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.
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.