Unforgettable Moments

Rashid Shahid preferred franetic pace of newsroom to sedate pace of classroom


I am one among regular recipients of emails from Dr. Farooq. I think the process is as old as my email account. His emails usually contain some lessons. With so many preoccupations around, I usually go through these mails at leisure time. And it has always been pleasure to go through these electronic lessons. But one such email headlined ‘Message from Abdur Rashid Shahid former Executive Editor, Greater Kashmir’ caught my attention and I immediately rushed through the content of the mail. It was shocking to learn that Abdur Rashid Shahid was on death bed and he had conveyed his apologies through Dr. Farooq ‘for any inconvenience/trouble caused/ an unintended taunt/or some uncharitable remark or a scold administered to any one during my incumbency at Greater Kashmir, adding that all that was unintended to cause any hurt rather it was purely in the larger interests of the institution or to make the subject to learn & not to repeat mistakes pointed out.’
My association with this genius soul dates back to 1986 when I was pursuing my post graduation in Mass Communication & Journalism. We were looking out for a teacher who could teach us ‘ownership structure of newspaper and other media’ – one of the topics in our first semester. We approached so many media stalwarts, but all of them refused to talk on the subject. The fact of the matter is that all of them were clueless with regard to the topic. Since we were going door to door to locate a teacher, we were spotted by Rashid Shahid, who was then, I think, Assistant Director (PR) in the information department. We told him about our problem. He lost no time to give his consent for delivering lecture on the given subject. It was not a series of lectures he delivered on ‘ownership structure of newspaper’ alone, he shared his experiences with us, which he had gained in the field of journalism. The first thing on which he stressed was that ‘I want my students to talk in English only’.
It was in early nineties when we converted GK into a daily affair, I had a professional encounter with Rashid sahib. I had written a critical piece on the functioning of the information department, which appeared at the bottom of the front page in this paper. Since my report was hitting him in the capacity of being one of the bosses of the information department and he being my teacher at the university level, I mentioned the byline of one of our reporters in the report. He came to GK office and started looking for me. I immediately presented myself before him. He started probing about the report and called it ‘rubbish’ - in the sense that the report had not sought official version of the story. I tendered apology and cleverly put blame on the reporter under whose name the report had appeared.
Rashid sahib surprised me when he confidently negated my version. He said that the report was written by me and the byline was fake. Even as I contested his version, he politely made me understand that it was through the structure of the sentences and the use of words which revealed that the report was written by me not the one whose byline was there in the report.
This incident was a huge lesson for me and I vowed not to become a pseudo writer. At the same time, I learned the tricks of tracking down author behind any report who don’t mention their names in reports or articles written by them.
One more learning experience with Rashid sahib was about the elements of editing. I had discussed a financial matter in an article. It was purely a technical piece. At midnight I received a call from Greater Kashmir office and it was Rashid Sahib on the line. He told me that he had made some minor changes in the report. He was not seeking my consent for the changes he had made, but ‘loved’ to inform me beforehand. To edit such financial pieces, an editor requires thorough knowledge of the subject. Veteran editor Rashid Sahib had made some changes and I had no worries. In fact I was happy that the report would be more polished now.
But it was a surprise to me in the morning when I found my report carrying opposite meaning because of the changes made in the structure of some sentences. Even I received some calls from relevant quarters about the errors in the report. I had no choice but to tender apology. At the same time I didn’t discuss the changes with Rashid sahib. But he was proactive when he asked me about the ‘liking’ of the changes he had made in the report. Then I told him that his changes had reversed the meaning of the report. He sought explanation how the meaning had changed. When I explained him and he during the course listened patiently, he was bold enough to admit his fault. I still remember his words at that time: ‘Sajjad Sahib, you know I was dead tired when I went through your piece. Besides, I am not familiar with financial things. That is why it happened. I am sorry, we will issue a corrigendum’.
On that day I learnt that you should never as a journalist write or edit a piece when your body starts resisting work load. Besides, you should handle jobs in which you are a specialist.
Normally you would find journalists moving to teaching side. But he went into the field when others think of comforts. He could have easily gone into teaching journalism. But he preferred the frenetic pace of the newsroom to the sedate pace of the classroom.
May his soul rest in peace!

Lastupdate on : Fri, 21 Jun 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Fri, 21 Jun 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sat, 22 Jun 2013 00:00:00 IST

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