I was threatened and warned by the publishers that the media industry is small and I won’t get a job anywhere if I do not weather with the same publication. However, I decided to give up my job that day and started my own publication.
fternoon Voice is 10 years old today. Let’s rewind the journey; it was 2008 when I walked out of a job as a City Editor due to hierarchy and I was threatened and warned by the publishers that media industry is small and I won’t get a job anywhere if I do not weather with the same publication. However, I decided to give up my job that day and started my own publication. Since I left “The Afternoon Dispatch and Courier”, I decided to name my publication as ‘Afternoon Voice” the voice of those journalists who are never heard, who have no freedom of expression or who are exploited by the publication house just to render services like a robot. An intellectual mortgage is a curse. I created my banner with people’s voice. I launched Afternoon Voice with some school dropouts and some naïve journalist’s friends, asking my family to mortgage only house of ours and they really supported the thought by risking the only shelter that we had. With many twists and turns, we completed ten long years, without any interruption. In these ten years, the other Afternoon Dispatch and Courier doesn’t exist. I mean they closed the show and we are still walking the path, now I can proudly say that there is only one afternoon and that is “Afternoon Voice”. The paper, with most reliable reportage seeking truth and adherence to new age journalism, the important, interesting and hopeful trend to me in the new journalism is its personal nature — not in the sense of personal attacks, but in the presence of the reporter himself and the significance of his own involvement which is the opposite of the usual journalistic pretence. This is a medium of expression which gives voice to the untold and a platform to the unheard. Be it social activists, poets, actors, journalists, travel writers, authors or the big ones from music to science, everybody is into a news-making these days. In mainstream media houses, there are certain regulations laid down which a journalist has to adhere to. But, here, I make sure that there are no such restraints. We made our newspaper, our readers communicate with us on a daily basis, and now most of our readers are content contributors and writers to Afternoon Voice. Interaction helps enrich both the editorial desk and the reader ultimately enhancing the content. It is a two-way process in which everybody learns, and grows.
The drastic evolution of information technology and social media has led to a parallel shift in what it means to be a journalist in an increasingly globalized news sector. As a profession, journalism has become ever vaguer as it struggles to keep pace with the growing sector of information communication technologies. Our modern-day journalism is therefore forced to adapt by creating new journalistic roles, skills, and practices. One could even say that a whole new identity must be found, reconciling the traditional principles of transparency and objectivity with modern society’s expanding multimedia interests. My team has done a great job in accepting and adapting to the changing technical nature. They are aptly educated towards a discipline that now incorporates an extensive amount of multimedia complexities. However, this adaptation process has not applied to all the communication industries. We do not follow any political party, group or ideology and our pure agenda is to report objectively. We speak our minds, being neutral is always on the hit list of some or the other, if you attack BJP – the supporters of BJP translate your reporting as Congress supporting, same goes with Congress and other political parties as well. We are here to question, praise, pull and plug everyone and anyone, we as media household a lot of social responsibilities. The Nation is above all; politicians and political parties are not permanent. We might look odd but we are unique in our own way. We don’t promote ourselves; we just publish and leave it to readers. Various institutions and corporations have increased their spending towards online advertisement while “reducing their spending on printed publications”. The emerging trend of using the Internet as an advertising medium sustains a form of journalism that will remain both independent and focused upon maintaining transparency. We are printing our paper from the past 10 years and have made sure that we are equally present on social media as well.
Being a journalist is both exciting and stressful. We are constantly on a deadline because of the online and on-going competition, but you never know what you might end up covering each day. It may not be very rewarding financially, but it is rewarding to write stories that make a difference in people’s lives. I love my job in spite of all odds. These days Journalists are by definition critics. It’s an essential trait for people who seek out information, or edit it, to be skeptical – especially of institutions. That includes own institution too. But we would not trade our lives and ethics for any reason or offers. We are trying to make a difference being a parallel media. We are fighting against the odds in the fraternity. I actually don’t know how long I will be able to keep the show alive, but I am sure about my integrity towards my pen as long as I am here. Yes, I criticize everyone without being biased and I appreciate all that is in favour of the democracy and its people.
I stand neutral and neither do I carry any vendetta nor do I seek any favours. My strength is my reader’s goodwill. Being a journalist and an editor day in and day out I teach my team how to be responsible for their work because they are presenting themselves as news reporters to the people of India. When I say India – every fellow Indian is equal to me. Be it of any political party, community, group, and creed. I have no favouritism. The very democracy has given every right to the citizen of this country; let them make choices for themselves without getting influenced by any paid or favoured news coverage. I have no right to participate in hate mongering against any individual or political party, at the same time I have no locus to present the defaulter as “HERO” just because my inclination is towards them. I as a media should stand neutral and play a role of the opposition, especially when actual political opposition is weak. All though I frequently take burns for being neutral, I am tagged and trolled. I am not scared of being labelled while walking my path and my teams too share this collective responsibility. We are young team, hand to mouth but we hold great dreams by committed to bring the change.
I have tried my level best to keep parallel media alive by fighting all probabilities of this trade. We are committed to uphold fair journalism and live with its truthfulness. We are a small newspaper and could not fetch much readership through print, but we have created our strong existence. People have started noticing us. Sometimes, I get scared of getting vanished due to rat race in media. Therefore, to strengthen our roots and remain here forever as the voice of the people, we have proudly taken a step ahead by Digitalization of our publication. On internet – we have a huge scope to expand our vision, we can reach out globally, and moreover, we are not here to make money or fame. We are here to serve news and content. We are marking our presence to make a difference in fourth estate and progress towards higher levels of existence and expression. We are here to bring the revolution in media.
Off late, media is called as ‘prostitute’ (presstitute), paid (bazaru) and what not. Somewhere, people have lost faith in mainstream journalism. Broadcasting has become tools in the hands of power or rulers. Over the past few years, mainstream media has been hit by an integrity crisis. The line between journalism and public relations (PR) is blurring. Corruption in mainstream media occurs in two ways; one, individual journalists are paid in cash or kind; second, media owners are compromised by political parties or business houses. In such a crisis, if we; the young media have to stand strong, then existence in digital space is very crucial. Currently, we are everywhere from print media to social media. So far we have not halted.
Since our entry into the market, we have always been experimenting with things to set new trends in media and keep parallel journalism alive. Holding a Publication house or Newspaper is no more a prerogative of an Industrialist. What matters is that you need to have courage, capabilities and a strong pen in hand. There is no alternative to hard work and sincere efforts. For me, it has been quite an eventful journey and a fantastic learning process. On this occasion, I would first like to express my sincere gratitude to all my readers and the people who actually shaped me as a journalist and helped me grow. Also to all my subordinates who let me explore and lend freedom to reach new avenues, my team includes a small group of inexperienced staffs with some already mentored while some yet to explore. Having limited resources, the feeble status of not affording to pay very good package to the staffs, yet I remain prompt when payments are concerned.
Many get surprised and wonder how we are surviving and are able to manage so many publications, standards, and uninterrupted show. The secret is proper strategy and dedication to complete tasks in limited resources. I am proud to know the fact that, ours is the only parallel media house existing so far. Journalists abide accountability before the society in general, before the law and the professional connotation. We are also fortunate that we have good readers who trust us and believe in our integrity. This has been a long journey with various experiences and learning.
I thank each and everyone who has contributed to our voyage.