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So, what do you do?

Simple as it may seem, this is one question I dread. For some reason, I find it hard to explain to people what an 'online journalist' is. I am not talking about old-fashioned auntys and uncles either, I am talking about people whose online interaction is limited to emails and chatting. Even if I do manage to say that I write for a media & advertising website, they think I am some content writer who fills in the spaces between the pictures. With all due respect to Content Writers (notice the capital c and w), I do work a little harder on developing my feature articles. Again, I am not a daily reporter which makes it hard to explain to presswallahs. My forte lies in writing feature articles which you see in any business, current affairs, lifestyle or travel magazine. The only difference is, that my work is 'published' online (that's the terminology used).

Yet, people remain under the impression that if I am not a reporter either, I must be doing some dilly-dallying and passing it off as journalism. Let me clarify that my job is not an easy one. When I call up people for an interview or to answer my queries, they are always a little disappointed that their words will not appear in ink. I guess the written word on the web has a very transitory reputation. People who are in the online business themselves are of course happier to be written about in their own medium, but this proportion is clearly small.

I do admit that the online medium allows a more, let's say, friendly language. But I prefer to see that as an advantage. People who read online (yes, people do that) want the writer to get to the point - fast. One has to be concise, conversational and accurate. I will, however, not deny that I am stanch supporter of newspapers and books myself. Yet, over the years, the web has evolved its own fraternity. What I can read on other's blogs, I may never get to see on any other medium. Online communities allow me share my opinions with like-minded people in a frank manner. Online news sites are updated frequently. Online magazines like http://www.chowk.com/ are doing a great job too.

Let me add that I write occassionally write for a print magazine, but when I was offered a position as a full-time correspondent with the magazine, I declined to accept. This is because I see the web as a more radical and evolving medium, even as it grows in respectability. I have a feeling that the web is where the future is. I am as concerned about the sanctity of the language as pro-print people are. And that is why we need more talented people to move from print to online. Not only will this add to the credibilty of the medium, it will fulfill the need for better writing on the web.

And when the aforementioned Auntys and Uncles do ask me what I do for a living, I just tell them I write for a magazine.
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