BSP GSec - Ritika Jain
Updated: Oct 31, 2022
Can you tell us about your first year at IITD? What things did you explore during your first year?
I was like most freshers on campus, who explored many different clubs and societies in their first year. In the first semester, I participated in many BRCA clubs however I realized by the end of the semester that I did not want to be a part of BRCA. During my second semester, I actively worked in Enactus and midway during this semester was when I actually tried to give BSP a shot.
What was your first impression about BSP, and what made you join BSP?
This is actually an interesting story. When my elder brother was a student at IIT Delhi, he used to bring home copies of Inquirer, Inception and Muse, so I was familiar with BSP work before joining IITD. When I read those magazines, I would feel astounded that they were actually produced by a student-run publication body. I had never witnessed any such body before and was really fascinated by it. I found it incredible that BSP was a body that could raise questions to any authority, something that other societies do not usually do, and this was what attracted me to BSP.
I have had a lot of ‘firsts’ in BSP. During my freshmen year, I participated in Slam Poetry for the first time during Literati. I also tried out storytelling as well as wrote articles for the first time in Gazettale, BSP’s inter-hostel magazine-making competition
How has your experience been so far in working with BSP?
To sum it up in one word, I’d say my experience has been surreal. I had initially been recruited into BSP as a volunteer but was soon promoted to Journalist. While my tenure as a journalist went quite well, I feel that I completely fell in love with BSP when I became a Chief Editor and I became addicted to the Board.
I feel that BSP is a Board that really makes you think and question everything through the content that it publishes. I believe that the best part about BSP is that it is an independent body not involved in any politics. So we are free to cover any issues or wrongdoings on campus and hold any authority or board accountable without worrying about politics. Moreover, we also have the freedom to question not just students but also the administration, and this enables us to bring forth unbiased journalism and helps us connect to the student community.
Most of the work in BSP during the previous tenure was done online, but now as the institute shifts towards the complete offline mode of operation, what are your plans for dealing with the same?
I am personally very excited about BSP returning to the offline medium in this tenure. We have been scrolling through the magazines on our gadgets for the past couple of years but as writers and designers, watching them materialize as physical copies would be incredible.
Yet, BSP has amassed a large digital readership on social media in the past two years, and we would continue to post our work regularly through our channels. In addition, we plan to bring back the printed version of our magazines like Inquirer and Inception in this tenure. We are also exploring printing posters containing QR codes for our articles and posting them all around campus so that those who find the topic interesting can easily read the entire piece. Moreover, in 2019 we had BSP stalls or stands. These stands would be placed all over campus and would house copies of the magazines for everyone to read.
During your tenure, how much emphasis will BSP give to the new video journalism aspect? And what are your plans regarding the same?
BSP will give a lot of emphasis to video journalism in this tenure. I believe that, in general, the attention span of readers on social media has reduced significantly during the past two years. There is an inertia to scrolling multiple slides filled with text even when the issue is important, or the article is engaging. Many people might just scroll to the next post or reel or a different website. Thus, branching into video journalism will enable us to expand our viewership and engage more people.
We have already started working towards this, and even this series has a video journalism element to it. We would also be releasing video trailers for Inquirer and covering events on campus in the form of video journalism.
This is a new segment for all of us at BSP, and I believe it has a lot of potential and would be a really fun segment to explore.
You have talked about collaborating with other IIT's media bodies in your manifesto. Which media bodies would you like to collaborate with, and what are some pan-IIT issues/topics you believe would be suitable for the same?
I have gone through the Instagram channels of the media bodies of various IITs. For example, Vox from IIT Kanpur, Insights from IIT Bombay and The 5th Estate from IIT Madras are all really robust media bodies that put out exemplary work. I believe that each media body has its strengths and weaknesses, and there is a lot that we can learn from each other. This is one way in which a pan-IIT collaboration will be beneficial.
There is actually a WhatsApp group of the student heads of the media bodies of various IITs, and there have been discussions of collaboration on various topics and issues. One possibility is to do a comparative analysis of various issues across IITs. For example, we could cover topics like differences in academic or administrative policies like audit. IIT Madras has a robust feedback mechanism, whereas the feedback system of IIT Delhi is opaque and appears to be ineffective. IIT Kanpur and Bombay have already implemented cross-gender entry in hostels. We can also compare and contrast the strengths and shortcomings of the different placement cells of various IITs. These are some of the topics I believe and be covered under the pan-IIT collaboration.
