What were your interactions with BSP during your first year?
Like most freshers, my first introduction to BSP was through Inception, the freshers magazine. I was amazed by the quality of the content in Inception and how it was a comprehensive guide to everything in IIT Delhi. I was fascinated by the way it was designed and presented and felt that the people behind it must be really interesting.
I also remember picking up copies of Muse and Inquirer from the BSP stalls in the Himadri lobby. I found Muse to be really intriguing since it was outsourced and provided an avenue for the students to express their creativity. Moreover, I read an article on casual sexism in an edition of Inquirer and was astounded that there was someone on campus raising such issues. This is what attracted me to BSP and motivated me to join the Board.
What motivated you to apply for a techie position in BSP? What was your impression of the role, and how did you find the job once selected?
As a fresher, I was inclined towards literature and writing. However, after going through some of the magazines and publications put out by BSP, particularly Inquirer, I was fascinated by the way they were designed. Soon, the pandemic hit, and we were all stuck in a state of stagnancy. That’s when I decided to explore graphic designing and tried out softwares like Adobe suite. I found that I really enjoyed designing and wanted to pursue it further. My second year started before the Design Club was formed, and BSP was one of the only campus bodies with a dedicated design vertical. So, as the recruitment process for BSP began, I applied both as a technical editor and a journalist. I got selected as the former and was told that my role would be flexible between both verticals.
As a technical editor, I had to design Instagram posts for BSP's official Instagram handle and articles that would be published on the BSP website. The design chief editors were extremely helpful; they guided me and provided insights into my graphic design skills. Apart from graphic design, I was also involved in some journalistic projects, one of them being an article on OCS, it's functioning and discrepancies in it. I conducted a few interviews for the internship series. Despite my tenure being online, it was a period when I was able to hone my skills and pursue my interests.
You’ve been a part of BSP for quite some time now - first as a technical editor, then as a chief editor, and now as the DGsec. How has your journey evolved over time, and which parts have been the most enjoyable/ challenging for you?
As a technical editor at BSP, I was predominantly involved in groundwork, which included writing articles and designing content. Upon becoming a chief editor, I realised that a new dimension of accountability and responsibility was introduced to my role. Chief editors are expected to ideate content, assign work to journalists and technical editors, and manage the entire team. Apart from this, we also had to make sure that the journalists, technical and website editors were actually absorbing and assimilating our suggestions and experience into their own skillsets in order to maintain the legacy of the Board.
Even though BSP isn’t very hierarchical, both as a technical editor and a chief editor, I had someone within the board senior to me to guide me through hurdles. However, as the DGSec, that doesn’t exist. I won’t say that it is intimidating since we still have our chief editors for suggestions and guidance. However, the fact that every decision I make from now on is going to affect the entire board does however seem quite unnerving. I feel that as time passes, I will get comfortable with this increased accountability and responsibility.
Most of your BSP tenure has been during the online semesters. What apprehensions did you have pertaining to that, especially during your tenure as a chief editor?
My first year at BSP was completely online, and something I missed back then was team bonding and collaborating with the team on projects. We had just transitioned to online college, and probably that was the reason most of us weren’t really friends within the team and weren’t comfortable getting to know each other online. Our interactions at work were also meagre, as most of the design parts were distributed among technical editors independently.
As a chief editor, I, along with my co-chief editor, set out to improve the bonding within the team. I think that we were eventually able to achieve this throughout all the verticals of the Board. This was a major apprehension for us, and I’m really proud of the fact that we were able to overcome it successfully.
A major paradigm shift this semester would be to settle back into the offline functioning of all the boards in college. What does BSP have in mind to smoothen the change? Are there any important getaways from the online semesters that you’d like to keep on board?
The functioning of BSP in the coming years can be characterised as a hybrid between online and offline working. We would definitely like to utilise the facilities and experiences that the offline semester has to offer. We plan to have more in-print publications, and we are already in talks with vendors for our first offline project, Inquirer. We’d like to have more offline interactions and interviews and also want journalists, techies, and web editors to have stronger collaboration facilitated by the offline setting. For our readers, we definitely want them to experience in-print BSP publications. However, we also realise that the online mode offers improved flexibility and efficiency, especially when it comes to urgent tasks and hard deadlines. That is a feature of the online setting that we appreciate and would like to preserve.
