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The Role Of An Editor: Is This You?

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By Anshul Tewari

Last week, I was reading the Times Insider column on what makes a great editor, and a line by David Carr jumped out to me: “Editors create fine stories by typing on a keyboard composed of human beings. Knowing which key to hit when and how hard to press it is both art and craft. The greats manage to be both collegial and decisive.” Particularly how the art is one that demands you to be decisive. Editor’s is an ambiguous role, so to speak. From putting the back channel hard work behind some of the best stories that move us, to just being an operations manager sometimes.

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But an editor’s role is a lot more. As a journalism student, I learned a lot about editors who put their foot down, moved bridges to make stories happen, but for the longest, editors haven’t been expected to create something new. And when I say new, I don’t mean a new publication. I mean a new form of editorial discourse. A discourse that lets the journalists go beyond just informing audiences, and engage them in creating news that matters to them. Legacy media or traditional media has almost always played a very hegemonical role in deciding what people should be consuming, and what they should not. And when things went out of their hand (read sensational reporting), they safely blamed people, stating that this is what the audience demands. News always got decided within conference rooms where the development reporters were always treated as ones doing ‘soft stories,’ pushed to page 5. The tussle for who’s story made it has killed more stories than it has created. Moreover, the complete lack of highlighting people’s voices has turned editors into autocratic decision makers who are too distanced from the reader. And this generation deserves better. It deserves to tell its stories and have an audience that wants to engage.

So how do you do that? You rebuild. You push the existing machinery or build on top of it. You refuse to conform and do not fear to start afresh. Unlearning, and Relearning. And you do more of these things:

Vision and Strategy: You own and execute the vision for a media that works bottom up. That believes in making sure that the stories of the bottom 90% matter more than those of the top 10%. You create innovative content plans, tools and ideas that engage audiences. You find formats that are new, more relevant and disruptive – ones that base themselves on why you do what you do. And for that, you never lose focus of why you are doing all this in the first place. And in that, you show decisiveness of how the craft needs to be conducted.

You make the right judgments, repeatedly. And when you make wrong ones, you’re quick to correct and take into account what others, above or below you feel about it. Alongside, you tell your story. The story of what we’re building, and how we’ll get there and why it will change the way people think. And why while many may ridicule it, at the end we’ll win. You get everyone on the same page. Everyone, from the developer to the designer, to the editors and the office manager. So that if one were to ask any of those what they’re building and why – they get one answer.

Execution and Impact: You become the driving force that executes and measures impact. You know where the audiences are, you know the kind of stories they have. You help them implement those stories a lot better. Yes, chances are you will deal with stories that are not ‘good-to-go’, but chances also are that you will end up impacting someone’s life by helping them speak up. And in the process, you will deal with a set of new journalists every day. You become the face of what a mission-driven editor looks like.

Honesty and Culture: No more pushing of stories from the back channel, or having to struggle to make your stories matter. No more conversations around why you should do a mix of bold and light stories just to keep your job going. You push and push hard for an open, transparent and honest culture, where every story gets treated equally. And you build a media company that does not exist. You establish a strong team around you, with higher and better morale, and love for working together as a unit. You make them feel better.
Your success is the success of an editor who sets out to change the way stories are told. Who uses their decisiveness to mould both the art and craft and create something new.

As an editor, you must decide which side of the history you’ll be on. The one that decided what stories people should hear, or the one that helped people tell their stories. At Youth Ki Awaaz, we are twisting the arm and changing the game. We do not wish to compete with the way legacy media works – but impact it. We want opinions and stories of the bottom 90% to matter a lot more than those of the top 10%.

Yes, you can conform to your cushy job. Yes, you can flourish in the conference-room decision-making status quo where stories are killed, and people’s voices ignored. Yes, you can believe that I am an idealist talking about how the media should function. Yes, all of that is there. But just in case you believe that people have incredible stories to tell and that the world needs to hear them, that they deserve to be amplified, then we are looking for someone like you. Someone who wants to break the hegemony of legacy media, and tell stories of people – bottom up! Each point you read above is exactly how we work, and if that excites you, email us why you’d like to work with us.

Youth Ki Awaaz is hiring a Senior Editor (Publishing) with 5+ years of experience, and a Sub-Editor with 2+ years of experience. Send your CV and 2 fresh, unpublished writing samples at to apply and find out more.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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