IJNet journalist of the month: Namrata Acharya

byIJNet
May 1, 2012 in Journalist of the Month

Each month, IJNet features an international journalist who exemplifies the profession and has used the site to further his or her career. If you would like to be featured, email a short bio and a paragraph about how you have used IJNet here.

This month's journalist, Namrata Acharya of India, is a special correspondent for a financial daily in Kolkata. Through IJNet, Acharya earned a reporting fellowship and discovered a training course on writing business and financial news.

IJNet: What is your journalism background and where do you work now?

Namrata Acharya: I am a special correspondent covering the banking sector at Business Standard, a financial daily in Kolkata, India. I have been working at the newspaper for the last five years and have specialized in the field of microfinance and banking. Prior to this, I worked as a sub-editor at Financial Express, another business daily in Delhi, for eight months.

IJNet: How has IJNet helped you?

NA: I think IJNet is an immensely useful website for journalists, particularly those who want to explore the endless opportunities across nations in the world of journalism. Through IJNet, I got a chance to be a part of two desirable journalism training programs. First was the five-day course “Writing Business and Finance News,” sponsored by the Thomson Reuters Foundation in London, followed by an extensive e-learning module. The second was a two-month World Press Institute Fellowship in the U.S. Both opportunities helped to apprise me of global reporting standards and broadened my horizons as a journalist. I am really thankful to IJNet for listing such great opportunities on one website.

IJNet: How do you get your ideas for stories?

NA: Business journalism is a tricky proposition. On one hand, a journalist is required to reveal the truth. On the other hand, she or he is constantly faced with huge walls like corporate communication and public relation firms. In such a situation, a business journalist is required to maintain a fine balance between truth, compliance and objectivity. Thus, to get story ideas, one needs to look beyond the obvious, decipher the simple fact hidden in complex balance sheets and verify it with utmost certainty.

In fact, I get story ideas everywhere, like from an unusual advertisement of a flimsy small-loan scheme on my way to work, by eavesdropping on a casual conversation between strangers on public transport or from facts hidden in corporate press releases.

IJNet: What has been your best story or work so far?

NA: So far my best story has been “FM's constituency financially included; without banks.” It was a story on how the winning constituency of India’s finance minister, Pranab Mukherjee, has been giving organized credit systems a miss. It was interesting because ever since Mukherjee became the FM, banks have been competing with each other in opening branches in the area. Still, a majority of rural folks in the area avoid banks and prefer micro-credit institutions, even at the cost of paying double the interest rate of a bank. The story gave me an opportunity to blend my passion for development journalism with knowledge of the banking sector. I was happy that I could back the story with figures without making it a dull read.

IJNet: What advice would you give aspiring journalists?

NA: I feel there is a fine line dividing, rather blurring, the job of a reporter and a journalist. While reporting is about newsgathering and presenting, journalism is blending the news with understanding, analysis and still presenting it in the most objective way. I feel aspiring journalists should identify their interest areas at the beginning of their career and pursue specialization in it to such an extent that they ultimately evolve as seasoned journalists, rather than just reporters or newsgatherers.