Prema Sridevi is currently a News & Special Projects Editor at Republic TV. She is working with Arnab Goswami since 2005. In this exclusive interview with acadman.in she talked about her days at Commits Institute, interning at NDTV to switching to Republic TV from Times Now.
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Would you like to tell us about your school days? What kind of exposure, environment, and aspirations did you have during that time?
I did my schooling in Bangalore and even during those days I aspired to be a journalist.
What inspired you to take up journalism as a career?
I used to read a lot of newspapers and used to see how diligently my dad would read the newspapers in the morning and speak about news stories of the day. I slowly developed interest in current affairs and eventually decided that Journalism would be the career i would choose.
How was your experience at Commits Institute, Bangalore?
Experience at Commits was great. Being a student of Ramesh Prabhu sir in Commits has been the best part of my commits experience. He is the best Journalism professor I have ever come across.
At Commits, we got practical exposure to Journalism and I also did a lot of internships, in the first year I Interned with Times of India, Bangalore and Deccan Herald, Bangalore and secured a lot of bylines in their dailies, a larger part of my second year was spent interning for NDTV in Bangalore, which again got me interested in TV journalism.
What kind of challenges have you faced so far in your career?
Challenges one faces in this profession are many. The best challenge has been to get over a good story and again start working on another story knowing the fact that you are only as good as your last story. So, there is no time to be wasted and a journalist cannot forever bask in the glory of one or two good stories, journalism is a continuous process and one needs to keep doing stories. Every next day you start with a clean slate, unless of course you are doing a follow up of an old story.
How do you manage your work-life balance?
Thankfully, that has never been a problem for me. When you enjoy the work you are doing and when you have a lovely family that understands you, work doesn’t seem like work. It just becomes a part and parcel of your life.
A blog states that “Prema is a trusted ally of veteran Arnab Goswami who has a habit of giving tough investigative projects to her”. You have been working with Arnab since 2005. How would you describe him as a Boss? What is it like to work with him?
I started working with Arnab from early 2005. Since then there was no looking back. Arnab is a true Reporter’s Editor. As a Boss, he is the most accessible person. Any reporter working with him can freely call him at any time of the day or night on a story. His heart always beats for a good story. The best thing about Arnab is he does not believe in hierarchy, he gives opportunity to youngsters, promotions are always based on merit and the best part about working with Arnab is his Editorial Meetings. Every time you attend his Editorial meetings, you have a new thing to learn.
How important is it to have a degree in journalism to be a good journalist?
I frankly don’t think that a degree in journalism is required to become a good journalist. But sometimes a degree in journalism can come handy but that is not a pre-requisite. I believe that a good journalist should have plain common sense and a heart that can empathise with people and their problems.
What are the skills that you look for while hiring a new journalist?
I usually look for people who are dedicated and committed to the profession of journalism and not here only because of the want for a job. Since I’m into Investigative Journalism, I look for journalists who have special skills to add new dimensions to an existing story, who can take a regular story forward by way of more investigative angles, and who can think out of the box and get fresh stories onto the table. The ideal situation is to work with journalists who can do stories that can impact the lives of the people in a positive manner or do impactful stories.
What is the scope for investigative journalism in Indian media?
India has a lot of scope for Development Journalism and Investigative Journalism. Our population is huge, problems are plenty, there is rampant corruption, nepotism, red tapism and we have seen government’s that have been showing absolute apathy to the problems of the people. Therefore the scope of investigative journalism in India is huge.
Which report has been your favorite report so far?
There are a lot of stories that comes to my mind, but the stories that are very close to my heart are Sunanda murder expose, which is an ongoing investigative series that we are running on Republic TV and the Ishrat Jahan story, which I did for my former company.
Are you happy with your job?
What message would you like to give to the students of journalism across India?
I would just like to say that while learning Journalism try and get as much practical exposure in journalism. Try and do as many internships you can while doing your Journalism course. And stay focused and keep the passion for journalism alive.