My media voyage
Newspapers are luxurious articles in the far-flung villages of Western Ghats. Amidst these hill ranges lies my tiny village Beluru where I was born, but most part of my infancy was spent at my Grandma’s house nearby. As my village was remote, so were the chances of getting schooled anywhere nearby. In the region, which is famous around the country for incessant rains, deep jungles and enormous oxygen, I was forced to enroll in a dozen of schools by the time I passed metric. My pursuit for education took me to many different locations – from cooler Coorg in the Southwest to the sun-baked plains of Bellary in the north. In 1986 I cut short my engineering degree in Davangere and boarded a bus to Bangalore. This is here in the Garden City that my future began to take shape.
The Garden City
Within a matter of days after arriving in Bangalore, I found myself editing Vidyarthi Patha a student magazine. Much to my surprise, I had begun to edit a journal without learning to read newspapers properly. As a kid, I never thought of becoming a journalist as I hardly read newspapers in my remote village. As the days passed by, I became so obsessed with journalism that I formed a syndicate of young journalists, and began to contribute stories to major newspapers & magazines.
My first article on polytechnic colleges was splashed on the cover page of Sudha, the weekly magazine published by Mysore Printers. It brought me for the first time into the limelight of professional journalism. Then on, things began to change, and barely months later, I was chosen among six journalists to travel to India’s porous border with Burma, the country notorious for its drugs and dopes. We were tasked with an assignment to investigate into the smuggling of heroin across the border. Our investigation prompted the Central Government to step up security along the border and crackdown on suspected peddlers.
The hilly terrain and its awesome beauty
In 1990, I went to Sirsi, a prosperous and burgeoning town in the picturesque North Kanara district, to launch a district daily Dhyeyanishta Patrakartha. I enjoyed the air-conditioned climate of Sirsi, but began to hate the suffocative climate within the four walls of my office. In 1993, I resigned and made way towards the coastal city of Mangalore with an offer to join Hosadigantha as news-editor.
In Hosadigantha, I was exposed to broadsheet newspapers for the first time in my career in journalism. For nearly two long years, I worked continuously on nightshifts focusing my attention completely on better ways of writing and better kind of stories. I was so much involved in my work that I felt myself living in the world of news and printing machines. In Mangalore, everything looked journalistic with inks and the smell of printing machines engulfing my whole existence.
In 1995, I was promoted to the post of Editor and transferred to the State Capital Bangalore. We struggled to set standards and make it a popular daily among Kannadigas. In the following year I was requested to head Vikrama, one of the oldest kannada weeklies.
New job & New Media
In 1998, I took a break from routine journalistic activities and became a publisher as well as a commercial translator. I have published 12 books on variety of topics, ranging from history to literature, journalism to science. When Bangalore attracted world’s attention because of its role in shaping Information Technology, I too jumped onto the bandwagon and worked for three news portals. In keeping with the pace of birth and demise of dotcoms, I changed portals after portals in search of wider opportunity and reality.
The more the dotcom industry boomed, the larger became the size of its bubble. I left the industry months before it burst out.
Exposure to Visual media
I joined TMG, an English Language Television Channel launched by Technology Media Group. Though TMG was an offshoot of dotcom industry, it introduced me to the wider world of electronic media.
In TMG, I headed its Kannada Band with a responsibility to produce one news episode every week to be telecast by Udaya TV, then the lone and number one Kannada news channel. Some of my stories on information technology became an instant hit among the kannada audience and made the program worthwhile. During my days in TMG, I received hands-on experience on all areas of electronic media that included news-reading, script writing, anchoring, voice-over, editing and shooting news clippings. As the days went by, the channel slipped deep into a financial crisis and the production came close to an end.
The Magazine Editor
When I walked out of TMG, there was an editor waiting to take my service. He asked me to look after a string of magazines that his newspaper Vijaya Karnataka was bringing about. Within months, I changed the face and shape of its weekly supplements and played a major role in the success of Vijaya Karnataka. Round about eight months after my joining, Vijaya Karnataka turned out to be the largest circulated Kannada daily with its sale exceeding 5 lakh copies a day. I took the initiative to organize a journalism workshop on behalf of my paper. Workshop on agriculture & rural reporting and a competition on short story writing are the ones held under my leadership.
