I sat in my rocking chair at home, twiddling my thumbs in nervous anticipation. “Will you @#$%$%s tone down”, I roared. The overhead fan spun its fastest, but sweat gently needled up past my epidermis and rolled uncontrollably to a point of resistance, before soaking the fabric that clothed me. Then, time stood still. The news channel gave its latest offering ?.the nine o’clock news?and this evening’s top stories?and then, oh my gosh, it’s came on ? my piece came on!!! I always got a hellava kick from starring on national TV.
I still remember the day I gave my first job interview. It was at the height of an Indian summer and my mom forced me to suit up. I always wanted to be a reporter ? a kickass one! And be able to deliver an early morning scoop to the bleary eyed masses, interest them enough to weed their silly noses from their coffee mugs and boring newspapers, and watch the news the way I first absorbed and embellished it.
My first workday commenced with a tour of the newsroom ? a place of frantic activity people scurried about, skipping over several mini-heart attacks caused by near impossible deadlines that dotted their day. But my love was the field ? the ground zero of action. If you ever want to be a collector of human experience, be a reporter. You get to encounter life’s news in its rawest, unedited forms; you get to crawl through sorrow and fly with the swans and ?switch anywhere between the great expanse of human experience at the swivel of an eye. But then, if you can’t carry a story, or don’t have one, you are ? plain and simple ? finished. And so, May-15, 1995, was the day I got married to the job.
No one educated me on cut-throat competition that sometimes causes an early bird to forfeit an exclusive; or that you need to smile and shake hands with saints and sinners with pleasant aplomb just to maintain your network of contacts. No one filled me on the big, bad world ? I discovered the hard way. My first days as a reporter were harrowing, as I was meek and polite. Since it’s difficult to change basic nature, how was I to get ahead of the rest of my clan? I sifted from one reporting strategy to the next, sequentially defining them to be impractical in the modern ruthless world I lived in. And then, one day, it dawned to me, an idea so simple, that I missed it altogether ? remnants of a conversation had with an old friend, spoken absentmindedly in a metaphorical sense. That brought on transformation, and its knowledge brought immense power. I revisited my reporting basics Rule #1 cultivate your contacts in a non-judgmental way. Rule #2 Psychology can get you the exclusive sans being competitive. Rule #3. Never rat on your rats, or your news inputs will terminate for life. Rule #4 Get the story before the story gets to you. I smiled; it was time to get practical.
Soon, there was arson?.and a suspected gangland killing?.and a missing child?..and a desecrated holy place?.and some rapes?and I was the star reporter there. Eventually, my boss got goo-goo over me. I managed to garner newsworthy facts that no one else seemed to have access to; managed to be on crime sites before others were intimated; managed to click snaps before rivals could feed in their rolls. I soon earned incentives and the intoxicating highs of achievement and recognition.
Everyone wanted to know of my sources...my methods... Pretty girls enquired deceptively, tall chairs probed me at power lunches and office parasites fished for information I could - and would - never disclose.
Knowing that tomorrow’s day may not withhold my brand of news, I switched off the television post termination of the 9 o’clock news and regarded the motley group assembled in my room. “Who plays this week?”, I quizzed. Everyone raised their hands. “Guys, please, you know I have to give everyone a fair chance”. They grumbled. “Prakash, Rajesh and Jay”, I said, “let’s see how happy you can make me this time”. They nodded and all eagerly accepted their justified share of my incentives. To want the kind of news that can make you a star, you have to go out and make some. In the coming days, three of my boys will make my news ?every bit of it ? the arson, murders, and the like ? criminal ingenuity is their forte. I know, from a moral standpoint, this arrangement appears diabolical, but these delinquents are going to do their job regardless. Teaming with them merely becomes an arrangement for mutual benefit. For now, I will speculate on the happenstance of little phone calls that will tell me of some interesting news that I may decide to put to commercial use.