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FO2 Stage | Nikita Jain

by Team FO2, 24 Jun 2023

I covered the farmer’s protest from the beginning right to the end and I see the repeal of the farm laws as a personal victory because of how emotionally attached I was to the protesters. Out of many memories from the protest, there is one incident from the protest that will always stay with me. While I was covering the protest, the police started throwing tear gas canisters on the protestors. I was miserable and felt defeated, but this negative situation soon got overshadowed by the entry of a few elderly gentlemen. These elderly protesters, who were in their 70s or 80s, came forward and cheered me back to sanity, and seeing their positivity even during that hellish situation motivated me to become optimistic as well.

My interest in journalism was there before my love for photography grew. We had photography as a subject in my Journalism curriculum. Though I was not that interested in the technicalities of photography, this was the time my love for visuals kindled. I captured everything that I would find interesting while travelling to college. Until that time, my love for photography was limited to being a hobby, but after I got a job, I got the opportunity to combine my love for journalism and photography.

Sometimes when I went to cover something, there wouldn’t be a photographer with me to document the visuals of that place. So, I had to take the pictures myself. In 2019, I first used my camera as a photojournalist in a conflict zone to document the Jawaharlal Nehru University protests. I had never covered something so intense before. I remember how I was held by the police when they mistook me as a student and I had to use my press card to get out of that situation. These experiences made me realize that it is extremely important to document these incidents with a camera.

Before the JNU protests, I covered the stories of people during the Lok Sabha elections. I remember meeting a couple in Delhi who came from West Bengal to earn money. The man played the flute and I posted their story on my Instagram page because of how touched I was by their story. I knew that I was on the right track when my professor saw the post and showed it to his students as an example of how photojournalism should be.

Being a journalist changes you as a person completely. I have traveled to various places, and my perception of all those places has changed drastically. When I went to Rajasthan, I could only see the rampant casteism and patriarchy that cannot be ignored. A tourist might think of Kashmir as the land of paradise, but I have witnessed the condition of the Kashmiris first-hand. You can’t think of Kashmir as a land of paradise when you see people on their deathbeds after getting shot by a pellet gun. My life as a journalist has made me more aware of my surroundings and has made me realize how privileged I am.

After experiencing all the negatives in a conflict zone, there have been incidents that made me believe that journalism can change things and inspired me to work further. During the pandemic, I learned about a few cancer patients living in a subway near AIIMS. After interviewing them and seeing how miserable they were, I wrote a story and was surprised when an official from the Delhi government called me after reading the story and the Delhi government helped the cancer patients return home.

Journalism is a profession responsible for showing the truth to the people about what is going on in society and this is what inspired me to be the person, a journalist, who delivers the truth and tries to bring about a positive change in society. I believe that anyone who starts working in this field has to hustle a lot. You have to put your foot down to get the things that you believe in. When I started working as a journalist, I realized that I have to try my best to attain all the knowledge and information out there and that I have to be empathetic about the people who have suffered. Now I work as an independent journalist, and while working as one I understood how important it is to have good peers by your side. They help you get through the toughest of times.

- Nikita Jain

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