Reporter’s Diary: Life of a journalist at Chintan Shivir

The life of a journalist attending the Chintan Shivir is actually quite boring. The day starts with attending media briefings and ends with chasing an elusive scoop. But there are no scoops coming

NH photo by Vipin
NH photo by Vipin
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Ashlin Mathew

Within journalist circles, there is a sudden appreciation for journalists who are reporting at the Chintan Shivir in Udaipur and they are being considered as a ‘select few’.

Contrary to popular perception, the life of a journalist attending the Chintan Shivir is actually quite boring.

The day starts with attending media briefings and ends with chasing an elusive scoop. But there are no scoops coming. There are no exclusives for either newspaper or television channels. After press briefings, all channels try to get a Congress leader to give them an exclusive, but all of them end up with similar versions on different topics.

The real Chintan part of the Shivir is being held at a venue a few metres away but without any access to our prying eyes. Even the leaders were not allowed to carry their mobile phones into these deliberations. It was announced that lockers were provided for mobile phones.

And according to sources, only the designated members of committees were present at each of these meetings. What exactly is going on behind these closed doors is anyone's guess and imagination.

The Congress has, thus, so far managed to plug media leaks. Even the journalists who reached Udaipur had to be content to watch Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s speech on TV at the media centre.

Some of us try extra hard to decode the optics and some here specialise in deciphering body language. But most are just happy to click selfies or groupfies and be seen.

And then there are some who hardly step out of the comforts of their rooms, and yet manage to pen 1,000-word articles on what’s happening at the Chintan Shivir. Courtesy WhatsApp forwards, with a spin that suits their agenda.

At least, as I see it, what the media has managed to broadcast is exactly what the party wants to show to the world. They wanted to present a united front. And if the optics of Day 1 and Day 2 are anything to go by, I have to grudgingly agree that they have done a commendable job.

So-called G-23 members are part of several committees and they head the press briefings most of the time. They are rubbing shoulders with the high command. Two supposed warring factions of Karnataka were seen sharing a joke.


What’s going to be the outcome of this much publicised brainstorming session? We will get to know when the party wants us to know.

The reason Chintan Shivir became much talked about is because there was anticipation that the question of the organisational structure would be answered.

But, other than on the first day where they said that in all party committees, 50% of the members will be younger than 50, all the other panels have spoken about what the Congress intends to do for the various sectors including economy, agrarian crisis, social justice, youth empowerment and education.

And on the first day they agreed that they need to improve their communication strategies, taking the wind out of criticism by some sections.

The only panel which is yet to hold a press conference is the one deliberating on organisational matters. Hopefully, that will be discussed tomorrow.

Till then, let me attend the next press conference.

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Published: 14 May 2022, 7:01 PM