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Scholar-Journalist

My foray into the world of headlines and deadlines

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By Shradha Tiwari

“To write is human, to edit is divine,” said Stephen King. Precisely, that divinity fostered within me, as I joined the Editorial team of BylineByline is the annual magazine of Apeejay Institute of Mass Communication (AIMC).  A bunch of eighteen people together, fulfilling the editing responsibilities of the annual journal. It appeared to be an exciting task from outside but little did I know what tricky times were lying ahead.

It all began with a deadline for the submission of write-ups from different students across the batch. The editorial team helped the writers whenever needed. Soon, the writing contributions started pouring in, and we received 16 articles at one go. I was amazed to see the enthusiasm of my classmates. I remember being on call and counting the number of articles received concurrently. “16 articles, Bravo!” I exclaimed out of surprise. But, what would those 16 articles unfold? Would they confine themselves to only being quantity over quality?

Ironically, that was our job. It was for us to maintain the quality of the articles, no matter what we received. As they say, an editor can make sense even in non-sense. A less worthy content could become better if edited nicely. Having said that, aspiring media professionals know the art of spilling scribbles creatively. Our writers were media aspirants, as well. Ha-ha. You got me, right?

We divided the editorial team into two sub-groups and started proofreading all the articles. The first sub-group (including 12 members) dealt with grammar corrections and the first round of plagiarism checks. The second sub-group was of 4 members, including myself. And we followed the ‘Gatekeeping Model’ to edit these articles.

 As budding journalists, deadlines matter a lot to us. We kept the deadline for the completion of the first proofreading round as well. However, ‘too many cooks spoil the broth’ is no lie. Despite clear instructions, some confusion spread like wildfire amongst the team. Constant reminders proved to be the key. On the other hand, I can’t argue about it either. I used my 3 Cs of communication – Chaos, Clarity, and Coordination – for the functioning of a team from this experience. A team is one that faces issues, makes amends, gains clarity and coordinates like a whole towards the end.

The first phase of editing ended a day later than the deadline. My boastful claim of “budding journalists and deadline importance” mentioned above is thus reduced to the ashes. Rest in peace, Mr Claim! Now, it was time for the other sub-group to enter into the second proofreading and plagiarism check round. We were mentally prepared to face it head-on. Each member took four articles for editing. Having worked as an editor before, I presumed the task to be quite simple. But, out of the four articles I received, one article irked me quite some times. Making the content concise and meaningful took an exhausting three and a half hours. However, I found the editing amusing too. It was similar to running into the writer’s head and hugging the thoughts that were deemed fit and kicking out the irrelevant ones. Next, the second group jumped onto the ‘professional’ plagiarism check phase. Less plagiarism, more originality, was the much-anticipated result.

AIMC is known for its innovative traditions and practices. The writers of these articles had to use their creativity and attach an original picture related to the article. A handful of writers requested using the downloaded images with credits. “Make the picture using your brain, heart or magic! Just, create it, please,” I retorted once after losing my patience. Honestly, I realised the need for patience at that moment. The demand had been just for originality. Creative minds got at work and the editorial team played their little part there too.

It was December 13, 2021. The clock struck a quarter to five in the evening. I was with the other three members of the second sub-group. We ran the plagiarism check on the last article. All four of us stood up in sync. A mischievous grin lightened up the other three faces. While, I put forth my hand and we, simultaneously, gave a high-five to each other. “We did it!” said my friend Diksha with her winsome smile. 

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