John Kenneth Galbraith‘s famous label, functioning democracy).
The desk was quickly alerted. The idea was to sneak in a brief. The desk head, smart chap, took a print out of the long story as it appeared in the Economist and went home to read.
No story in the paper. End of story.
A reasonably old trick the pranksters—and who doesn’t know who they are—play in the office is to ask bespectacled people the power of their testicles.
Almost to a man, everybody seems to mishear the question. It happened today with Eapen Panicker. Immediately, the hand went up to the specs and he said “Oh, I don’t know. It’s so old,” till he realised the joke was upon him.
The joke was first played on Vicky Nanjappa, whose default mode otherwise is to go around as if nothing and nobody can faze him.
“Jarda” master was hanging around in the high court, when somebody (hopefully not a judge) accosted him and asked him the t-question, and Narco Nanja said, “I don’t know, havent’t got it tested for a while.”
post-script: Incidents like these show how the eyes of wordsmiths who deal with words all the time are accustomed to seeing things the same way after long years at the desk.
Outlook magazine once ran a memorable quote on George Fernandes—that the Mangalore-born, Bombay-bred, Bihari politician who lives in Delhi suffers from premature articulation.
The great Vinod Mehta took a look and said no, the magazine would be sued out of its pants for printing something so offensive. But, why, he was asked. Oh, come on, do you expect such a headline to earn Fernandes’ praise?
But what is wrong?
Vinod being Vinod could never see it the way it was printed, till he realised that it was premature articulation not premature ejaculation.
Here’s a fine journalism tool for subs, reporters and editors interested in honing their language skills even sharper.
Those of the old school in jouralism would like to think that the reader gets hot and het up about Hu Jintao’s visit. But we would be surprised at what really moves and motivates a reader.
The first SMS that came this morning was curt and to the point: “Platform ticket… it is old story. In 8th platform machine is implemented last year. Only the officers quote is new”
The referencewas to a Faiza Haneef story on an automated parking lot in the city railway station with a platform ticket-vending machine.
The message was quickly forwarded to chief reporter Nirad Mudur, who had had a long conversation with deputy editor Basavanand Swamy before the piece was pushed in as page one anchor.
Nirad was quick with a response: “The automated parking lot was the story. Not the platform ticket vending. Basava wouldn’t listen.”
For his part Basava went for the jugular: “Burude mama avanu. Ondu story estusala madbekante?”
Meanwhile Faiza sends a clarifying SMS saying there is no way the reader can be right because the facility is only going to be inaugurated in a few days’ time.
Just when things seem to be going nowhere, the reader texts again: “Sorry, just I enquire about this, the unique machine is newly installed. But coin pf ticket centres are old. But story starting is like that. OK, this is a metro story.”
Kannada: 82 out of 125
English: 71 out of 100
Hindi: 66 out of 100
Mathematics: 51 out of 100
Science: 44 out of 100
Social Studies: 67 out of 100
Total: 381 out of 625.
First class: whoever can accuse us of being uneducated?
So you are stuck. Is in fact two words or one? Is it its or it’s? Theirs or their’s?
Don’t worry all of us get into that jam. Like we did for a story on page 7 today, when nobody could properly spell physicist, and Bhanu who was sitting next to a dictionary couldn’t even lift it in time.
So, what’s the solution? Either we can pretend we know it all or you can try to hone your skills.
Check out www.newsroom101.com for a set of oneline grammar and usage tests. Why should you when you already have a job? Because Bhimsen Joshi still does riyaaz at 84.