Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Reading the newspapers every day pays off big-time!

A Commits student has won Rs. 6 lakh on a Bengali TV quiz show.

And what is the connection with reading the daily newspapers? Here is the self-explanatory e-mail I received yesterday from First Year student Agnihotra Roy:
I wanted to inform you, no, thank you. I had taken part in a quiz contest in Kolkata on Star Jalsa, the Bengali TV channel. The show is called Koti Takar Baaji ("Bet Worth 1 Crore") and it is hosted by one of the big-shot actors of the Bengal film industry.

It's a really tricky quiz show. You have to be extremely fast and be prepared to take risks. I got through to the final round... and I won a whopping Rs. 6 lakh!

Reading the newspapers every day paid off in a big way!

I also want to mention here that at a very critical stage I got a question from Pratibha Ma'am's quiz monthly quiz at Commits, and that helped me a lot. This was the question: Which is the largest living being on earth? Thanks to Pratibha Ma'am, who had asked the same question at our last quiz, I was able to answer the question: The Great Barrier Reef.

I had to answer eight questions in all. I knew the answers to the first seven but I had no clue about the 8th one, which was the trickiest question of all: In Greco-Roman language, what was Amman known as in ancient times? The options were Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Miami. I must say I had my share of luck here. I placed my money on Philadelphia because what came to my mind was Delphus, which is a Greco-Roman word. It happened to be the right answer!

The last Sunday of October was, thus, a super Sunday for me. I am now looking forward to the telecast, which, I was told, will happen in the last week of this month.

Congratulations, Agnihotra!

Agnihotra, who, like his classmates, is on an NGO internship break from college, has been making a special effort, like his classmates, to read the daily newspapers.


I call this the "Magic Box" effect. In my journalism class every day, one student, whose name is picked out of a bowl (the "Magic Box"), has to discuss in detail at least three stories she or he has read in that day's papers. This is a compulsory exercise which owes its origin to the fact that most young people today find reading the newspapers every day a chore (and a bore) and find reasons to give it a miss.

I tell our students that reading the newspaper is vital for two main reasons:

1. It will help them to learn about the world around them on a daily basis. So newspapers should be read in order to absorb information.

2. Journalistic writing, at the basic level, is functional writing. So reading newspapers closely and studying the writing style will help them to become better writers. Whether you like it or not, people (especially employers, bosses, colleagues at work) will judge you on the basis of how well you speak and how well you write, no matter which media career you choose.

During their time at Commits, our students, who all hope to become successful media professionals one day, do seem to realise the value of the "Magic Box" exercise. It is our hope that this daily habit at Commits of reading the newspaper will become a lifelong one.
If you don't read, you can't write.

How the lack of a reading habit can be a serious handicap.

1 comment:

  1. My good friend and former Khaleej Times colleague Shagorika Easwar commented via e-mail:

    What a fabulous endorsement of your pushing the students to read! But I have to confess - I read tons and both those questions had me stymied! Once I read the answer to the seventh, I knew I knew it, but delayed reactions don't win a quiz show!

    But back to reading the dailies. Not too many people seem to do that any more, not just young adults, but all across the board. I guess 24/7 news channels are a contributory factor - if you are a news junkie, it's easier to get your fix from television or to listen to it on the radio while driving.

    But it seems really strange that those who want to become journalists have to be persuaded to read.

    This picking a student to discuss the day's headlines that you do was something they did at Sophia's - it also encouraged girls to get over a fear of speaking in public!

    I used to think that a love for the written word led me to journalism, but now it seems journalism is leading kids to reading.

    Loved the column on Plato/Aflatoon. We use Aflatoon so easily in Hindi and all these years I never knew he was Plato. Also the Naipaul anecdote. Try saying Eshelley - you can't! Though iskool and lipistick, of course, are common. After reading this column, I finally figured out why some people always said Ismita Patil! And Jinnah/Jhinhu is priceless.

    Thank you for sending me the link, Ramesh!

    (Shagorika Easwar is now based in Toronto, Canada, where she edits two highly successful magazines: Desi News [] and CanadaBound Immigrant [].)


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