My journey with the Times

Monday Musing

[ M Doley ]

I joined this daily as a proofreader in 1999. Since I didn’t have the basic knowledge of journalism, I struggled with my job at the beginning.

After a few days of work, my senior Pradeep Kumar asked me to suggest a headline for a news item by the next day. I thought the whole night but could not find an appropriate headline.

At that time, the newsroom of this daily was in Banderdewa. Our main sources of news were press releases and news agencies like PTI and UNI. We did not have any correspondent anywhere in the state. We often fell short of news items, especially when the tele-printers, through which we used to receive the agency news, went out of order. In such a situation, we inserted some old and already published advertisements free of cost to fill up the pages. This was done on the advice of the then advertisement manager.

Unlike these days, there was no internet and all the agency news and press releases came in hard copies in those days. The DTP operators had to compose around 8,000 words every day for four pages. The selection, markings and typing out of the whole news and then proofreading with limited staff were a very lengthy process and strenuous work.

In Banderdewa, flashfloods submerged the newsroom every year during the rainy season. Flashfloods compelled us to suspend publication of the daily on many occasions. The newsroom was shifted from Banderdewa to Itanagar in 2009.

I would like to share an interesting incident that happened with me while in Banderdewa.

One day, Pradeep sir suddenly told me in a lighter vein that someone was seeking my transfer to Tali! I was surprised by his telling and asked why.

Briefing me about their conversation, Pradeep sir said that the person (a former president of a priest association) called him up to enquire as to why the press release sent by him had not been entertained. I was held responsible for not publishing the press release.

Then I understood why he was asking for my transfer to Tali. His thinking was that ours was a government establishment and the employees could be posted to far-flung areas to punish them!

The press release was not entertained because of certain reasons.

At around the same time, there was a rumour doing the rounds about a ‘monkey man’. One day, when we all reached the office in the evening, we heard about rumours of the emergence of a ‘monkey man’ in Banderdewa. After hearing it, I was sent to the spot, where the imaginary ‘monkey man’ had reportedly showed up. There was a sizeable gathering of people at the spot. I made a careful inspection and found no evidence of the so-called ‘monkey man’. Some people pointed towards some scratches on a wall and believed that they were footprints of the ‘monkey man’.

I told the news desk about whatever I had found there, and that it was a rumour. However, there was a news item on it which was published on the same day.

The next day, many people rang up the office, seeking proof of the emergence of the ‘monkey man’, while many lambasted and ridiculed us for publishing such unfounded news.

I still fail to understand why the unfounded report was approved by the then editor and published.

I have been working in this daily for the last 22 years and am still learning. My thinking is: whatever you do, do it sincerely.