Problem/opportunity: The university is seen primarily as an institution for theoretical learning with very little emphasis on theoretical work. Because of this many aspiring students do not join the university.
Tribe: Youth aged between 15-18 years, as they will be possible entrants to the university in the coming few years. People interested in filmmaking and news reporting will be primarily targeted. These people might be spread across different socio-economic backgrounds but will have a few attributes in common. They all need to be curious kids who think they possess the creative spark that makes them fit for this field. Photographers, bloggers, writers etc can be potential targets. Their lifestyle should be built around their work.
Key response: Increased applicants to the department of Mass Communication.
Information/attributes: Testimonials of graduates and current students who already have or are going to join the field soon. Information on faculty and facilities as well as any landmark projects made by students during their time in the university can help.
Aspect of brand personality: The university needs to be shown as a place that encourages practical work and creative experimentation, and provides the right environment for the students to do so.
Budget: No constraints. An ad which is heavily spent on would show that the university has enough funds for the advertised facilities as well.
Finally went ahead with the Kohsar market story. The most challenging looking story yet, because I would have to disturb people to get their comments. Most people responded well, except the foreigners which was a major let down. One simply told me, “I think you have the wrong guy”, 2 Chinamen did not respond at all after stopping to looking at me when I called out to them. Tried to get some information from the shop said to be the oldest. They were not ready to talk either. In the end the fruit vendor gave me some excellent nuggets of information. The most memorable part however was when, the rangers called me to explain why I was walking around the market with a camera since the last hour. Good thing I had my card on me, and my wits too so I explained everything. to the frowning ranger quickly and clearly. As always, enough material for a decent story in the end.
Started pretty late on the earth day story. The theme is related to trees and there are old news stories on how Pakistan has an alarmingly high rate of deforestation. The problem was that the facts were pretty old, I had to spend hours looking for recent studies but could not find any. The last local report was published in 2004, an international report in 2011. Then the government officials would not give me their comments, The IG forests told me he would get back to me via email, even though I explained that earth day was hours away. The minister’s office said flatly that they had no plans of issuing a theme related statement. Then one of the guys from the forest department picked up and I got enough material for the story. Filed it just in Time.
On my way to Aabpara, I saw a most peculiar sight. A grown man on skates moving through G-9 Markaz. I immediately approached him and asked if I could talk to him. Shrewdly sizing me up he said “Sorry, no time” and skated away. I learnt that he is 27 years old and is not mentally stable. Apparently, he is a a civil servant. An interesting feature could be written about this person who lives near the markaz. A shopkeeper says he can help me if I wished. Still thinking.
During one of our beat meetings, I had floated the idea of doing a piece on something we likened to a ‘chips cartel’. There are some chips vendors in Aabpara, a major market of Islamabad who look very similar, and I had definitely seen some of them exchange stalls. It would be worth writing on, we agreed, that some people related to each other were controlling a major chunk of chips stalls. So I set out to talk to them, but hit a dead end very soon.
I approached the youngest of them, a boy named Javed who is not more than 15 years old. The bright smile that greeted me provided some hope, but it was unfounded. He immediately directed me to a much older man, who was on the next stall. With this man it was apparent within the first 5 minutes that the replies were well rehearsed.
I did not stop, I went to each and every one of them, 8 in total. I eventually found out that they all belong to the Aqcha district in North Afghanistan but are not related. I had never heard of the city before. However, the younger ones insist that by having migrated they now belong to Attock in Punjab. They are all in Aabpara because they learnt the trade from the same man, who still runs a stall on eastern end of the market.
So, nothing to write about.
Some kiosks that were razed in November 2015 are starting again. The structures still look temporary and might be illegal for all we know. I got the idea approved and went to talk to some stall owners. I could not help but notice that I was eyed suspiciously by them at first. However, they did open up later and gave me a good amount of information. I also came to know that there is a Khoka owners Association, I got the number of their general secretary from one stall owner. As one stall owner tried to insist that he had been reinstated, I felt that there would be no story in the end. However, he later admitted that nothing was official. The same account was given by a CDA spokesperson. Managed to get a satisfactory story in the end.
With the election on Islamabad’s mayor complete. I was assigned to write a follow up. “Make it short, around 200 words”, the editor said. A follow up got published in The News but the notification had not been published on the ECP website. Deciding that I could not write the follow up until I had myself seen the notification, I waited until it was uploaded and then wrote it. Trying my best to follow ethical journalistic practices as well.
Having already got it approved, I started work on the mayor story. Raja Khurram Nawaz’s number was easy enough to find, I got it from his facebook page. He immediately agreed to grant me the interview. After finalizing the date with him, I planned some basic questions. A classmate recommended a call recording app so I wouldn’t miss anything. The interview was pretty smooth. However, I had great difficulty reaching the other candidate. After trying and failing to get his number from various people, I finally got it from PMLN’s website. He took four days to respond, my 14th February deadline looming dangerously closer every day. His secretary once told me “wo tou pura din ghar hi nahi atay”. It was the mobile number that worked in the end, at 9 pm on the 11th of February. It turned out in one of our beat meetings that he is a family friend of a fellow Islamabad reporter. Shows how you need to talk about your story to others. So after two days of constant correspondence via email with the editor, my first story got published along with a co-authored explainer.
Plan to start working in and around my area first. Turned out there is a Punjabi cobbler in a nearby market, which is strange because most of the mochis in Islamabad are pathans. I talked to people in my class to find out if they think it is as peculiar as I think it is. They agreed. So I went ahead with the task without permission from the editor. Talked to the man for about 15 minutes and gained enough material for a decent story.
I then approached the editor, who immediately agreed that the story was worth working on. Still got advised to read a story published on Pakistan Ink last year about a man who searches for metal in Pindi. The only problem with mine is, it might go against the ‘unite, not divide’ rule that we have. But the editor says that with a little caution it would be okay.