Monday, February 23, 2009

Niscortians Visit India's Premier News Agencies.

Good Day Bloggers,
What's on?
Today i would like to share with you folks my experience of the visit to the Press Trust of India and The United News of India, India's premier news agencies.

Here's the report:

New Delhi, 14 February: Students of Niscort (National institute of social communications research and training), a media training institute situated at Vaishali, Sector-1, Ghaziabad had a feel of the news delivering process when they visited the country’s premier news agencies, PTI ( Press Trust of India) as well as UNI (United News of India) on Saturday as part of their industry related visits.

The Students from the Print Journalism course here had an interactive session with the News Agency’s Deputy Editor, Mr. Vijay Satokar who has been in the business for 30 long years.

Talking to students he said that in contemporary times the definition of news has changed, it goes beyond the conventional 5w’s and 1 H (What, Where, When, Why, Who and How).
Answering to one of the queries put forward by the Print Journalism batch, Mr.Satokar claimed that PTI is an absolutely independent body without any external interference.
As far as establishment of the body was concerned, he recalled that it was during Pandit Nehru and compatriot Sardar Patel’s time that a motion was set into process to form a news-delivering agency which was not under any influence. He added that before its establishment, Reuters called the shots.
He said that PTI follows the model of Associated Press (AP) of the United States as its yardstick of news-deliverance. He added that PTI is owned by Indian Newspapers of different languages.

The directors of the body are the owners of Ananda Bazar Patrika, Mumbai Samachar, Malayalam Manorama, The Week and other National Dailies.
Elucidating further, he stated that English dailies like the Indian Express, Times of India and Hindustan Times etc. put their money in the agency on the condition that it will be reinvested back into the industry.
Stressing on the body’s policies the editor told students that PTI is a non-profit sharing company i.e. all investments are put back into the organization. He claimed that this was the very cause for its political independence.
He asserted that its editorial point of view is always independent and is taken care of by the Editor-in-Chief.
The Newspapers subscribe to the agency in lieu of which the body charges them the required rates. He told the students that not all newspapers can buy the news items at high rates. The rates charged are determined by the high circulation of the dailies. The more a newspaper sells, more is the charge.
He drove home the fact that in Media, it is easy to plant stories. Commenting on contemporary trends of reporting he told the aspiring journalists, that news related to national interest is forgotten. The percentage of negative news is more at present.
As far as PTI’s news processing system is concerned, it is divided into 4 regions- the big metros comprising of regional centres further divided into Southern and Northern states.
He also told the students that how earlier news was delivered by teleprinters and how it has been replaced by computers at present.
Answering to a question put forward by one of the students circling around the agency’s thrust of reporting, Mr.Satokar replied that the agency basically covers hard news but also goes for soft-stories.
He said that the organization has some special services to its profile. To name a few, it has its infant television wing, feature Department etc with its Hindi service division known as “ Bhasa ”
Answering to questions concerning the impact of global economic meltdown on the Indian media, he clarified that the Indian industry is not badly hit as has been the case in the West.
As far as its work-culture goes, the Agency works round the clock and round the year, 24*7 he stated.
Mr. Satokar told the students that each department of the body be it Politics, Bussiness, Sports, Entertaintment, has a hierarchical setup.
He further stated that each beat has a correspondent and added that the business is the biggest desk. It comprises 60 people. As far as other desks go, the legal desk is also a big desk.
Commenting on the question of international correspondents, he replied that United States has 4 such correspondents based in Washington, Houston and Silicon
Valley etc.The agency also has correspondents in Russia, London.While China and Israel has one correspondent each.
Mr.Satokar summed up the interactive session by informing the students regarding its employee strength which was 1,400 people all over the country while its foreign correspondents totalled to 15.
After this experience, the students visited United News of India (UNI) and were welcomed by Mr. Neeraj Vajpayee, Joint – editor of the premier news agency.
He was appointed as the joint-editor in 1999. He told students he was in the business for 30 long years.
He started his interaction with the students in a non-corporate manner by not making them feel alien and encouraged them to put forward as many questions as they could.
He said that in India, there existed two main agencies one was PTI and the other being UNI.
He said that UNI was established in 1961.He added that it would be celebrating 50 years of its formation on 2012. It had subscribers as The Telegraph, Ananda Bazar Patrika etc. He recalled Bidhan Chandra Roy was the C.M. of West Bengal then.
He told students that UNI had its first office in Khan Market. He said that the agency’s regular clients are Doordarshan and All India Radio (AIR). Both of them subscribes to news annually in crores and monthly in lakhs.
As far as administration of the agency goes, he reportedly said that it has directors in the form of big Newspaper owners.
It too functions round the clock like PTI and has relieving shifts of the employees by 24* 7.
Clearing the vagueness regarding its policy he claimed that it has a no profit and no loss style of functioning. The agency people reinvest the earnings in modernizing infrastructure, payments of employees etc.
On his personal work-timings, he replied that he dedicates at the most 15/18 hours daily.
Mr. Vajpayee elucidated that they have mostly stingers abroad as news-delivering resources. These are based in Washington, Singapore; Thailand etc.He stated that the agency has “ Univarta ” as its Hindi services. Besides these, it also has Urdu and photo-services to its credit. He gave the students an additional input regarding the Urdu newspapers which are given subsidy by the government. In this regard, he gave the instance of Urdu newspapers’ subsidized rates amounting to 2,500 from the original rate being Rs.5000. Its operations are similar to PTI. Its works involved editing, scan-services, recruitment and dissemination of news.
It covers all districts of Maharashtra, Kerela, Chennai, Bangalore, Kerela has 50 correspondents approximately. He told Students UNI has a tie-up with Reuters. It also has tie-ups with IRNA (Iranian News Agency), Xinhua of China to name a few. He told that every state of the country is linked to New Delhi in its news-delivery system.
Its sources are the stingers who are reporters attached to a newspaper through a string - like network.
Mr. Vajpayee claimed that the agency has cut-throat competition with PTI. The Editor described UNI’s vocation in news delivery process by quoting the agency as “authentic wholesalers of news.”
As far as payment rates were concerned, it was on monthly basis which included subscription with photos. He said that small papers were charged 10,000 plus which included news tax. While, big papers were charged from 2, 5 or even 6 lakhs.
He elucidated that PTI followed the ABC yardstick for subscription charges which was nothing but A standing for the big-papers, B for the medium and C for the small-papers.
As far as the organizational setup of the agency goes, it follows the “ cluster ” system. According to it for instance, Bombay was a regional desk.
Commenting on some of the safeguards the agency follows while filing news he claimed that it is cautious both in filing and flashing News. He stated that certain nuances are guarded in the process pertaining to blunting of the sharpness of a news item to make it appear balanced.
He further added that news is divided into “ baskets ” here which included viz, news relating to media itself, Science, Crime, Sports, Politics as well as news-stories of all the states.
Commenting on the work-culture of the agency, Mr. Vajpayee said that it has a free work atmosphere and has no bossism going around.

Have a cool day folks,

Keep blogging and posting!


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