Sushant is a digital journalist, currently working as entertainment head at Network18 Hindi. Previously he has worked with BBC, HT Media Ltd, and Fever 104 FM. In this interview, he talked about his college days, why he came into journalism, his experiences and suggestion for students. You can follow him on Twitter at @sushant
What were your aspirations during college days?
During those days, I used to believe that one day I will become a BBC radio announcer or AIR announcer. I wanted to become a radio announcer all my life but suddenly the digital revolution came up and the whole thing happened in such a way that I ended up becoming a digital journalist.
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What motivated you to pursue a career in journalism?
I always wanted to communicate. First of all, I wanted to join psychology because in this field we get to really know people, get to talk to them. So communication with people was my first criteria to select my career. Then I came to know about journalism, a field where one can communicate with people.
I tried National School of Drama as well. I tried acting and did a six-month course there but it didn’t work out that well. So I started pursuing journalism.
What are the differences between what is being taught in a journalism school and the work which one eventually has to do in the newsroom?
The courses are very old. Whatever they are teaching in the colleges/institutes is not relevant to what people in media are doing. Nobody in this whole country, no Institute, teaches about Facebook live. Instead, Facebook is banned in several universities. So it’s an irony that people studying media can’t access social media themselves. Internships are very important to learn techniques. And you get to learn the method of learning journalism through them.
What was your first job?
I started my career as a radio jockey with Delhi University Community radio. I still say it with pride that I was a part of the very first team.
Does working for prestigious organizations make a difference?
Of course, it does. I will tell you one thing. Fourteen of my batch-mates are there in the field, out of total twenty-three people of the batch. Some of them, out of fourteen, started working at small places. At that time I used to think – what is going on? All these people got work and my graph is going nowhere. But I did not accept any small offers. When the campus placements were held at the time of IIMC, Dainik Jagran’s Bureau was starting in Jaipur. One of my juniors took the job out there on a very low salary. But I waited; because I thought I will get what I deserve with my talents.
I was fortunate enough that my first job was with All India Radio. Then I got an opportunity in HT and the BBC. Today, when I take a package or demand a package of few lakhs and if I have the liberty of negotiating at this level, it is only because of the fact that a brand like BBC is featured in my CV.
Which skills do you think are required to excel in this industry?
Knowledge is the most important part and the willingness to learn. Having curiosity and attitude are another two important things. There are plenty of anchors whose language is not good. Many do not even know how to write on a computer. They write hard copies and ask someone to type in down. All these things can be learned in life. But you can’t learn attitude. It’s inbuilt.
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Are there any drawbacks of working in this field?
Yes. There are many. You do not get time for your family. For five years, I have not been able to take a single leave on my marriage anniversaries. I could not go to the hospital when my mother was in operation theater. I was trapped in a LIVE and no one could do that interview except me.
An economic insecurity always persists in a journalist’s mind. This is the worst thing in this field. Here little time is given to people, and little money as well. This is the truth of this field.
How would you describe your current job at network 18? What are your roles and experiences there?
I’m the digital entertainment head for Network18 Hindi. My key responsibility is to make this brand better from all the Hindi established channels. And it’s a new team so I won’t be able to disclose you much. Many things happen in public development so you can not disclose it. I am working with a Hindi team after a long time. I’m learning new things and I’m happy here.
Sushant, what is your message for students who want to be at your place?
Do focus on one thing, journalists are not newsmakers. These are people who find news and give it to people. I have seen many people who want to become news. They themselves want to become an artist. They want media to come to their place and record them. They should understand that they are people of media and not people for media. Do not try to be news, report news. Nowadays young students want to become popular. I meet students of 17-18 years and they say – ‘Sir, we want to be like you.’
I have given ten years of my life to this and only this work. I was always focused like the Arjuna of Mahabharata on the eye of the fish. That is why I can negotiate on my terms today. I do the job on my own terms. So if you stay focused then you can become everything in life.
This interview is written and edited by Munmun Kadam. For feedbacks, comments, contribute, suggest an interview, write at firstname.lastname@example.org