You have addressed the need to increase inter-vertical interaction within the board. What made you feel that this step was necessary, and how do you plan to take this forward?
I have spent two years in BSP, first as a journalist and then as a chief editor. I do not recall interacting freely with the technical editors during my tenure as a journalist. It was as though there were two exclusive segments within the Board, the journalists and the technical editors. I also did not have much communication with the design chief editors. There was some friction between the two segments, which hindered the cross-communication of design and writing ideas. Even as a Chief Editor, I noticed that the team of journalists and designers did not feel comfortable approaching a chief editor of the other vertical.
There was also a misconception within the team that BSP work involves 80% contribution of the writers and only 20% contribution of the designers. This is not true because design is a crucial and essential impact of BSP work. Design is what attracts readers to our articles. Many people would not read our articles if they were not published in an attractive and presentable format, something which the designers provide.
Inter-vertical interaction will be extremely beneficial in improving the working of the Board. For instance, this year in Gazettale, we used to have full team meetings with both the writers and the designers. This allowed everyone to put their minds together on all aspects of each piece, and together, we came up with incredible ideas for content and design. This kind of free flow of ideas is essential for any team.
To increase interaction, we have planned to include the technical editors and web editors in the content and ideation meetings for all articles. Earlier, the designers were assigned to design the articles only after the content was ready. So they felt that they weren't a part of the project. Making them a part of the project from the beginning will make them feel included and would bring out new ideas and perspectives.
BSP is a Board that has a wide reader base and outreach. How do you think this platform can be utilised to promote the interests of the IITD community?
BSP has been using its platform and readership to promote the interests of the IITD community for many years now. For example, last year, we published a two-part series called Pain which dealt with the dreadful issue of sexual harassment in IIT Delhi. Sexual harassment is one such issue which is never talked about openly and only discussed in hushed voices. When BSP published the article, I remember a few of my male friends approached me and expressed that they were completely unaware that such incidents were taking place on campus. We conducted a survey as a part of the series, and I was shattered by reading about the experiences that some women have had in the institute. After that, I felt responsible for doing that article to raise awareness about the menace and prevalence of harassment in IIT Delhi and initiate conversations about it. The inclusivity series was another such series I felt extremely strongly about. We had two articles in the series, the LGBTQ+ article and women in sports and reading the survey responses for the LGBTQ+ article was really disheartening.
I believe that while other Boards do amazing work and also tackle these issues at their level, it is BSP which has not just the responsibility but also the ability to raise these issues and initiate discussions and conversations around them. As a student publication body, BSP has the power to question all wrongdoers and put forth these issues in front of the entire IIT Delhi community.
What has been the most memorable incident you can recall while working as a journalist or a chief editor?
Last year, BSP covered how the provision for I-grade was being misused during the online semesters. Many students were allegedly using this provision to forgo the examinations of some courses and appear for them at a later stage. Students were badgering doctors to issue medical certificates by faking illnesses. Moreover, this crowd was affecting the students as well as some senior citizens who were genuinely sick and needed a doctor’s attention. When I went to the IITD hospital, there was a long queue of students there, and I had to wait for 2 hours just to get a five-minute checkup. The doctor even asked me if I had a genuine illness or just wanted a medical certificate.
After this incident, I messaged on the BSP group about covering this issue, and within a couple of hours, BSP journalists were on the scene talking to doctors, hospital staff and students regarding the same and the article was released within 3-4 days.
Any final thoughts or messages that you would like to share with the readers?
I do have a message for the readers. While BSP endeavours to identify and cover all the major events, happenings and issues on campus, there might be certain topics that the BSP team is not aware of. So I would urge everyone to approach any BSP team member about any issue or concern that they would like us to cover. If you think there is any event or wrongdoing in the institute that BSP has not covered or if you have any feedback about our work, you can contact any team member you know or even reach us on our Instagram ID.
In addition, BSP has a lot of exciting projects in the works, from video journalism to creative segments, we have something for everyone, and you should look really forward to it.
Interviewed by: Md Faizan Raza
Graphics by: Prisha Jain, Shivam Jhanwar