Bitter test of first newspaper assignment
Bitter test of a first byline
My first newspaper reporting assignment and my byline carried along with it has left behind a bitter test in my mouth to this date. I have destroyed the not even A newspaper editor had promised me a job and when I visited the newspaper office that morning, I was asked to rush to a school and to file a story. The nature of the assignment indeed baffled me. A school teacher had assaulted a fifth standard school with a ruler and a leader of a students union had approached the newspaper editor to publish a news item. When I wondered what was wrong with a teacher punishing an errant student, the editor said that corporal punishment was against law and we must highlight this incident.
Along with the students union leader, I rushed to Ribandar, a couple of km from Panaji, where the school was located. The teacher couple who had founded the small school were surprised when I, along with a photographer and the student leader, approached them to seek their version of the assault. The husband who was his early sixties was too shocked to react to see newspaper persons arriving at doorsteps to give a bad publicity for his reputed school. His wife who was in an aggressive mood saw nothing wrong in punishing the child who, she said, was at that time attending her classes, having fully forgotten that she had been punished the previous day. When I briefed the newspaper editor about the visit, he excitedly said that there was a good 'copy' for publication. The next day the story written by me and heavily edited by the editor was published with my byline. The same day, the editor told me that I had been hired as a reporter with one day retrospective effect. The joy of getting a first job had no bounds. But I had a nagging feeling that I had committed some of kinds of injustice to the school's dedicated founders.
In my journalism career, I have had some proud moments and some not so proud moments. Some of the incidents have gone blur in memory with the passage of time and it is only when I wipe off the dust from the file of my old newspaper cuttings that faint memories of these incidents are revived. After a few years, I destroyed the clipping of my first byline but I have not managed to wipe out that incident from my memory.