We keep unearthly hours; a typical day begins at 6 in the morning. The anchors and researchers come in stumbling in the dark of dawn, bleary eyed. Newspaper scans begin. Headlines etched out.
But the stress is scarcely in the long hours, it’s the transactional anxiety in the ten hours we work.
A typical fifteen minutes in a day is like this.
“Smitaaaaaaaa” a spine chilling scream comes from the ticker desk (a group of fledglings who monitor Bloomberg, newswire and Reuters for newsbreaks. The content on the ticker which rolls at the bottom of the screen comes from here.)
“What is it?” I scream back, heart thudding painfully in my chest.
“Listen, XYZ is acquiring ABC” Now the heart stops, blood draining away. “Oh, shit”
There is sudden frenzy in the newsroom. The rest of the team refreshes BSE, NSE. Printouts are fired. Few run to the printer. Few run to the ticker desk to shout out instructions for headlines.
I have just that one line. XYZ is acquiring ABC.
The desk (which edits the content that goes on air), the producer from the PCR (the man in the Production Control Room controlling the show) is screaming, “Smita, mike up, mike up, NOW”
I can feel the blood rushing to my head. I am frantically looking at past slugs (short research précis we make for the anchors everyday), running search strings through google for help. Any help. Cold sweat trickles down my back.
2 minutes down. No information yet.
Now the anchors are screaming from the studio. “Get us information fast and get her miked up. Now”
Damn. It is always NOW.
I scream instructions to my mates, quickly put on my talk-back and mike, look into the mirror, comb my hair. The make up guy runs over and touches up the powder, rubs in some lipstick. Good to go, the talk-back mutters.
I start to ramble.