We attended a few masterclass sessions and spoke to some of those conducting the training and education program for young journalists. One of them was Meghnad Saha, a young follower of parliamentary proceedings who conducted the masterclass – Covering Parliament 101. A former LAMP fellow and a PRS legislative researcher, Saha has worked with more than half a dozen MPs, including those of NCP, TMC and BJD in the past seven years. He was one of the fifty young journalists to be chosen as a research fellow in 2011 by NGO PRS Legislative Research. Fellows are attached to an MP for a year to help them do their research.
Talking about the fellowship work, Saha said, “This was primarily an assignment to assist the MPs do legislative business for one year. It included filing notices, drafting questions, helping them writing speeches, going around with them to their constituency, trying to figure out how to get their constituent notices to parliament, even in cases where lawyers were enlisted to help in drafting bills. I frankly found this work addictive. After finishing my fellowship I worked with MPs of various political parties wherever there was an opening and kept working on parliament news.”
Saha told the audience that the Lok Sabha website gives the latest data on the economy, social and other activities that are not normally available anywhere else. “There is a wealth of information in the questions that are asked by the MPs and the answers given. Normally the data is authentic and well researched because MPs can’t give false information on the floor of the house. Besides this, the websites of the Rajya Sabha and PRS Legislative give all data that have been part of the proceedings in the house.” He showed the audience how to use the search function of the websites for specific information and get authentic updated news that is quoted by many news channels. Parliament focus has of late revived with the high-pitched media battle between the Left and the Right. A dedicated masterclass for news gathering from the parliament was a great experience at the Media Rumble.