In your manifesto, there seems to be an emphasis on visual content such as videos, comics, animations, reels etc. What were your motivations behind this idea, and what preparation would BSP have to do to implement it?
One of the major points in my manifesto was to venture into video journalism. It’s a major part of the plan for the current session, one which we’re acting on even right now through this interview. My motivation to apply for this position was to develop a much stronger video-editing vertical which is closely aligned with the design vertical. I feel that BSP hasn’t yet dabbled into video journalism, and that is something I’d want the board to explore.
During the online semesters, BSP was mostly limited to publishing text-based content on Instagram and the website. I feel that with respect to the design aspect, visual content is something the board is yet to explore to its full potential. It is something that the audience finds appealing, as every one might not be interested in reading an entire article. We’ve previously made trailers for the director’s interview and would like to cover events on campus through video journalism eventually. I’d also like Bluffington to diversify to a graphical format because that’s an entertaining representation of wit. I feel that BSP has been limited in these aspects and would like the design chief editors to carry this forward.
You’ve talked about creating visual arts and literary arts portals for the campus community to share their content. How do you think this increased participation and expression would impact the inherent spirit of journalism at BSP?
Literary arts was envisioned to be a creative portal without a specific focus on journalism. We’ve imagined it to be a creative outlet for the IITD community, where people can put up their literary works such as stories, poems, etc. Parallel to this, I also have plans for a visual arts portal which would focus on drawings, graphic designs, and comics. I feel that comics can be an entertaining outlet for journalism. Both these portals wouldn’t have a direct impact on the journalistic activities done at BSP. Rather they would present an opportunity for the IITD community to share their literary work because, surprisingly, there isn’t any such portal yet. We’re excited to see how this portal comes out to be.
How far do you think BSP has come in covering journalistically important topics while also remaining unbiased?
BSP has covered a good number of journalistically important issues while striving to maintain an unbiased stance on all of its articles. All of our projects involve opinions and reviews of many chief editors, journalists, and technical editors, and this process ensures that biases are balanced out, and an impartial stance is presented. Our ’Inclusivity Series’, published in April, is a good compilation of journalistically important issues. It contained a piece on women in sports and an article on the LGBTQ+ community. It was actually planned to be a long series, something we had ideated at the start of our tenure. I feel that with respect to covering journalistically important issues, there’s still a lot of scope for BSP.
While BSP has tried to cover important issues in the past, I think there have been times when we have lacked covering them in the right timeline. There have been issues that we’ve identified that we wanted to publish, but because there was no established mechanism to do it in a short span of time to maintain the relevance of the piece, some of those articles could not fall through. That is something we’re planning to work on this session because we definitely need a more frequent outlet for journalistic articles. We will have a team in place to carry that forward.
Do you feel there’s scope for identifying and covering certain sensitive issues in and around the campus?
As far as sensitive issues are concerned, I believe that as the media body of the institute, BSP carries the responsibility to bring to light issues that require open conversations. Casteism is one such issue, which we haven’t had the chance to do an in-depth analysis of. We’ve identified that within and outside the IITD community, including other IITs, it is a prominent concern among students, as well as faculty members. This is one such issue that we’d like to cover in our future endeavours.
Another such issue that we’ve identified is related to the offline elections conducted this year. The community has approached BSP to bring to light certain instances that happened behind the curtains during the elections, and we tried our best to cover all such grievances. However, since it is an extremely sensitive issue, covering it without due care could have had damaging consequences. Other than these two issues, I feel that there are still a lot of problems that exist on campus and in other IITs, which we all know of but rarely talk about.
I feel that the reason content on such issues hasn’t been able to fall through is that every sensitive topic carries with itself certain nuances that need to be taken care of. There needs to be a strong mechanism which ensures that right from the ideation to the publication of content based on these topics, all such nuances are given due importance. This mechanism is something that we’re definitely going to work on this year. For example, the project on casteism couldn’t be successful because it was extremely intricate and delicate, and we didn’t have a proper mechanism to analyse it to our satisfaction and journalistic standards.
One needs to gather opinions and information from scholars who are experts in that field to get an overview of matters which can be touched and those which can’t. While one needs to present things candidly and unbiasedly, one also must ensure that they’re not misinformed because even the slightest inaccuracy could lead to dire consequences. However, there certainly is a lot of scope for the identification and publication of more such sensitive issues.
Interview by - Gauri Agarwal
Graphics by - Prisha Jain, Shivam Jhanwar