Category Archives: Media and Journalism

The Olympic Experience of a Lifetime

The UK had been preparing to host the Olympics after it won the bid on 6th July, 2005.

Seven years later, the city had been spruced up to handle visitors from all over the world. People of different nationalities came to one place to support their team and to have a good time.

At the right place at the right time

I was working for the Olympic Broadcasting Service (OBS) that is the official broadcaster of the Olympic Games. I applied for this job in February 2011 to work in July 2012. The competition was tough. My job description was to deliver the Olympics information to the rest of the world on a strict deadline.

This was indeed a privilege to be a part of the largest sporting event in the world in the centre of all the action. My venue was the North Greenwich Arena also known as the O2 Arena. The sports assigned to me were Artistic Gymnastics and Basketball Finals. Working behind the scenes, the atmosphere was exhilarating.

The Victory Ceremonies was my favourite part of the Olympics. The medal winners are presented with the medal and bouquet of flowers while the song “Chariots of fire” is being played in the background. Once the medals are presented, the national flags of the three countries are hoisted and the national anthem of the country winning the gold medal is played. The nationalism displayed was incredible

The benefits

My media accreditation gave me access to most venues. London is a very expensive city and travel costs are very high. My special Olympics Oyster card allowed me to free travel across London.

Working with the OBS gave me the opportunity to work and interact with broadcasters from all over the world. Each day was different. Everyday hundreds of journalists would walk through our Broadcast Information Office (BIO) doors asking for information on matches, player statistics, results, filming the game, press conferences and interviewing athletes. I was truly in a multicultural environment

As an employee of the official broadcaster, I was at the centre of all the activity, in the broadcast tribunes, mixed zone and the media centre. I got a very good view of the field of play. I was spotted on television channels in different parts of the world.

I knew nothing about both the games that were assigned to me but within no time, I became an expert in the field.

The Challenges

There were just too many people in London during the Olympics. The tube lines were packed. I had to go through airport like security check on every single day that I worked.

Journalists can be very bothersome and abusive. Working for the official broadcaster meant getting abused in different languages and putting the pesky journalists in their place whenever needed. But at the end of the day, we understand that they are doing their job, as they are answerable to their channels.

The memorabilia

I got to keep two sets of my uniform consisting of beige trousers, green polo t-shirt, green cap, blue jacket, blue backpack and a blue trolley bag.

Every participating country and most media companies have their own pins and badges that they give away. These are prices possessions among the volunteers and employees. It was almost like a competition of who could get the maximum number of pins and badges. These badges can be exchanged. I managed to collect about 20 of them.

After the Olympics

The 17 days that I worked for the Olympics has been the most memorable experience of my life and has been my best job so far. This is one event in my life that I will never forget. I met fantastic people. I made friends for life. I am so grateful for this opportunity and I hope to be a part of future Olympic Games.

I made the game and the game made me.

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Filed under International, Media and Journalism, Olympics, Sports, UK

Enjoying free labour or helping students?

Entering the media industry is a challenge. The lucky ones are those who are at the right place at the right time while others need a godfather in the industry or pursue an (unpaid) internship.

Journalism has not only been a passion but a way of life for me. As a child, I was curious to find out about things happening around me and developed a nose for news.

I decided to pursue a career in journalism at the age of 12. Therefore, during my early teenage years, I began writing for my school and parish magazine and then went on to become a part of the editorial team.

My interest in the area drove me to pursue a bachelor’s degree in mass media with journalism as a specialisation.

Securing an internship

During the course of my bachelor’s degree, I decided to pursue an internship to enter the industry, gain experience and to create a network of contacts. The education system in India focusses more on marks than on gaining practical exposure. Pursuing an internship was out of choice not out of academic compusion.

I ran from pillar to post knocking on the doors of media companies in search of an internship. I finally got a one-month unpaid internship at a national English daily newspaper in Mumbai.

The lessons

I gained practical knowledge in the mainstream Indian print media as a reporter on the field as well as an editor and page designer on the desk.

I learnt a lot through hands-on experience and in terms of knowledge through co-ordination, co-operation and team work. I learnt that the glamour that is associated with such a job profile is quite an illusion.

Working with people with different attitudes, outlooks and approaches is a complete learning experience in itself. My work experience while reporting on various beats taught me the nuances and realities of a scribe’s life.

The internship was a great way to gain experience, confidence and knowledge about the world of work. In an increasing competitive job market, employers expect prospective employees to have some amount of work experience.

Why is it unpaid?

