Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Fine Piece of Reporting - K.C.Vijaya Kumar's Report in The Hindu, Bangalore, March 24, 2015 on the 50 Not Out! Event

K.C. Vijaya Kumar's reporting of the event is wonderful. Read his article on the launch of 50 Not Out! at Bangalore which came out today.


Not because the article is about me - but simply because it is such a good professional job. I have seen reporters not coming to the event at all and still reporting, who make up 'quotes' without even talking to the people concerned (a leading publication's reporter did that with the same event), who completely miss the point, the purpose, the slant of what is going on. But once in a while we come across a professional job and it makes the heart sing. Or to use Vijaya Kumar's observation 'makes me nod my head'. (That made me smile too)

So what was good about this reporting. Firstly Vijaya Kumar came well ahead of time for the event, sat himself in a place where he could get a good view of proceedings. He completely got the gist of what was on show as one can make out. I loved the title of the article 'Seaming philosophies' - a clever pun that mixes the 'seaming' aspect of the fast bowlers' trade (two on the dais) and the attempt of the book to connect or 'seam' together cricket and philosophy. You get a hint of what's to come - there's intelligence, thoughtfulness and humour on show already.

He sets off the mood when he mentions the stereotype of fast bowlers - the ones with the brains in the knees as they used to say when we played - and how Javagal Srinath was quick to say that he was happy a fast bowler wrote this book. (And not a smug batsman types.) When I wrote the book I attempted to merge the philosophies and practice of cricket and life and Vijaya Kumar took off from the perfect platform there (there's no mention of life lessons which is on the blurb until the end of the second para, and even then its to support the philosophical trait he puts forth - if he took off on the life-lessons angle it would have been lazy reporting).

His reproduction of Anita Nair's speech was perfect and I loved the way he wrote 'mental' exercises in brackets. His take on Srinath's attitude to fast bowling which was all about the outcome and not so much the process of 'aggression' and then Srinath's fine words about the importance of reading captured the essence well.

Vijay caught the small things - like my habit of nodding when a co-speaker speaks, my discomfort at the praise coming my way - and this is what heightens the story and puts you back there. For those who missed the event these story convey it well and enhance the experience for those who were there. The words he chose to write about from my speech were exactly those that would have conveyed the essence.

And like all good journalists and writers he signs off with a wry comment at the end that puts a smile on your face - the question about my writing pattern so far. A cricket fiction, a romance, a cricket self-help so would there be a romance self-help next? Asked by my friend Puppy and prompted by another friend Hari, it did put me in a spot. What the h..? So its apt that Vijay ends that with an observation on how it left me stumped which was true. More importantly for the one who reads a newspaper in the morning it puts a smile on his face and that is the hallmark of great journalism / writing - to add to it all and put some creative thought to it so the world is a better place for it.

The one sensible question in the q and a also came from Vijay who asked why there was not so much literature from cricketers which is an interesting question. If someone like me who has played little cricket can write about cricket one wonders what wonderful stuff the greats can come up with - Rahul, Srinath, Anil, Laxman - they all read and write well.  I am certain they will.

Well done Vijay. Its such a refreshing change to see a good job, well done. It also shows how clear your thought process is - not to dwell on the negatives, look for the positives, seek out the story behind the event and to highlight it quickly, intelligently and wittily. Writers give themselves away very easily through their writing - and if you have revealed yourself, you have only revealed a wonderful, mature, clear thinking, human side. I am sure there are great things awaiting you in the world of writing and journalism. Good luck.

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