It was a pint-sized invasion at mid-day editorial office in Parel on Friday, as Mumbai’s favourite paper and seven children associated with The Akanksha Foundation came together for a special Children’s Day edition. The non-profit organization works primarily in the field of education, and hopes to one day equip all students with education, skills and the character they need to lead empowered lives.
The seven students of Akanksha run English medium schools in Mumbai, Aaliya Mulla, Dungar Chundawat, Suraj Gupta, Aditya Solanki, Mitali Sakaria, Vivan Vairagi and Nemat Shaikh, arrived in the newsroom early afternoon to observe how a newspaper is put together from scratch.
When we entered the mid-day newsroom, we saw everyone was working at a computer. I was made to imagine that I was a senior editor at the paper, and while initially, I didn’t understand what an editor does, the term had an important ring to it. I kept track of news coming in, from reporters and on TV and discussed with seniors at mid-day what news would make it to the paper. It was exciting, but also tiring. - Neemat Shaikh, 12
Divided into various groups, and assigned beats and specific tasks, they set off on the day’s assignments. Dungar Chundawat (14) was to accompany photographer Satej Shinde to a jewellery store in Vile Parle, where superstar Salman Khan was scheduled to arrive.
The children with the mid-day team at the evening edit meet. Pics/Sayed Sameer Abedi
There was Suraj Gupta , whose smile lived up to the sunshine in his name, as he accompanied environment reporter Ranjeet Jadhav to Aarey Milk Colony on a story about live wires threatening kids who frequent a playground there.
There was a clamour for glamour, since all seven said they paid special attention to the paper's Bollywood section. Aditya Solanki and Mitali Sakaria were assigned to collaborate on the Party Troopers pages of the hitlist section, where the most glamorous men and women make it for their fashion sense and marquee value. The two trawled through hordes of photographs, deciding the best lot for the page.
Vivan and Aaliya at a football match in Parel. Pics/Atul Kamble
Footballer Aaliya Mulla was delighted when she was picked to report on a football match at St. Xavier’s ground, Parel. Vivan Vairagi, also a sports enthusiast, gave her company, taking stock of facilities for players and ground conditions. Both were excited at the opportunity to interview players post the game. The perks of being a journalist, even for a day!
Aditya and Mitali working on the party trooper pages in the office
Then, there was Nemat Shaikh, who as 'teen editor', took her role seriously and checked up on her friends about how their assignments were unfolding. Described as a 'quiet worker' by the rest, she laughed when ribbed about putting the real journalists out of business.
Aditya, Suraj and Vivan talk to Abha Raja of Akanksha about how they fared in their assignments
The group that was frank enough to admit "we don't follow newspapers closely, but we are aware of the headlines,” found this a 'earning experience', as did senior journalists in the newsroom, who had the chance to view the day’s news through the prism of a pre-teen’s perspective. The children thought, "Narendra Modi tours too much", "Swachch Bharat Abhiyaan is a good campaign", and "we'd like a house for everyone, and a open ground dedicated to every sport". The wishlist was simple but telling.
The children with team Bank of India, pose for posterity
When asked to jot down their experience, there was plenty of giggling. Aditya was blamed for 'tickling' his friends and not allowing them to complete their report in time.
The teasing lessened as the pressure of deadlines gradually built up.
As they left the newsroom, calling it a wrap, they said they were 'tired but happy'. Not very different from what the regular hack at mid-day feels once the paper has gone to bed.