Chandrani Sinha is a Guwahati-based independent journalist and activist. Gender, politics, and environment are her interests. In this interview with www.acadman.in she talked about her journey in journalism & More
Please tell us a bit about your early life, your school education and your aspirations at that point of time?
I was born and brought up in Guwahati city of Assam. Being one of the 2tier cities of India one can understand the struggle when it comes to exposure during that time and society played a major role. But being the only child in the family I was lucky to have few privileges. Although I was a very shy and introvert child during my early childhood and I still remember I used to hold the corner of my mom’s aanchal wherever she used to take me. We had a joint family and used to stay in rented house, so might be the change of locality every time might be the reason for me to have fewer friends.
But this stage passed soon when I started opening up bit by bit and started making new friends in our locality. I still remember we had a club named as Panda club which I began and I was the president.
From nursery till class 6, I was Modern High School. From class 7 Till 12 I studied in Gurukul Grammer School. I was always the last bencher and the black sheep of the class. Mathematics was my enemy, still it is. I never liked the idea of go to school, in fact I used to bunk a lot. Education confined within four walls is what I hated the most. So every month for my teachers it was a ritual for them to call my parents for complains.
In an Exclusive Talk with Acadman, Bobby Ghosh, Editor-in-Chief of Hindustan Times said – Every Intern should be paid; Politicians, in Delhi & Srinagar, should do their job
How was your college life? What was your subject? Were you sure that you want to be a journalist?
I completed my degree from Baldwin college Bangalore. My major subjects were Journalism, Sociology, English. Since childhood, I dreamt of becoming a journalist, but somehow the dream faded till the time I was 18. I wanted to be a lawyer but circumstances pushed me to pursue journalism and not law. I was studying journalism for the sake of degree nothing more I expected during college days.
How motivated you to pursue a career in journalism?
After Graduation, I came back to Guwahati to my family for a short trip. But this short trip ended up in getting a job in a local channel as a trainee reporter. I realized this is the only thing I want to do till I die. I loved taking everyday challenges in search of news. That’s how life started changing.
Also Read: Rajdeep Sardesai, on his life at University of Oxford, Playing Cricket against Pakistan’s team, Practicing at Bombay High Court, Establishing and leaving CNN IBN (News18), being targeted on social media, & More
Please give us an overview of your life at journalism school?
Journalism is something which you have to feel by heart. Schools and colleges can brush up your skills and can guide you. But news sense is something which comes from ground reporting and practice.
Where did you get your first job in journalism? Do you recall any memorable incident from that time?
I got my first job in a regional channel name as PrimeNews. I mostly used to cover crime as a part of my first job. There was a lot of incidents I had to go through in daily basis, worst were murder, accident, rapes. I still remember in the beginning I used to finish up my assignment quickly go home and cry under the shower.
How did your career unfold?
It was the time when I used to work for a regional magazine when I first started contributing for Tehelka.com. After that, the journey continued.
Would you like to compare the work culture and work environment at the media houses you worked with?
There is a huge difference between the regional and national perspective of seeking a story. As I have almost work with so many houses the requirement and style vary in different manner.
You have started Badalta Northeast. Please tell us about a bit?
I am still working on it. Other words it’s my dream project. Will surely share once it is launched officially.
We often hear about the isolation of North-East from other parts of the country. What are your views on it?
Of course, it’s true. May be because of the geographical, cultural and linguistic differences from mainland India, the news flow is always seen to be low. But I am still glad some of the media houses still trying to bridge the gap.
How much space do you think Indian mainstream media have for issues related with the northeast?
The airtime northeast India gets in mainstream media is pathetic. Compared to other parts of the country it’s negligible. One has to understand that Northeast is heterogeneous and not homogenous.
Where do you think Indian Journalism stands and in which direction it is moving today?
Journalism is been limited to politics and violence nowadays. While there are many other genre which still needs attention and is deprived of serious coverage.
On which things a student willing to make a career in journalism should focus on?
Apply for internships that will give you practical experience to put on your resume.
Apply for a position on the college newspaper. This is one of the best ways to get practical experience. Being on the student newspaper teaches you how to find and pitch ideas, work with others, meet deadlines and more.
Read at least five newspaper a day; it will help you understand different angles of one story.
Being a woman, what kind of challenges did you have to face in your career?
Doubt on leadership and gender based inequality.
Please tell us about the books which have inspired you or has made a huge impact on you?
I can’t name one, every book has its own essence; I am specially a non-fiction reader. But nevertheless books like Accidental India by Shankar Iyyer, everybody loves a good drought by P.Sainath. Indomitable Spirit by A.P. J Abdul Kalam and lots more are few of the books which drew my interest towards my field.
Please tell us about some of your stories which have made a huge impact, or you believe was very difficult to report?
Conflict and natural disaster stories are the most difficult to report especially in places like Northeast.
Some of my impactful stories comprises of crime against women, human trafficking environment which were liked by people.
What would be your message for students of journalism across India?
There is a famous quote by Horace Greeley “Journalism will kill you, but it will keep you alive while you’re at it.” So believe in your instinct and keep going.