“It's an absolute khichuri!” says Ehsanur Raza Ronny, editor of the brand new upcoming youth supplement Shout. Shout is made to appeal to the generation known as the 'change makers'. According to statistics, 75 percent of the population in the country is under 35 and Shout is for them.
Shout will be out four days a week that will come out with the Daily Star, very soon. For the first time ever, ideas, colours, concepts and stories from Rising Stars and the Star Campus -- two of the most popular youth supplements in the country -- will merge together to create something bigger and much more vibrant, for the young crowd in Bangladesh.
“Our main objective is to make everything easier for this generation to relate to," says Ahmad Ibrahim, sub-editor, Shout. "Everyone has this belief that this generation is not interested in politics and other important social issues -- not true at all! What we plan on doing is to get the words of the youth and put them on paper to make the stories easier for our readers to relate to. We want the youth to read each piece and we want those pieces to have a positive impact on them,”
The idea of Shout is sudden, drastic, a lot of 'drama' right from the start- but what it will do is bring new hope, excitement, plans and intense brainstorming amongst everyone. A corner of Level 7 at the Daily Star building is filled with a bunch of young writers, thinkers, designers and editors, trying to bring about this change. “We were informed of this, let's call it 'fiasco' late January and we were supposed to go on print on March 15, but of course, due to the political situation, some marketing issues and the unavailability of a graphic designer, we could not. Even though upsetting, the delay actually was of great help as we got some time to think things through, come up with content, make some dummies and all of that,” says Ronny.
The news broke hearts. There were people from different departments, readers, editors, with different opinions. Some wanted Star Campus and Rising Stars to still run, while others wanted to try something new and fresh.
“Obviously I am very sad about these two sections closing down. I was the second editor of Rising Stars and I saw it grow. It was one of the extra-ordinary projects of The Daily Star which helped raise the voices of young children who barely ever got a platform of their own," says Aasha Mehreen Amin, Editor, Star Magazine. "Star Campus readers, university students mainly, will have to face a big shock once the magazine closes down because it was something these kids turned to for their weekly dose of information. Shout will be a challenge, there's no denying that. But I think after they reassure their readers that it is a combination of Rising Stars and Star Campus and even more, it will be a great platform for the youth. The youth nowadays have gaps between them- with the education system, politics and a lot of other factors dividing them from each other. Shout will hopefully be able to bridge those gaps and connect the youth and bring them together,”
After the news was suddenly dropped on all our heads, there was despair, there was shock. But then the plans had to be made soon since there was barely any time according to the previous decision of publishing in March.
It was difficult for Ronny and his team to get a hang of things, but figuring out content wasn't one. Once they got their core topics, everything else just came to them naturally. But this time, it was more serious compared to what they had done previously with Rising Stars, this time they had to dig deeper into their stories and work harder with each assignment. Even though figuring out content and assigning them were fairly simple, the hardest part came when it was time for graphics. “It's very hard to find a graphic designer nowadays since most of them work as freelancers. The problem with us is that we are so used to our layout with Rising Stars, that getting into the more 'serious' groove in terms of layout is becoming a little difficult," says Ronny.
Even though Ronny had no immediate connection to Star Campus, what he did have were friends from the magazine and respect for it. “I never worked for Star Campus, but I understood its appeal and importance. It was a very important platform to a very important group of people in our society. It is still an integral part of the paper and it's going to be hard to let go of that too.”
Yes, saying goodbye is going to be hard- for the editors, for the mentors, for the writers and readers. But with the kind of hope that dwells within all of our hearts, Shout will not be too far behind for too long.
So what is Shout really about? It's about finding hidden talent and showing them the opportunities out there, it’s to give information; it's to give the youth the courage to break out and find out that they are not alone. It is to give them the ability to do the right things.
Gear up for Shout because we are not really going anywhere, we are just getting BIGGER, BETTER, LOUDER!