IT People

The Professor of the Internet Era
Prof. Sreenath Sreenivasan
Graduate School of Journalism, Columbia University, New York.

"Got to do what you love, otherwise there is no point, money is not everything…"
By Reshmi Roy

SreenathIT People caught up with the young and dynamic Sreenath Sreenivasan, Professor of Journalism, Columbia University on his first visit to Bangalore. Named one of India Today's "40 leaders under 40" in the U.S., 2000, he specialises in training journalists to speak the different media "languages" -- print, new media & broadcast. He is also a freelance technology writer, a Web site critique and enjoys calling himself a networking nut.

Road to Columbia University
Born in Tokyo, Sreenath has spent most of his childhood globetrotting. As a child, he stayed in Bhutan and then in Moscow. He did his primary schooling in the US and high School in the Fiji Islands. At a very young age of fifteen, he became passionate about writing. His writing began with his contributions to the Fiji Sun. Sreenath came to India to do his B.A in History from St Stephens College, New Delhi and went back to the US to get an MS in Journalism from Columbia University. Soon after he was offered the position of a faculty in June 1993 in the University of Columbia and today he looks back to say, " It was funny because at that point of time, I knew just a little more than my students." He has been with the university for the last eight years now. When he does not teach, Sree works as a freelance journalist, having recently written for Time Digital, The New York Time, Business Week, Business Today, India Today and Rolling Stone.

Internet-- the new media
Sreenath got introduced to the world of Internet while he was studying in Delhi and it fascinated him. He fondly remembers the local intranet in St Stephens from where he used to send e-mails to his friends. " The first time I saw the Internet, it blew my mind, I knew this is the future." he says. This sparked off the interest in the New Media that was to become his career later. Sree's classes include "new media workshop" and "tools of the modern journalist." He also conducts lectures on how to "Improve your surfing" and new media storytelling in various newsrooms and educational institutions around the US and abroad. " I am very bullish about the new media ", he declares, "People are too down with the future of Internet, if they had been down with television in 1950 there would have been no TV today. We have got to be patient as we have given it only four years".

Hitting the Bull's eye
Sree is married to Roopa Unnikrishnan, famous in her own right. She is a Commonwealth Games gold medalist in rifle shooting (1998). She is an MBA from Oxford University and was chosen as India's 100th Rhodes Scholar in 1996. She went on to earn an Oxford Blue for excellence in academics and captaining the university shooting squad. At present, she is a management consultant in New York.

Networking nut!
Working for SAJA, [South Asian Journalists Association co-founded by him], a group of 800 South Asian journalists in New York and other cities, occupies a major part of Sreenath's time. He is a Net junkie and an evangelist; he loves getting people interested in the New Media and journalism. He enjoys talking to youngsters as well as parents about the Internet and online journalism. Besides that, he has avid interest in reading comic strips, Calvin & Hobbes being his favourite. He also reads Indian -English fictions, Amitav Ghosh being one his favourites. Old Hindi film music also interests him a great deal. He often relaxes by getting together with his friends and listening to old Hindi film music.

The teacher's teacher?
Sree recalls the time when he was staying with his grandmother in Kerala. Though he spent very little time there, it did have an impact on his life. He looks up to John Manipadam a priest and teacher at Loyola school, as his mentor who passed on his love for the language to the youngster. " He was extremely particular about crossing the t's and dotting the i's and taught me the value of teaching," he fondly remembers. He also acknowledges the contribution of his parents & grandparents in his life.

Work hard and play hard!
" Real professional people who do not want to make money, but want to make a difference in other's lives…" are the kind of people he holds in high esteem. He loves being in the company of people who have a good sense of humour, who enjoy good music and good movies -- in short, people " who work hard and play hard ".

Describing himself…
" A sucker for information …" that's how Sreenath describes himself. What are his strengths? Sree says, meeting people, listening to them and getting them to do things. Weak points? " Well … I am terrible at mathematics "..he quips.

Looking ahead
One of his main agendas in the next five years is to make SAJA a truly international network, which would help journalists all over the world to be in touch. He would really like to continue taking interest on the Internet, online journalism and teaching.

Favourite Websites

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