KOLKATA, (C. M. Paul) – The editor of the oldest Catholic weekly in India (estd. 1839) has come up with a novel way to train reporters most of who are people of good will with no formal training in writing skills.
The two-month old editor and seasoned UCANews reporter, Jesuit Fr Julian Das says “most of the ‘reporters’ reporting for The Herald from parishes, religious institutions, archdiocesan commissions or youth groups are not trained in news report writing, and therefore it is a herculean task for the editor to turn their ‘reports’ into ‘news’.
He assures, that the new series entitled “The Herald Reporter’s Guide” starting 14 September, “is hoped to guide an aspiring ‘reporter’ to write news which can be easily accepted, not only by The Herald, but also by any other Christian publication.”
Fr Das adds, “purpose here is not so much to provide a theoretical basis, as to provide practical guidelines with examples and illustrations to highlight points from the context of Church in Bengal.”
Giving a common example Fr Das explains “a regular report of who lighted the lamp, who began with the opening prayer, what inaugural song was sung, who gave the talk, who were elected office bearers,” these are the boring and uninteresting details for a reader.
“A Small Christian Community having a training program is not news-worthy; it is too boring and uninteresting. [But] if the reporter finds out that most of the participants are illiterate, then that makes it a ‘news’; or if all of them are daily-wage earners and had come to attend the program, foregoing their wages, that makes the news interesting,” Fr Das says giving an example for choosing a news angle from a regular, routine event in the 3 column piece in the “Communication” page 15 of the weekly.
The annual program of a Catholic youth group can become an interesting ‘news’ if, for instance, the group decides during the program to look after a public park, by planting saplings of flower and herbal plants, and look after them during the year.