Saturday, July 07, 2007

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Being TFE-Editor

Writing an article is an art of arranging all your articles in an articulate way. It’s like preparing a dish for the first time, garnishing and decorating it with all the spices, nuts, toppings and other add-ons you have in your kitchen. Albeit serving it hot might not be necessary. Some articles require to be presented right when the iron is hot. There are others which are classics and can be relished anytime like a dessert. An avid reader generally knows what she/he is looking for and picks novels from among a favourite set of authors. But the most popular forms of print media – newspapers and magazines take the reader to rides of many different writers - some experienced, and others innovative and fresh.

For a change, let’s try to find out what it takes to get a magazine sailing around and connecting with people. There are two ways of looking at it – the conventional one, and the new and efficient B-style.

The conventional style is simple and boring. You ask for contributions, scrutinize the articles, and print.

Innovation is embraced in the B-style. First and foremost, you decide with the co-editors what purpose the magazine stands for – profit-motive, popularity, social cause, editors’ ego-satisfaction (Ya, some magazines do prefer the articles of editors and their friends over better ones) etc. Next comes creating a code of conduct for the team of writers and correspondents to accomplish the goals of the magazine. This may mean rejecting an article which may spark-off popularity of the magazine but is ethically wrong. The ethics have already been defined by you in the set of values of the magazine.

The team with the best players usually does win. Your magazine attracts talent if it enjoys a good brand value, otherwise you’ll have to make a brand out of it. Let’s say you’re already a prestigious brand. This is one very fortunate case in which people may offer you services in lieu of almost nothing. But there lies the catch. If you don’t owe them anything on ground, you are not at the helm. In such a case, you can’t make them even maintain any standard, let alone raising it; unless you’re one hell of a dynamic leader whom employees look up to. So get your volunteers under your nose – either through felicitations, recognition or other incentives. Now that you’re ready with an efficient team – all atop the chariot, with you being the charioteer; everything seems so perfect. To be frank, the task has just begun.

No matter how well you assign different happening places to your correspondents and create different departments to cover the events of your region, you’ll always miss the most sensational news unless you have junta on your side. Ya, it’s the public which is present everywhere, ready with its inquisitive and peeping eyes to witness an event then and there. A good column of feedback calls for a good participation of public and brings your readers to your side.

Congratulations, you’ve come really far and received a dream-collection of articles. Duh-uh, copycats at work! You’re again in deep trouble. Believe it or not, most of the stuff you get is either the same or a modified version of something printed elsewhere. Your brand is in danger. Google everything up to make sure the contributions don’t get a match; show them to people who have seen enough – perhaps that’s all you can do to save your face apart from taking a written affirmation from the contributors about the authenticity of their submissions. Now that you’ve got the package ready, one reason of a misfire may be failure in the race against time. Make time your friend and you’ve got a brand new issue of TFE rocking the wings and common rooms of the hostels and the departments of the campus.

More than anything else, the duty of the top management of any organization is to find out and eliminate the probability of possible misfires that can take place. – Tushar (Ex Coc. As. Sec. IIT Madras)

After those serious talks, let’s come over to some behind-the-curtain scenes. The primary job of an editor is to beg for contributions. On beholding cute girls, IITians are known for rolling-out their tongues with droplets of long-cherished saliva trickling down. Your first duty as a TFE editor is to beat that in-built crave for the rarer sex with your voracious appetite for long and nonsensical articles. Such literary masterpieces not only leave a reader dazed but also perform the holy job of filling out more and more pages of your magazine. Fortunately, the editors are adept at vomiting out unpalatable groups of words that do not make a complete sense. Therefore, ghostwriting articles for filling out the void pages of their magazine comes naturally to them. Apparently, some of the editors have won nominations at the Guinness World Records for ghostwriting the maximum number of literary works in an Asian language (ref: TFE Hindi Jan ’07).

Jokes apart, a magazine is not a representative of the mindset of its editors or some small bunch of correspondents. It is a mirror of the readers. Especially a campus magazine is the face of the quality of education and values bestowed upon its students by the institution which has its name inscribed on the cover of the magazine. But a proactive participation of readers in bulk is necessary to testify that. This article is certainly not intended to serve as a clarion call for the hidden budding writers roaming around the campus. It is also not meant to fill up void spaces of the magazine, perhaps ;). It is just a way of expressing my gratitude to Windows and Gates for the wonderful support they have given to my writing career by giving me Word. Pun is so much fun, indeed.


Condom said...

Dude u rock!!!

Czar said...


craving to love life said...

nice inspiration for anyone hu's thinkin o starting a magazine or book o paper,...gr8,...