I have come to realise that for most people outside of the journalism community, the word byline does not mean much. Until a little over two years ago, I was not much concerned with it either, but today, after many many bylines, the word still thrills.
A byline is your name that gets published along with your article that is usually called a 'copy' in journo jargon. It is normally given for exclusives, special stories and columns. Over the last couple of years when I was studied journalism and in the last four months that I have been one, I have got quite a few bylines. (Immodestly, let me tell you that I have stopped counting.) But two bylines stand out in my mind.
One was my first state byline for a news copy that came out exactly one month after I had been interning. That was also the day the editor called me up to say that I had got the job there. It was not an extraordinary story but the timing is what I shall remember.
The next one is a byline I got today. It was for a travel piece (pretty much ilke the ones I write here) that was published on one whole page of the Sunday magazine section of the newspaper I work for. Now this page will be seen (I can't be sure of the readership!) by people in all of South India. The timing was near perfect too.
Just when I was a little down. I got up early this morning and rushed for the paper. The joy of seeing my name in print was just like the way I felt when I got a poem published in a local newspaper in Madikeri about 15 years ago. After many bylines, I had though it would not be a big deal. But no matter how many I get, the thrill never fades away. When you see your name on the page and think of the few others who will also see your name on it, all those long hours of slogging, those boring programmes, those rude people and those long hours of waiting fades away.
With the paper in your hand, you feel this sense of accomplishment, however small, a sense of having done it all. Right then, you feel like you have all the power in the world. Again and again, this feeling resurges, to give you the will to write, in spite of everything, to tell your story.