Please tell us about yourself
As a big believer that you learn by doing, Tarun Shukla jumped at the first opportunity to practice journalism. It paid off.
Shukla started out managing the website for one the oldest English dailies in India, but was dissatisfied. “Thankfully, my bosses at The Pioneer smelled a newshound in me,” Shukla who grew up in Meerut wrote, “and, within a couple of months, I was pulled away out from the website and put on the reporting desk.”
How did you end up in such an offbeat, unconventional and unique career?
Shukla went on to break major national stories for Mint, a Hindustan Times business newspaper launched in partnership with the Wall Street Journal, where he serves as a national reporter .
“I’ve learnt that the best school for journalism is field reporting,” said Shukla. “No one can teach you all the ropes of the trade. You have to learn them on your own and from ordinary folks, who make events – the real newsmakers.”
Throughout his experience Shukla, 33, said he discovered a lot about himself too. After being pulled away from the web desk and thrown into the newsroom, he missed no opportunities to push himself further. During the early years at The Pioneer, he got some international exposure with his coverage of the 2005 bombings in New Delhi, which got published in Newsday.
What did you study?
Iam currently doing my Fellowship University of Missouri-Columbia in the field of Journalism. Before that i did my Bachelor’s degree (Information Technology) from Indira Gandhi National Open University and Master’s degree (English Language and Literature, General).
What were the challenges in your career?
Along the way Shukla also realized that penetrating the cut-throat world of journalism in New Delhi was by no means an easy task.
“Selling stories to your bosses — making them understand the worth of your story — is no mean achievement,” Shukla said. “Nor is the pressure of meeting impossible deadlines, checking and rechecking your news sources, cultivating new sources, keeping tabs on all that’s going on around you — and more.”
Yet passion and perseverance helped him thrive in the newsroom. He now covers the high-profile aviation and defense beats for Mint, and some of his scoops made it on national prime time television. Shukla also worked on longer series on India’s air safety gap and scooped a Society of Publishers in Asia (SOPA) gold award for his investigative reporting. He also contributed with his expertise on aviation to books and other international publications. Shukla is a frequent commentator of Bloomberg TV and CNBC and an avid social media user, whose tweets have been featured on the BBC and Sky News.
I have been chasing flying objects (among other things) for over a decade now, with work published in Mint, Hindustan Times, The Wall Street Journal, Ashgate Publishing, and The Pioneer. A series exposing India’s air safety gaps in 2010 scooped a Society of Publishers in Asia (SOPA), Hong Kong, gold award for investigative reporting. The warning of an imminent crash unfortunately came true three months after the series, with the decade’s worst air disaster in Mangalore that killed dozens. At ET Prime, I will be dissecting this space further with the aim to catch all the unusual flying activity that otherwise fails to make it to the public domain.
What is required to be a good journalist?
More than the accolades, he said the most important aspect of being a journalist is dissecting the art and mechanics of a story, “the What, When and How of each event.”
“Small achievements, but they mean a great deal to me,” Shukla said. “What really drives my work is creative satisfaction.”
During his experience in the U.S., the fellow will be working at the Wall Street Journal, where he wants to polish his interviewing techniques and writing skills, explore new research tools, and learn data journalism.
“I want to learn what it takes to be a better journalist; the one who makes a difference to the society with his pen,” said Shukla.
Most importantly, Shukla wants to spread the knowledge among his colleagues back home and become a journalism mentor, just like one of the former Alfred Friendly fellows from Pakistan who is training journalists in India.