Rejuvenating LENS

In school, although a regular reader of LENS, I was never a member of the LENS squad that published the wallpaper. So, last fortnight (5 September), when I interacted with Loyola students about the publishing of LENS, I did not tell them about “those glorious years”; instead, I spoke to them about the future of LENS.

Publishing the School Newspaper - Talk

Not because LENS was bad in my time. In the 1980s, LENS used to be elegant — typewritten on a letterhead, with a green band a few inches from the top, the name “LENS” left-aligned and in maroon, a graphic of a lens to magnify the “L”, the expansion “Loyola English News Service” written beneath the logo, and available on the notice-board in front of the school office in the main building. Despite such attractiveness, the first word that comes to my mind when I think of LENS, is “irregular”. Because LENS was sometimes available in the Silver Jubilee Block, but often not. LENS was sometimes published every week, but often not. In my middle and high school years, LENS was like a 60+ in history from Fr Pulickal — you long for it, and you’ll get it one day, but not today.

A few years later, I learnt from other old boys that LENS had turned even more irregular — it got published well in the odd year, but in some years it did not appear at all, and the LENS squad was no longer a ‘star’ squad that students competed to join. This year’s school newsletter brought out before Onam holidays lists a few staff advisors for LENS, but doesn’t mention even one student’s name.

It seems funny, because the LENS largely disappeared at a time when desktop publishing wove itself into our lives, and opened up numerous ways of publishing LENS smarter. Today, than ever in the past, it is easier to snap pictures using digital camera, key in articles using MS Word, choose multi-column option, and get a neat printed look that rivals the frontpage of any mainstream newspaper. Also, it takes just an hour to get the e-version ready and publish online, to reach out to old boys and former teachers scattered across the world.

In an earlier post on the Great School Campaign, I had argued that the school was getting stronger in hardware (more computers, in this context), but probably weaker in software (poor training to bring out LENS). Rather than just whine, we decided to do something. We got in touch with a student who had published LENS this year. Noel and his friends were not officially in the LENS squad, but they had displayed initiative and talent. The school too welcomed our idea to rejuvenate LENS.

That’s how, last fortnight, I was speaking to Loyola students about the future of LENS — the heights it can achieve in two years. I talked about journalism principles, shared tips on reporting, editing and design, and outlined the possibilities of a web edition. That Friday evening, we took stock of where LENS is, and where LENS can be. We’ll now try to travel from point A to point B.

The rejuvenation of LENS is also an experiment where old boys partner with the school to make Loyola a great school. Because we aren’t satisfied with Loyola being a good school.

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Visit http://lens.loyolites.com to catch the first issue of 2008. To stay tuned, subscribe to our free, monthly e-newsletter.

14 Comments

  • Very good initiative indeed! As you said, this needed to happen much earlier. But it is better late than never. The e-version of LENS should have a link at the school website also.

    With time the school can have an intranet with staff and students having internal mail-id’s and discussion forums, just like it is there in many colleges.

  • ” a time when desktop publishing wove itself into our lives, and opened up numerous ways of publishing ”

    This time it [LENS] will work because whatever effort involved is lightweight, and sustainable [the computer is here to stay, as I have mentioned before (as well)].

  • Karthik, yes. I’ve heard that the school is planning a revamped website. Your intranet vision sounds interesting.

    Vishnu, I wouldn’t call the effort required “lightweight”. Whether online or printed, the real challenge has always been in regularly coming up with content, not in layout. The computer widens possibilities, but does not generate content on its own. Wasn’t your experience with the LOBA newsletter similar? Technology hasn’t ensured regular LENS or LOBA newsletters.

  • I dont know what happened, but the ISC 2008 Batch tried a lot to resurrect LENS and give it a new look. With a lot of Photoshop and all (Credits to Gejo GC, Syamnath JG and Navin PL, they were the backbone.), we were successful in giving the Lens a new touch. The same can be seen in the latest issue of Lens. And Credits and Congrats to the new chaps of Lens. They’ve done a great job, not only in getting this issue out, but maintaining the same everything that sets the Lens Apart.

    I agree with Ashok chettan on the Software part. Somehow our school is kinda short of good quality software. We didnt have anything on that system…had to install everything from scratch. The lab runs on GNu Linux, the old version that our Govt., consisting of even older people, supply us with. Even the free and open source softs are not updated.

    And I seriously think our school needs to train people with basic softwares like Flash, Photosop, Pagemaker, Illustartor, Maya and 3ds Max, and definitely in Linux Distros like SuSe, Fedora and Kubuntu, the latest ones. Skills in these always come in handy.

    I hope some chap takes the responsibility and do something about it.

    I don’t know the status of LENS now. But I am really looking forward to find a kickass issue on the Noticeboard when I come back to school.

  • I really liked the Bang on Target column. Criticism of the administration and voicing of opinion was never a strong point of Loyolites. Maybe this will better things. Maybe.

  • Nitin, I didn’t mean that ‘software’.

    Bimal, yep. For the moment, I’ll be happy with guys picking up newspaper publishing skills (including mild knocks on the admn). I sowed a few seeds for that too, in my talk. But didn’t delve much because Loyolites pick up sarcasm and criticism skills even before reaching Std 10 🙂

  • Lol. That’s true. We can be a bunch of insufferable pricks even at the tender age of 15. But the issue is that actual to-the-face criticism of the administration NEVER takes place. Maybe its a good thing. School is not college, and there’s more than enough time to criticise the administration in college. In fact, that’s all we seem to do in college!

    Then again, maybe its not.

  • The art of criticism, the mustering of support…the school itself could be the playground for picking up these skills. Loyolites are talkers, than doers. We feel that criticising is fine, but sitting for dharna is bad. LENS is somewhere in the middle — using the school paper for voicing concerns is fine, but stronger criticism will be seen as unnecessary and undesirable. Tilak and Gandhi weren’t Loyolites.

  • Hi Ashok,
    Kiran from the 97 ISC bacth.. it is indeed great to see “THE” Lens back online.. great effort.. it feels great to read something directly from School.. my first thought was am i caught in a time warp 🙂

    Kiran

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