Friday, August 7, 2009

The Newsroom of The New Indian Express, Hyderabad

The New Indian Express is a paper that caters to most of the southern regions in India. With its headquarters in Chennai, it has got its bureaus in many districts of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Orissa and Kerala. The Hyderabad bureau is the main office in Andhra Pradesh. The resident editor is Mr. G.S Vasu and the news editor, who spoke to us in length about the organisation, is Mr. G Subramaniam.

Apart from the resident and the news editor, the Hyderabad desk comprises two Deputy News editor (DNE), six chief sub-editors, one senior sub editor and two sub editors. The Expresso section has a separate editor and four sub editors-cum-reporters working under him/her. Four photographers also work in the Hyderabad office though they are considered more to be a part of the bureau than the desk.

The Hyderabad desk is responsible for the creation of first six pages of the daily newspaper. Pages 7, 9 and 10 which are the nation pages are created in Cochin. The edit page (page no.8), Page 11 (world), pages 12 and 13 (markets and business) and pages 14 to 16 (sports) are created in Chennai.

The desk keeps to its daily schedule without fail. A meeting consisting of the resident editor, the news editor, the chief of bureau, DNEs, photographers, chief sub editors etc is held everyday at 6.30 pm. Apart from the review of the previous day’s newspaper, selection of the lead stories and the placement of most of the news items are discussed and finalised.

The New Indian Express comes out with two editions daily. The deadline for the first edition is 10:15 pm. The reporters can hand in their stories until 9 -9:15 pm. The agency copy also roll in till this time. The newspaper subscribes to copy from PTI, IANS, AFP and AP. The news editor specified that though the deadline for handing in the stories is 9:15 pm, they do not wait for this time to start the production. It happens simultaneously but after 9:15 pm, the pages are laid to bed. At 10:15 pm, the pages are sent for process and printing at Bovanpally. The deadline for the late city edition is 1:45 am. Thus, it can be seen that the entire process is a chain reaction with each person depending upon the previous person to finish their job on time. Only then can the paper roll out in time. To the question whether the first edition and the late city edition will have huge differences, Mr. Subramaniam told us that a lot of news like crime, accidents etc. happen at night. Hence, there is almost always quite a lot of different news in the late city edition.

As is mostly misconstrued, the editing of the copy is not done strictly through the line of hierarchy. Just because the hierarchy is in place does not mean that the sub editor leaves a majority of the jobs to the senior sub editors. According to the news editor, it is generally agreed that the chief sub-editors are responsible for the pages. Each chief sub-editor looks into the pages of each other as well. This is to prevent any unconscious human error. Thus everybody is responsible for everything. Ultimately the news editor has to approve all the pages.

Unlike the olden days, the proof readers have no place in the modern newsroom. Since the entire work has been computerised, the editors themselves check the pages for mistakes. The New Indian Express makes use of in-house software called Win Editor for editing. It is linked to a database which provides help to the editors. The pages are designed by the designers in collaboration with the editors. They use Adobe Indesign CS3 for the layout. There is an engineer who takes care of the maintenance of these softwares. They also make use of an internal website to communicate with the other employees in other bureaus.

There is another section in the desk called scanning section who are responsible for scanning the photographs and making necessary changes like cropping, providing sufficient light to the photo and processing it. They have to take care of the advertisements too which come from the ad agencies. They check the print quality of the given ads and if needed, they boost it. Though these scanners carry out purely technical work in the news papers, they are also considered as journalist and are paid like them. They enjoy all the privileges of a normal journalist.

The people who live in the city are commonly very keen towards the things which happen in and around the city. That means proximity is very important in the profession of journalism these days. Regarding this, almost all newspapers have a city special pull out with the daily except on Sunday. The city pull-out of the The New Indian Express is ‘Expresso’ which deals with the city happenings. Most of the news which appears in ‘Expresso’ is soft news and features. The ‘Expresso’ has a separate Desk and Bureau. At the desk there is one editor under whom four reporters cum editors work.

The New Indian Express has quite a few sister publications. They include Kannada Prabha, Dinamani (Tamil Nadu), Tamil Nadu Express and Malayalam Varika. They used to own Andhra Prabha but they have sold it off now. Apart from this, the newspaper itself has its bureaus spread across south India. In Andhra Pradesh, they have their reporters present in 19 out of the 23 districts. They have their bureaus in Tirupati, Rajamuhndry, Vijaywada, Vishakapatnam etc.

The tables at the newspaper desk were traditionally arranged in a semi-circle fashion. But with the computerization of most of the work, this system is no longer followed. At The New Indian Express office, each editor was provided with his/her own cubicle with their own computer terminal.

Though the office space of The New Indian Express seems small, all the major functions go on quite smoothly in it. They follow the policy of team work and no matter what the hierarchy is, they believe in each one being responsible for everything.

We also talked to one of the sub editors, Mr. Rahul Ganguly, at the Indian Express daily supplement, Expresso. To the questions asked to him, he gave replies that were quite informative. The editors at the Expresso come at around 3 pm and stay till late night. Since there are only four sub-editors cum reporters, they do the editing and designing as a team. All the sub-editors are allowed access to other people’s news but generally do not interfere too much. There isn’t any specific number of articles that each sub-editor works on but all they are divided quite equally. Though the job can be stressful at times, they manage their social and family life along with it quite well.


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