A stint in Political Strategy
I served as the Media Adviser for Karnataka State Urban Cooperative Banks Federation, Karnataka State Souharda Federal Cooperative Limited – the apex bodies in the state’s cooperative sector and SUCO Bank, Sindhanur from 2003-2006. After serving as Manager, Corporate Communications @ JSW Steel Limited, Toranagallu, in Bellary District, Karnataka, I served as the Media & Logistics Manager to Shri B. S. Yeddyurappa for the Assembly elections. I spent 90 days with him, which gave me full insight into what politics is upto. I travelled with him on the helicopter and saw the whole of Karnataka’s landscape. Then, I made a quiet exit, because of domestic reasons. I am happy that my client has become the Chief Minister of Karnataka!
Later I joined Adamya Chetana, a social organisation led by Smt. Tejaswini Ananth Kumar. This trust is formed in the fond memory of Smt. Girija Shastri, mother of Shri Ananth Kumar, MP, Bangalore South. I have spoken to Smt Girija Shastri quite a few times. Thanks to Smt Tejaswini, I learnt a lot about social service organisations.
Since May 2009, I focused on studies, which I could not do for the past few months. I toured many parts of Karnataka, met friends, high school teachers, and many others. I studied Organic Farming, Energy Crisis, Endosulfan, BT issues etc.,
KANAJA: Kannada’s biggest online knowledge portal
In 2010, I took charge of KANAJA, the online encyclopedia project of Government of Karnataka. I was handed over a portal with ZERO content; I was handed over ZERO FILES, after more than a year. I took it as my passionate challenge and within 9 months (yes, motherly nine months), with the kind support of the writers and Univerisities in Karnataka, I could make KANAJA the largest portal in Kannada language, with many FIRST TIME features like a set of SEVEN important dictionaries, Text to Speech facility and many more. Two Rashtrakavi personalities, Three Jnanapith Awardees contributed all of their works online, not to mention hundreds of other writers. Hampi Kannada University was generous to share almost all of its Knowledge repository and Karnatak University provided its rare collection of folk song collections. I am not hesitant to say that I was instrumental in shaping the project, with a technologically robust architecture. Please visit www.kanaja.in to have a first hand feel.
I left Kanaja in 2011, with a heavy heart. I still love this project, as it made me to understand the nuances of web strategies. Given an opportunity again, I wish I work for the Kanaja project again!!
Exposure to Biofuel Sector
In 2012, I got an opportunity to work with Karnataka State Biofuel Development Board (KSBDB) and was given a Media fellowship. I toured all over Karnataka and wrote a book URIYA SIRI on the ongoing experiments in Biofuel in Karnataka. Later I worked as coordinator for the BIOFUEL MELA, held in August 2012.
URIYA SIRI got Karnataka State Science and Technology Academy Award for the year 2012. I have planned to donate the part of the award money in the form of books to Vatsalya, a all girl home in Kodagu District, where I studied SSLC.
Now, I have established my own media consultancy company along with my best friend Shri Ramanath GP Maiya. I have set myself few ambitious goals which I will reveal in the days to come. But for sure, the time has come a full circle!
I strive to learn new things everyday. I am always at the mercy of my Guru Pt. Prakash Kumar. He teaches me one thing: in life, there is a lot to learn. He also teaches me how to enjoy the divine beauty of serene early mornings. His Bansuri plays deep inside my heart. I try to imitate, though. I feel immensely satisfied with the joy of just being near him. Whether I perform or not is not a necessary condition. I try to learn, and that is the sufficient condition!
Sharing and gaining Knowledge is what a profession is all about, and I stand by it. I might have changed jobs, but not my passion.
Media, Music, Movies and Books have been instrumental in my life so far. I hope to mold myself into a more responsible citizen with these tools.