I had joined The Economic Transcript and an orientation session had been scheduled for us. I happened to have a long day. I was not in the best spirits when I sat before the laptop for yet another online session.
At the end of it, I was very glad to have attended the session and met the guest speaker, Mr. Ramesh Menon. He is an author, a journalist, and a filmmaker.
I remember reading a quote ‘Every person is a new door to a different world’. It was an enlightening experience to have lived in Mr. Ramesh Menon’s world for an hour. He was not a stranger to the miracle of meeting new people either. He urged us to reach people and, touch people (it’s a metaphor; considering the pandemic).
He acknowledged us as writers and journalists. He said one must also travel to accumulate many interesting experiences. That helps you as you’d have something to write about. And it was somewhere here that he paused and said, “the most interesting things in life do not bring you money”.
He repeated with conviction “the most interesting things in life do not bring you money”. He went on to narrate how once, he had been tasked with writing about the lighthouses of India. His travel expenses would be covered but he would not be paid for whatever he wrote. It took him (in his words) “less than 30 seconds” to say yes. He then had a very interesting and fulfilling journey along the coastline of India. It did not bring him money but left him with knowledge, experience, and joy.
The most touching part was when Mr. Menon started to explain the importance of empathy. He spoke of an interview with a young sex worker in Sonagachi, Kolkata.
He spoke of her happiness when he took her for a car ride around Kolkata. He spoke of how, at the end of it, she thanked him for giving her the most beautiful day of her life. The take-away from this story? Learn to have empathy, understand how lucky you are, and stop taking things for granted.
That was not the only takeaway from the session. We understood that there are five things we must practice as aspiring writers and journalists. Number one, writing every day, even if it is only a few lines. Number two, reading literature of good quality every day. Number three, being a child. Being an adult can restrict us sometimes, so it is good to rediscover the joys of childhood. Number four, spending time alone because we think best when we are alone. Last but not the least, exercising every day to keep our body and mind healthy.
The session was by no means one-sided. Mr. Menon’s sentences sometimes ended with a question mark. prompted answers from us listeners. He asked – What is it that you write after the title of your work? The answer was ‘the writer’s name’. He explained how writing is always better when you take responsibility. One should own what write.
In the end, we also had an interactive Q&A session. One of our budding writers at the TET asked if it was important to do a journalism degree to become a journalist. Mr. Menon replied that one can always become a journalist without a degree.
He knows several talented journalists who don’t a degree in journalism. At the same time, he said that it is always helpful to do the course. It gives you a head-start because you learn about research, data interpretation, etc.
I liked how the interaction stressed the importance of objectivity when it comes to journalism. As a journalist, we must be able to see the truth and tell the truth. Your identity as a journalist takes precedence over every other identity (like nationality, religion, caste, etc.).
Our interaction with Mr. Ramesh Menon was thus enriching and informative. He brought us in touch with the basic principles of being writers and journalists. It was a great beginning to our journey ahead with The Economic Transcript.
Written By – Pragati Kumar
Edited By – Vatsal Patel