Opinion

Barun Das Gupta – an uncompromising journalist with wisdom

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Barun Da expired in Kolkata on October 31 at the age of 87 years after a brief illness.

The news of his demise revived some old memories of my initial reporting days in the late nineties.

The passing away of veteran journalist Barun Das Gupta once again highlighted the diminishing breed of talented journalists who made a mark in the noble profession without having formal training from any school of journalism.

He epitomised ethical journalism and was widely respected in the journalist fraternity.

Barun Das Gupta expired in Kolkata on October 31 at the age of 87 years after a brief illness.

The news of his demise revived some old memories of my initial reporting days in the late nineties.

I had the privilege to cover a host of spot events in Guwahati when I had just started my journalistic career.

At that point of time, Barun Da, addressed by all in the media fraternity, was a revered name in Guwahati’s media arena.I had heard a lot about him but had no formal introduction.

I still fondly recall the day when at an assignment, I gained the courage to introduce myself to him to gather his wisdom about reporting techniques.

I was keen to do so ever since I had come to know that Barun Da did not have any formal diploma or degree to be a professional journalist.

I too ventured into the field of reporting without any conventional diploma or degree in journalism.

I asked Barun Da how to report a spot event and what were his basic drills to report.

As an ace reporter, he explained to me the nuances of reporting in the simplest way which I was subsequently trained in PTI, Dow Jones Newswires – The Wall Street Journal and Reuters- the first two paragraphs including the introduction of the news report should be ready in the mind as soon as the event gets over.

He used to frame the first two paragraphs while returning from the event.

By the time he reached his office cum residence, he was almost ready with the skeleton of the entire news report.

Empowered with the first two paragraphs, the rest of the report flew in naturally, and the full story was ready for instant filing to the desk without any wastage of time.

Barun Da was the special correspondent of ‘The Hindu’ in Guwahati for many years.

Once I accompanied him to his office cum residence at Chandmari to gather more words of wisdom that he gained over the years from his practical on-field experience.

He gave a valuable tip that day which I cherish to date.

In those days, I was trying to specialise in the field of economic journalism, more particularly in the niche area of oil reporting.

Barun Da advised me to gain exposure in general reporting first, and then venture into any specialised beat.

“This route will make you a better journalist in the future,” – these words of Barun da still echo in my ears.

After I left Guwahati for Delhi, my real grooming in journalism started with the Press Trust of India (PTI).

In PTI, the new inductees were put to vigorous drill for general news reporting. Once familiar with general techniques, they were assigned to cover a particular beat.

This commando-like drill gradually turned a trainee journalist into a specialised reporter.

I too covering a wide range of subjects in the initial years before venturing into a host of specialised economic beats with a host of globally acclaimed news organisations during my more than two-decades-long career as a reporter.

I must admit here that the words of wisdom about journalism that I gathered from Barun Da during my initial years of journalistic career were helpful in discharging my real-time reporting roles, especially the spot events for the global news organisations, during the later stages of my career.

My deepest reverence to one of the nationally renowned and widely respected journalists – Barun Das Gupta – who inspired many journalists in the Northeast during his two-decades-long association with the region. I am also in the brigade of his admirers.

The writer is a Delhi-based international journalist and a consulting editor of Bigwire.

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