Sunday, November 20, 2005

Of two people and two papers . . .

Today's Sunday pull-out of both The Maharastra Herald(MH) (run by the Sakal group and not to be confused with The Herald, or the Deccan Herald) and The Times of India would make an excellent case study about the nature and content of the two newspapers.

The colour supplement along with The Sunday Times today, which might have been read by many, features Vikram Seth - fresh after a release of a new book. The much famous, the much in-the-limelight and definitely one of the most cherished sons of the Indian literary fraternity. The piece is poetic and languid, and carefully crafted. It's breaking at the barriers of scaling literary ladders while describing the subject at hand. Seth - with his bisexuality, a caring family and numerous best-sellers would be an interviewer's delight - and an editor's cover page target. And so as all the equations churn out the right munbers, Seth makes it to the front page. A few weeks after the release, his book needs another gentle push on the swing, to keep the stone rolling, to keep the publishers happy. And so Seth smiles, he gives off a few snippets and anecdotes from here and there - and thus is fixed another peg in his marketing campaign. Of course, the papers love it. Seth is after all - glossy, magazine material.

The MH carries a article about Ruskin Bond. The pages are not glossy. Colour is barely used, with a sketch used instead of a photograph. The piece wanders. Pulling Bond's leg about his technological naïveté. Mistaking the mobile phone for a TV remote - his dusty old typewriter and even his routine domestic problems with the LPG connection. The piece articulates his commonness, his simple style of writing and the reactions of a sleepy town to it's most remarkable inhabitant. There are a few worldy references about Vishal Bharadwaj's much-acclaimed movie version of Bond's book - The Blue Umbrella , and also to Bond's reactions to a previous adaptation - Junoon. A courte formal Q&A interview about his writing and a vivid description of the life he is leading. The article is rooted in it's affection for everything simple. Almost a Gandhian love for Bond's small idiosyncrasies. The piece overall is a synechdoche for the values of the paper in general. Common people, common values and a simple, lucid style.

I must say that I enjoyed reading both the pieces, In the Humble Author's Garden (Nona Walia, Vikram Seth) and Ruskin Naturally (Malini Nair, Ruskin Bond) with an equal, eager interest. However the point being made is about the sensibilities of the two papers - one highly tuned into the stream of trends, circles of wealth and power, fashion and currency and the like - while another is strongly rooted, going about, making a niche, documenting simple, day-to-day, matters-to-the-common man news.

Is there is still hope that a newspaper might emerge, with no keep-advertisers-happy compulsions, in-tune with the haute couture as well as with the hoi polloi. Not an unbiased newspaper - because bland, off the lip reporting would be unpalatable - but a paper that takes a stand, argues for it and hears out it's opponents. What is need is a reader sensitive newspaper, and I, at least in Pune, don't have one.

(PS : The lack of such a newspaper makes it easy for me to conclude, without any further research, that the existing print media industry is controlled, if not fully at least partly by a some setup of external 'string' controls. Experts in this field are free to point out the exact details. )



Perestroika said...

I would say that 'the indian express', is truly a newspaper which takes into account current issues of national and social importance and their articles are well researched and truly represent todays issues. Their current India empowered series is too good. Also they they were the first to report 'rape of the rocks' few years back and several other issues which i cant remember offhand.

PS. acc to me, the times of india, is just a showpiece newspaper.

Perestroika said...

have got u linked.

Abhishek said...

thanks, IE is too Crime-gung-ho for me.