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Tarun Shukla - Aviation & Defence Editor at The Economic Times (Prime) | Award-Winning Journalist

Tarun Shukla

Tarun Shukla

Tarun Shukla

Crucial Success Skills Forged Through My Journey

As a journalist with around twenty years in the profession, several skills have been crucial to my success including a sharp tunnel-view to dig deep, find accurate information, critically analyze it, identify biases, and present a balanced perspective. All this with the highest level of ethics and with the public's interest always in mind. Over the years, I've worked hard on refining my writing style even more to effectively communicate complex business ideas to a diverse set of audience and therefore I have not just broken big news stories but also excelled in long-form investigative journalism.

Crafting Creative Opportunities from Every Challenge

Approaching adversity as a journalist involves resilience, problem-solving, and maintaining focus on the mission of providing accurate, impactful reporting. Instead of dwelling on the problem, I focus on finding solutions. When I hit a wall I don't bog down but keep tinkering about how to get around it. For example, when people block me from giving information or it comes with strings attached, I try to work hard to find alternate ways of getting that information with adequate verification thrown in. 

Similarly, to step back a little, when a bank manager in Meerut, where I was born and raised, refused to give me a loan for journalism studies after school saying that journalism is not an ideal profession for me because my father was in State Bank of India and our family did not come from a political background I migrated to Delhi worked at a call center in Gurugram at night and enrolled for journalism classes during morning hours. A year and a half later I got into The Pioneer. The departmental head of the international call center, Convergys, where I worked to sell American Express Platinum cards to wealthy Americans, refused to release me saying I was "crazy" because I was a top performer and was still willing to leave a Rs 40,000 monthly salary to join The Pioneer for a "measly" sum of Rs 5,000 a month. He said he would promote me very soon too, but I did not yield. In hindsight, not only I was able to study journalism without taking any loans or family funds but also landed a journalism job. Some of the savings from the call center days helped me survive the initially tough years of journalism. I have since been part of the founding team of two successful media startups in the country - Hindustan Times' Mint and The Economic Times' ET Prime. The motto is never to give up.

My Impact

Even after so many years, I still remind myself that my journalistic mission is informing the public, holding power to account, and amplifying marginalized voices.I have been sent legal stinkers and sued in the process but reporting honestly has helped my readers make better decisions, and change government policies in favour of the public and the process builds (not intentionally) a small social media following too.

Scaling New Heights in Personal and Professional Triumphs

Success in journalism can be measured in various ways. Tracking the reach, influence, reader comments and outcomes of my reporting helps me assess its impact immediately. Besides recognition from peers, industry professionals, and awards reinforce if you are on the right path. There is a very fine line between being a journalist and being an activist and one needs to be careful to not slide into activism in trying to be a good journalist. 

For that, detachment is often the key. Over these years I have also won both international and local awards for my investigative journalism and that has kept my morale high. Besides I have been featured in the international media, commissioned to write a book, selected for an international fellowship and given the opportunity to report for The Wall Street Journal in the US.

The Synergy Between My Path and Recognition Values

The awards stand to highlight the good work around us and I hope that my journalism journey, dedication and the values I have carefully kept alive will inspire aspiring journalists and other professionals to stand up and navigate their own paths and soldier on too.

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