Interning for a company is totally different from volunteering with a charity. For me the internship was more about the work experience and not about the money. This is not the case for all interns. Many interns cannot afford to work for a month without pay. Coming from a well-to-do family in Mumbai, I was able to afford the unpaid internship along with all the other ancillary expenses that come along with it. It was surely hard on the pocket but I could do it with family support.

While reporting on the field, news progresses very fast. Unless the intern has their own transport which is highly unlikely, they have to rely on public transport. I did not have time to wait for the bus or the train. I had to take a taxi to reach my destination on time and gather news. Taxi fare and conveyance was the major  expense as I did not get a reimbursement. The reason cited by my editor was – “You have come here to learn which you are getting free. Why do you want to get paid for learning?”

Internships provide employers with cheap or free labour. Remunerating interns for their work is the company’s way of appreciating their work however menial it can be.

Intern Aware

Intern Aware is an organisation in the UK that campaigns for paid labour. The organisation strives for the payment of the national minimum wage for interns.

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From the Bulgarian border to a radio station

For Mladen Petkov, the Bulgarian Army taught him that life was not a bed of roses.

Since his childhood, Mladen enjoyed a comfortable life and was spoiled by his

Mladen Petkov

parents. On 1 April 1997, his friends told him to join the Bulgarian Army. What was supposed to be an April Fool’s Day prank, turned out to be true when he received a phone call asking him to join the Army.

Mladen joined the Bulgarian military as part of the compulsory military service when he was 17-years-old. “I did not like it as I was forced into it,” says Mladen. He was posted at a railway station at the border of Bulgaria, Turkey and Greece and had to prevent illegal immigrants from entering the country.

The challenges

During his time in the army, Mladen faced several challenges. Right from rigorous training regimes to long hours of work and horrible living conditions, Mladen battled it all with courage. “We lived in a forest and had to cut wood and use it to cook food,” says Mladen.

During winter, Mladen had to battle the freezing cold. “One traveller coming from Germany gave me expensive whiskey and I drank 200 ml of it,” he says.

Mladen did not like the hierarchy there as Superiors used to bully them several times. “One day I reached saturation point and threw my helmet and said that I will not do anymore work. As a result of that, the superiors told all of us to run 5 kilometres more,” Mladen informs.

Life after the army

At the end of his one-year stint with the army, Mladen came out as a mature young man who had learnt many lessons for life. He says, “I have learned about positive thinking and how not to be bogged down by what people do or say.” Mladen can now detect a fake passport with just a glance.

After completing his military service, Mladen returned to his first love – the radio. Mladen has worked on several profiles in different radio stations since the last 14 years. He worked as a newscaster on FM Plus. He then went to Radio Atlantic in Sofia as a weekend radio jockey and went on to become the interim programme director. “I did not like being the programme director as it involved shooting down peoples ideas and firing them,” Mladen says.

Mladen has a bachelors degree in Clinical Social Work. He had to conduct interviews with drug addicts. Interviewing drug addicts has been his most fulfilling interview.Interviewing them has improved his interviewing skills on the radio. “While interviewing people, the interviewer and the interviewee are always at the same level,” says Mladen Petkov.

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The other side of MAJI

Monday blues is a common syndrome after enjoying the long weekend. Today’s MA Journalism (International) class turned the usual rut into a pleasure.

As part of the Online Journalism class, we had to write a profile about someone from our comfort zone … one of our classmates. The morning session involved learning about the basics of interviewing and writing profiles.

The afternoon session was the assignment of writing the profile. We swooped across class to find a friend to profile. Someone whom we barely knew or hardly ever spoke to since the last two months would now become friends we had to write about.

The task

We had to write profiles about one another and take an “informative” profile picture. Though we worked in pairs, it was surprising to see students open up to one another and describe their entire life in 20 minutes. The enthusiasm was very evident. The interview time was extremely chaotic with the newsroom doubling up as a studio where students were posing for the profile picture. We had one hour to write the profile in 400 words, upload it onto our group news blogs and print it for assessment.

It was indeed a pleasure to interview Mladen Petkov, a former Bulgarian military man and now a radio jockey. After the long conversation with Mladen, it was difficult to describe the interesting young man in just 400 words.

At 4.29 pm, there was a scramble at the printers to print the profile to submit for assessment. At the end of the day, we were all tired. What a day!!!

The aftermath …

I got home from class and visited the four news blogs. I read all the profiles that were uploaded to the news blogs and was surprised to know that all my classmates had very interesting stories behind them. I got great insights into their lives. What seemed to be a dull and boring day turned out to be very fruitful.

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