Indira S. Somani, journalist, PhD

The “Dailies,” Nov. 28 to Dec. 2

We did something called the “Dailies” the week of Nov. 28 to Dec. 2.  It was basically a daily operation of SoftCopy (the multimedia site), The Observer (the newspaper), Bangalore @ 8 (the newscast) and CityCast (the broadcast website).  The students were out in the field reporting and then returned to IIJNM each night to contribute to one of the four publications.  Some days students were assigned to the desk as assignment editors and some days they were in the field as reporters.  We were all here, all 69 students and eight faculty members, each day and night until 10pm to review stories, headlines, scripts, video and more.  I mainly focused on CityCast, which only involved the broadcast reporters.  A special section was created on CityCast to run the Urban Poverty: Special Report section, a series of feature stories from the week before that covered health, transportation, labor, housing, energy, and education among the poor in Bangalore. 

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Some mornings the story meetings lacked proper planning and coordination from the editor in charge that day.  Students were constantly asked, “did you read the paper this morning?”  Something I remember only too well from my student days at Medill.  As the week progressed, I think the students really started to understand what was expected of them after they first came to the morning story meetings with weak story ideas or no story ideas at all.  Some students noticed how they missed stories when they read the competition the next day, the daily publications and broadcasts in the Bangalore region.  Some students noticed how their stories were better reported because context was provided in their writing.  Each night the lab was crazy, but exciting!  By about 9pm, we (students and professors) sat in the auditorium and reviewed the day’s work.  Some of the feedback included “have some more confidence in yourself,” “try to remember all the steps [when using technology] that have already been taught to you,” “you all are working really hard and sincere, but you need to work smarter.  It’s a shame to see so much hard work put in, but not achieve the final product.”  I remember being part of a daily broadcast operation when I taught a Maryland and of course, from my own student days at Medill.  But I have never seen three tracks of students, multimedia, print and broadcast, work simultaneously in the lab to produce four different daily publications.  That alone was worth seeing at the end of the day, not to mention how much the students improved from Monday to Friday.  Most importantly I think the students all really began to understand how important it was to work as a team, and I’m glad I could be a part of it.