BSP GSec Yash Sheth
Q: You mentioned relaunching Citizen Journalists as Freelance Correspondents. Why did BSP need a relaunch and what do you plan to do differently this time?
A: ‘Citizen Journalist’ did not sound very appealing and looks confusing on a CV. As a result, it is not something people want to apply for. Freelance Correspondent is part of the common parlance and is easier to relate to, something we felt when we floated the form this time. The roles would mostly be the same, the only difference being we’ve recruited them at the start and they can choose to work on any of the upcoming projects, as it suits them. (Earlier we used to recruit them as per our needs, for project-specific roles.)
Q: Increasing PG participation has been common in all manifestos across all boards. What are PG correspondents and how else do you plan to increase PG participation?
A: PG participation has been a hot topic and it's difficult to stimulate a response from them because either they don't know or they do not care about boards and clubs that much. Last year we had a PG journo but the output was not really there. What I have observed is that PG students like to work on only selected projects that they are interested in. The natural solution was to take them in as freelancers to enable them to have that freedom. Right now we have a full-time PG journo and 5-6 correspondents, and we’re also planning to publish a PG Inception this year.
Q: You’ve stressed on Vernacular inclusivity in your manifesto. What are your plans and how do you plan to stop it from being Hindi-dominated only?
A: Most clubs have not explored regional languages that much because scripting, designing and publishing is a challenge, even on social media. Even at BSP, we don't have chief editors to proofread pieces written in many different languages. But we need that inclusivity and to start things, we have recruited freelancers who would occasionally publish stories and other creative pieces in vernacular languages. This time we are planning to cover 5 regional languages - Telugu, Bengali, Marathi, Gujrati and Hindi, and publish them on dedicated corners on our website. We’ll consciously have to take care that all languages are covered and it sort of also depends on the output from the correspondents.
Q: A lot of paper gets wasted in publishing the magazines and only a small population reads it. Was that the reason for switching to recycled paper and what would the cost implications of that be?
A: Yeah, a big chunk (around 60%) of our budget goes into publishing these magazines and as you mentioned, hostels don't take it that seriously. So we were planning to switch to a lower grade of paper to cut costs and also push the installation of BSP stalls across campus as our main vehicle of distribution. However, for the online sem, we have planned to not print anything on paper and use the money to boost our online reach. If we restart in February, we’ll take a call and probably publish in a limited amount and distribute through our stalls.
Q: You mentioned using Facebook ads to boost readership. Will the focus be on increasing readership within the campus or building an online presence beyond IITD?
A: It's actually both. We have around 12k likes on our page, Vox (IITK) has 15k, Insight(IITB) has 80K. The focus for me is definitely to increase campus readership, but I wouldn't really mind if outsiders also start reading. We already ran a pilot promotion a week back and were able to increase page follows by an appreciable amount, so we are looking to now expand it.
Q: What are your plans for an online Literati?
A: The BSP team is up for conducting it - probably around December after placement season. We don't want to do a very large event - a few competitions and some discussions and talks. With our budget this year we would want to bring in some really reputed people to create a buzz. One other format that was under discussion was to put up questions collected through social media and have people answer them, sort of like Quora does. However small the event is, we sort of want to make it impactful.
Q: How do you plan to go for an online UG and PG orientation?
A: So usually BSW does tour of stalls, which is our primary mode of orientation for freshers. This year they are planning to make an interactive website with different boards on different pages. BSP will have a video message there and will showcase UG and PG Inception there. Apart from that as an online mode of the tour of stalls, BSW is also planning to do Zoom meetings with breakout rooms for each group, where they’ll be briefed about all the boards and their activities. An individual orientation does not add any extra value. We will have an event or competition for freshers as an ice-breaker and will also be going ahead with a freshman survey. PGs have already been boarded, and we’ll follow along with the institute’s orientation for them.
Yash's manifesto does not aim to achieve everything under the sun. BSP has been doing well for the past couple years and Yash’s manifesto level-ups it on all fronts. Focus on vernacular inclusivity is fresh and sets the standards for all boards. With a limited budget, he seems to have everything in order to boost readership through Facebook ads and organize an impactful Literati.
Renaming ‘Citizen Journalists’ seems like a sensible move and giving freelancers the freedom to choose their projects should bring out an improved output
He takes a slow and gradual approach to increase PG participation, through correspondents and a PG Inception.
Vernacular inclusivity has been ignored for too long and Yash takes a step in the right direction here, but the constraints are real - designing, scripting and publishing. Though he wasn't clear on how to not let this be completely hijacked by Hindi
Paper wastage is real. With an online sem, he might not get to implement his plans fully, but whenever he does, it’ll be interesting to see it the stall-based distribution system affects readership
There's a big question mark on all fests this sem, but a small impactful Literati may be possible
Over the previous years, BSP was one of the last clubs freshers were introduced to and there wasn't much talk about it initially. Hopefully, that will change this year.
Link to Manifesto:
Interview by Om Krishna