Telum Talks To… Irshath Mohamed, News Editor, Tamil Murasu
Interview

Telum Talks To… Irshath Mohamed, News Editor, Tamil Murasu

It’s been almost six years since you started working at Tamil Murasu, can you share how your journey with the newspaper has been thus far?
My journey with Tamil Murasu started as an accidental encounter in journalism. I had no plans or intentions to join journalism, but I later uncovered my hidden passion in news. I believe that my overt passion in Tamil language was instrumental in bringing me into Tamil Murasu.

With your current title as News Editor, what are some of the responsibilities you are taking on now?
I supervise the team of reporters in this vernacular newsroom. We are a lean and nimble team of journalists who cover hyperlocal Indian community content with other news types. As the News Editor, I am responsible for assigning diary assignments to the journalists, briefing them before they go out to gather news, getting debriefed after they are back from news gathering, editing the stories they write, and getting the stories ready for publication. I see the news being created till they are out on print and digital platforms.

Building contacts across government agencies, organisations, public relation agencies and other newsmakers is also something I focus on. It is my responsibility to look out for interesting stories from all possible sources.

How do you think the print landscape has changed since you started working at Tamil Murasu?
The print landscape is undergoing a major transformation as we see news consumption patterns evolve. The silver generation who are emotionally connected with print products is still in support of the print products but there is a growing audience who prefer to read their news from digital gadgets. Hence, we are proactively driving the digital transformation and bringing print with us in this transformation journey. The decline of print is inevitable, but its currency will still remain for some years to come.

With the 88th anniversary of Tamil Murasu coming up in July, what are some of the plans or projects your target audience can look out for?
Tamil Murasu has a rich history and its heritage dates back to 1935 when it started as a newsletter. From being a family-owned newspaper with its own printing press, it was bought by then Singapore Press Holdings Ltd (SPH) as a subsidiary company in 1995. It later became part of SPH’s English, Malay, Tamil Media Group (EMTM) in 2017 and remains as an integral part of EMTM in SPH Media after SPH was restructured to a company limited by guarantee in December 2021. This July, the newspaper is celebrating its 88th anniversary and to thank our readers, Tamil Murasu will be lifting its paywall for 88 days to offer everyone a seamless and uninterrupted access to its website and the online articles.

How do you make sure the stories put out remain relevant in this time and age?
Keeping our ears on the ground and being present in the community to look out for interesting people, events, happenings, and trends are crucial for us, as journalists of Tamil Murasu. We strive to bring out the best, most relevant stories to our readers. We keep up with the times and ensure the unique content we publish resonates with our readers as well as intrigues them.

Covering stories such as the ill practices of cargo companies who do not deliver the goods but charge customers exorbitantly, young entrepreneurs in the Indian community who venture into unique businesses, young sportsmen making strides, increase in vegan products apart from food, unique hobbies, various diets that people adopt, etc are some of the content we have published in recent times. We have also written long form features and interviews such as with Tamil Nadu's Chief Minister M.K.Stalin when he recently visited Singapore and with cinema stars from the Bollywood and Kollywood industries. These are all of interest to our readers.

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing editors, journalists and or reporters who cover the minority communities today?
Identifying news that concerns the community and finding angles that resonate with them is a challenge for editors at times. For journalists on the ground, the challenge lies in getting profiles who could speak the language or come from the community. We believe, and data has shown that when we tell a story through a profile, it reaches far and wide. With omnichannel news production these days, we also try our best to get profiles who could speak the language well, as we want them to appear on the videos.

What is a trait a News Editor must have when it comes to managing a team of reporters and why?
Being a good listener and discerning are important traits that a News Editor should have. Reporters are on the ground and they gather news from all sources by seeing, observing, hearing, reading and sensing possible newsworthy content. When they come back to the newsroom to debrief, the onus is on the News Editor to be a good listener and hear them out. At the next level, we ought to be discerning to ensure that all sides of the story are addressed and no stones are left unturned.

What kind of pitches does Tamil Murasu look out for and what are three things you appreciate in a pitch?
We look out for news of all genres. We prioritise any pitches with Indian profiles or angles that are of particular interest to our readers. As our team is very lean, we try our best to be nimble and write a variety of stories, and at the same time be selective in the pitches we accept. Hence, if profiles are being offered for interviews, we would appreciate a summary especially if the pitch comes with multiple features and events.
 

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