Reporter should not be overawed
By: Er. Prabhat Kishore
The advent of spokesman in governmental circles came into existence after the Second World War. Before it, there was no such system of spokesman of any department in the government. In many countries reporters respect the desire of official to remain anonymous official, it is done by the reporter.
The editor or news editor only wants to be sure about the source in any way. Though the officials in most countries desire to remain anonymous, in USA the spokesman does not hide his identity and goes on to say whatever it might be on any particular issue. But sometimes it may to happen that the spokesman cannot be present and in his place another high official of the (not the official spokesman) is present to brief the press.
In such cases, the reporter will resort to the technique of ‘a high official of the government’ or ‘an unimportant official source’ etc. If the editor or news editor ask to reveal the source to them, the ‘reporters do it for establishing the authenticity of the news source and to ensure the credibility of the paper.
It is advantageous for high officials or policy makers of the government to say everything to the reporters and asking them not to reveal the source, but to credit it to ‘authoritative sources’ etc. If the public reaction is good they feel satisfied and elated. But if the reaction is bad or critical, these officials at once issue press-note contradicting what has appeared in the press. So, these are hazards in the life of a reporter. Therefore, he has to be extra cautious when he has to deal with officials of even anonymous spokesman of the government.
A reporter must always remember that so far as the public is concerned, the reporter is the press itself. The public do not know the function of the editor or news editor or sub-editors, because the editors etc. seldom stir out of office. They are tied to the desk; whereas a reporter has to move about to contact men high up in the society or lowest in the society. He always presumes at all important meetings, national or international conferences or gatherings or in trouble spots. The great power of the press is understood only through his writings.
Therefore, the reporter must establish his honesty, good reputation, absolute reliability, punctuality in keeping his appointments, careful about knowing the facts, fair in his comments and finally he should be efficient and prompt in submitting his copy. If a reporter observes these few essential rules, he is sure to rise in his profession within a short time.
There are several basics which must be followed by reporters. While reporting speeches delivered either in Parliament or in Vidhan Mandal, a reporter can, always without any risk, report whatever the legislator spoke. He has no much danger if the speeches are accurately reported. But on many occasions, the reporter has to meet the same politician for the reaction to various non-political, economic or social affairs.
On such occasions there may arise controversial questions which the political may explain to the reader with the understanding that the reporter will not divulge the source. This is so because if it is known that the particular politician had given his opinion on controversial issue, which might harm the interest of the party, he will naturally be hauled up by party leader. Therefore, the reporter must observe the basic principle to respect the confidence respond on him. If he breaks this principle, the source of news will be dried up soon and he will find that he is not wanted anywhere.
A reporter during his routine work has to meet very important persons. Most of them will not like that whatever they might say should be in direct quotes. In that case what he reporter will do is to resort to a tactical way of reporting everything indirect way. He resorts in indirect way of reporting all that the important man has said. Reporter in such cases uses a ‘sources close to important man’ without naming him in any manner. In this way of reporting the reporter keep confidence of the important man as also his objective of reporting is also fulfilled.
Sometimes reporters obliged to take ‘Casual Interviews’. These types of interviews are made in casual manners i.e. not giving much importance at the outset of the interview. But it may also happen that during the process of questioning or while listening to the answers, we may have chance to something quite interesting we had some vague knowledge. Then the casual interview may take a serious turn and we may find ultimately big news for our newspaper.
A reporter per chance hears something from a person in party, which arouses the curiosity of the reporter. He hears that the particular man was talking to his friend that he has been urgently summoned by a top Party leader to come to Delhi. The reporter will then pursue the matter why the Party leader has summoned him to Delhi. Is there going to be a change in the political set-up? Will there be a change in leadership? The reporter, if he goes on digging he may find a big news awaits him. Perhaps the man himself will give him many more things before he leaves for Delhi.
A good reporter will always keep his eyes and ears open whenever he goes to attend a dinner or a tea-party. He must not be absorbed in more eating and drinking. His eyes and ears must be kept wide open to see and hear or over hear what others are saying or doing. He may land in getting even greatest scoop out of such casual observation. A reporter should always remember whenever he attends such parties that facts, dignity and common sense will pay rich dividend. He must be garrulous or over-bearing because that will make him cheap and nobody give him the respect which otherwise he could expect from others in the party.
A reporter must not be afraid or shy to put questions at all times in the press-conference or at the time when he is deputed to interview big personalities. It is his duty to put question without offending the party. All the time he must courteous and he will find that this approach is the best to derive all the benefits. Another interesting fact he will realize gradually that if the interview is well conducted for few minutes there will be spontaneous supplementary from the answers and he must go on asking for answers of those supplementary.
(The author is a technocrat and educationist. He studied Journalism and Mass Communication at Patna University)