Saturday, January 4, 2014

How a Commits student became a Citizen Journalist on CNN-IBN


Last month, Commitscion ANKITA SENGUPTA (Class of 2013) featured on CNN-IBN's special episode of the "Citizen Journalist" show. Here Ankita, who works with Deccan Herald in Bangalore, explains how it all happened and describes the experience:

When Commitscion Shylaja Varma (Class of 2012), who is a reporter with CNN-IBN in Bangalore, first asked me if I wanted to be a Citizen Journalist for the news channel, I was obviously thrilled but when she told me that she wanted to cover the molestation story that had appeared in print more than a year ago, my first thought was, "Oh dear. Are we really going to milk that cow again?" The story had been published in The Chronicle and also in Bangalore Mirror. Although I had received a lot of appreciation for the article, I felt it had outlived its importance and did not deserve any more attention.

However, Shy explained to me that to mark the anniversary of the Nirbhaya gang-rape, CNN-IBN was planning a series of shows concentrating on crimes against women and my report would be one of the segments. Now I remember practising my PTCs in front of the mirror when I was at Commits : "This is Ankita Sengupta, reporting for CNN-IBN," but after I opted to join the print media I never thought I would get the opportunity to do a PTC again. So when Shy came up with this offer, I pounced on it.

On the day of the shoot, Shy told me that she wanted the PTC to be conversational in tone so it would be better if I did not mug up my lines. We decided to improvise the "script" so that it felt like I was having a conversation with the camera.


Not having to learn any lines made it a little easier for me. As it is, for my first national television PTC, to be standing in a public space, being gawked at, with the sun in my face and a cameraman waiting to get the perfect shot, the pressure to perform was immense. I could not stare at the camera, ignore the heat and the onlookers, and try to remember what I was supposed to say next. Fortunately, we were able to wrap up the shoot within three hours and, thankfully, both Shy and the cameraman were happy with the day's work.

The next day Shy told me that the CJ team wanted me to be a part of an "online hangout" that would be streamed live on the news channel's website. As luck would have it, the microphone in my laptop had stopped working the previous day and since the hangout could not be postponed, I had to get my hands on another laptop. Desperate, I called up my roommate, rushed to her office to get her cupboard keys, and then, thanks to her laptop, finally managed to be part of the chat.

This particular CJ report was telecast through the week and when I was told that my PTC was quite good, I could not help but be a little smug about it. After all, I did practise it at Commits.

I was working the night shift at Deccan Herald, so a day dedicated to the shoot and another taken up by the hangout meant that I had had less than eight hours' sleep in two days. So I was exhausted but I was also elated. It was a great experience being a Citizen Journalist and being on television for CNN-IBN. And if I do continue to be a print journalist, I will always have this CJ report, my tiny contribution to the broadcast media, to cherish.

However, none of this would have happened had it not been for my dear senior, Shylaja Varma. She has been a "super senior" in every sense of the term. Again, thanks a million, Shy.

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