How did your first year look like, and what was your first impression of BSP?
Most people come to IITD and explore all the clubs, and I went through the same process. I was interested in reading and writing, so I knew I’d try out something in that domain. I discovered BSP on a tour of stalls. We used to have hard copy magazines back then, and chief editors stood there to explain what BSP does. So I thought I would probably try out BSP in my second year. In the second semester, I was introduced to BSP much more extensively when working for Gazettale. Our seniors mentored us throughout the making of the magazine. That was the first full-fledged introduction to what BSP does, and we tried to do it ourselves. That experience probably pushed me to fill out the role of a journalist in BSP in my second year. Also, during my winter break, I tried making a short magazine, which was a pleasant learning experience.
What was your prime motivation to get into BSP?
If I were to pin it down, my prime motivation for joining BSP was writing itself. I wanted to write for a more formal setup, and that’s what everybody talked about in my first year. Suppose you’re going to write formally or for an organization, in that case, you could try scriptwriting in Dramatics or try journalism in BSP. Another thing was the community where you meet like-minded people around you.
You have been a journalist, a Chief Ed, and now the DGSec. Could you tell us how the journey has been so far and how your tasks changed according to your role?
I do rate my tenure as a journalist higher than my tenure in other roles. As a journalist, you are engaged in making a written piece. Let’s say an article, you are really writing it, grueling it, and working on the finer details. You have that driving seat control in your hand! Of course, you have Chief Eds supervising it. As a journalist, I enjoyed that process. I took interviews and wrote theses. I remember, the first interview I had was with a person I hadn’t interacted with before, and now he is one of my closest friends. We reported for the inquirer, wrote a piece on ‘M.tech fees hike.’ Then I also worked on the organizing side of BSP in setting up Lit Mart. Even as a chief editor, I enjoyed it most because I tried to keep myself involved in writing. I was not directly involved in writing as the role shifted to reviewing work and making sure things worked smoothly. I recall an incident in the First edition of Lit Mart. We were struggling to find jury members to judge entries from all across the country. So there was a jury member who called us one day prior and told us that she could not make it because she had not booked her flight ticket. We were under budgetary constraints, and we were in a fix. So Vyomesh, who this story is about, basically calls this jury member and makes her book her flight tickets on her expenses. She came, judged the event. Later on, also judged the Gazettale. So it’s now a running joke of how Vymesh ‘charmed’ her into booking her flight tickets. Sometimes things do get stressful at BSP, like what happened when we wrote about the freshmen survey on the COVID batch. We had to use a paid survey platform, and we had a limited subscription for like a fortnight. So we had to survey and analyze the data to write about it. Situations like these happen when there is some time crunch situation that occurs.
The switch to the online mode has made BSP go paperless. We may return back to offline mode very soon. What has BSP thought about that?
Until this covid scenario, we had not used the potential of social media to its fullest. When the pandemic started, it was mostly forced to switch towards the digitization of BSP. Until lately, everything at BSP was being printed. But now we have realized the scope of digital media, and I think the future batches would be somewhat adept at accessing things BSP offers on a screen. I can’t say we would completely stop printing content by BSP. We have to very cautiously divide what to print and what to be made fully digital. We will definitely scale down on printing, but I don’t think going completely paperless would be possible. But yes, a hybrid sort of situation is most probable.
In your manifesto, you have talked about your plans for a bi-monthly series. What was the background vision behind it that this is something BSP needs to do?
As a journalist, a designer, or even a developer, you get to interview people and write reports. But there is a certain lack of freedom because you must have other ideas beyond the scope of the work you have been given. That called out a need for a dedicated outlet for them to get a chance to express themselves. Until now, chief editors have been handling the bi-monthly series. But journalists, designers will be handed over the work gradually. So the primary reason for this series would be that journalists need to have more freedom to write as themselves. The point of it being delivered directly to the students and has no middle man in terms of authorities allows journalists to express themselves without constraint.
You talked about accountability and reporting things about campus extensively in your propositions. Could you elaborate on the background thought behind it?
Apart from everything we do in the creative space, our responsibility includes holding people to account, i.e., the people in positions of responsibility, the GSecs, the DGSecs, and the secretaries. That is the reason we keep ‘Meet the GSecs’ and ‘Manifesto reviews’. Holding people to account is something a media body generally does, and we all feel strongly about that. We keep doing stuff like holding the administration to account, like the ‘The Fault in Senate’ article. We could not do it with student leaders and student heads before because of conflict of interests; if you are a really good friend with a GSec, it gets hard for you to write a lengthy report in the position of criticizing them in some way. Hence, we are writing an editorial policy to take care of a situation like this. Let us see where that goes.
Since you have been in BSP for a significant amount of time, what are the things you thought should have been different in BSP, and are there plans to change it?
There are always some things that could be improved. I feel there is scope for improvement in the way we do things. The role of BSP as a news deliverer is something we can improve on. Just look at the part of a media body, which is the first to break any news to their readers and keep them informed, which is not really what we do now. I essentially mean BSP becoming a student newspaper somewhere down the line, just like there are student newspapers in good universities. Or maybe just improving the frequency at which we report so that people see BSP as a place for news of what’s happening at the latest, which BSP has not tapped into yet.
Where have we reached on building an editorial policy and the other new things planned?
The drafting of editorial policy is still in a nascent stage. It will still have to go through layers and layers of approvals. We have started working on it. Both Muskaan and I want to see it to completion. Newsletters are already in place in other new things, and I feel the chief-eds and the journos did an excellent job. What is essential in newsletters is not only the quality but also maintaining the frequency. We are planning to conduct workshops for our journalists, technical editors, and web designers too.
Interview by: Ashrut Sinha