Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Desk is mad or what?

Being a deskie myself some time ago, and then graduating to becoming a reporter, I can understand how annoying this can be.

When la desk simply sleeps through your copy and you see your story appearing the same way you filed it, with typos, spelling mistakes, blanks and swear words in next day's edition, it's not funny. Especially because all those silly mistakes make you look like the Idiot of the Millennium, who can't file a story to save his/her life.

Desk generally gets away with butchering your copy. The most dangerous of the lot are to be found in Mid Day, where they cannot digest their evening meal without a complete rewrite of every paragraph. To top it all, you'll get the most ludicrous headlines in the name of Fun, Fresh and Fiesty. Which further explains gems like, 'Gheun Tak', 'CM ki baj gayi', Panvati Poll' and some such.

And while the eternal fisticuffs between Reporters and Desk continue to rage on, in every newspaper, magazine, website and channel across the nation and world, I salute the spirit of Deskism.

Simply put, I thank all Deskies - past, present and future - for keeping us reporters always on the lookout for errors in our copies and for gradually becoming better at your job.

Take a cue from the 'No face to assailant, but 5 more detained' story in HT today. There are about four typos in a 200-word story. One sentence actually states, 'Her bag contained my mobile, railway pass and Rs 60.' Unfortunately, we don't know which HT Correspondent filed this story, so we will never know whose mobile Ayesha Sarkar made away with. (Story within story, that: Robbed girl robs HT Correspondent's mobile).

Jaan informs me that one of his deskies has also goofed up in his story in DNA. I haven't seen the story myself - DNA is generally riddled with so many typos and foolish errors that it's more like a kankar-se-chaawal-chunna kind of situation.

Anyway, you get the drift.

I generally read HT Cafe because it is an unintentional laugh riot. The Under Honey's Hat section in Psst Mortem aims at the catty Stardustesque quality of bitching about nothing, but the effect is somewhat marred by bad editing and no attention to grammar and punctuation whatsoever. In the story 'So owlarious', for example, the opening line says, 'What's up my apple struddles?'. Yeah, more like asking 'What's up my pink pyjamas?'. Honey, your deskie needs to insert commas wherever necessary. It's the difference between asking, "What's this thing called love?" and "What's this thing called, love?"

Of course, who I am to complain? My own 'newspaper' is the king of sloppy editing. Our deskies are paid only to transfer stories from the editor's inbox to the page, and fit it to length. How else would you explain this crucial para in the story about Salem's Delhi visit being axed: It may be recalled that Delhi Police had produced a production warrant issued by Tis Hazari court of Delhi, for Salem’s custody following which TADA court had agreed to handover Salem’s custody to Delhi Police.

(1): May be recalled: By who? You, me, saara samaj?
(2): Production warrant: What the heck is this supposed to be? And is this wrong usage? As in, do you produce a production warrant the same way you book a train booking?
(3): Tis Hazari: What is Tis Hazari? I like the exotic ring to the words. Shall name my kid Tis Hazari and send her for higher studies to Iran.
(4): Handover: Tsk tsk. You handover a project, not a person. Next time, make sure you hand over Salem, not treat him like a bouquet.
(5): Handover Salem's custody to Delhi police: Dear Principal Correspondent, you couldn't resist the temptation to use the words, could you? Of course, it's not your fault. Oye deskies, wake up for once. That last sentence could simply read 'Hand over Salem to Delhi police'. Clean and simple. When will anybody learn to Simplify, Simplify?

p.s: While rechecking this entry, I came across about 10 mistakes. So will every deskie, once the story he/she is working on has been knocked into shape.
I still salute you, though.