Enthused by the reaction to my previous blog on the newspapers being another casualty of Covid 19, I am encouraged to write another blog on newspapers.
Many readers reacted by naming the daily they either read in their childhood or youth or adored. One reader told me about Tribune, Chandigarh, a newspaper once edited by highly respectable Prem Bhatia. In fact, there was a time when not only the newspaper, but the editors at the helm of these popular dailies acquired almost cult status. Redoubtable Khushwant Singh, after Illustrated Weekly, came to edit Hindustan Times and elevated its popularity to unprecedented heights. His weekly column, “ With malice towards one and all” appearing in the Saturday editions lent the required chutzpah to otherwise drab and serious national dailies. My grandfather loved Girilal Jain, who steered Times of India for many years. He used to especially borrow copy of Statesman from his neighbour to read editorials by S Nihal Singh. And who can forget columnists and cartoonists? If R K Laxman remained incomparable, Sudhir Dar, Mario Miranda and Abu Abraham were equally formidable.
In Mumbai, TOI has remained numero uno all along and HT was a late entrant. Indian Express ( before family division) was a formidable competitor. In Delhi, HT led the number game, though TOI, through its innovative strategy, almost overthrew HT from the top slot. But once Delhi did have respected newspapers like Indian Express and Statesman that had their dedicated set of readers. I also loved Patriot that had two three pages dedicated to Bollywood. There was also National Herald and later Pioneer. Kolkata had duopoly of Statesman and Telegraph though TOI, a late entrant disrupted the market. HT also entered Kolkata market to further wean away the share from the older publications. Chennai had its Hindu, which later started Gurgaon edition through satellite, though Deccan Herald and Indian Express were formidable too.
Mumbai, probably due to train culture , also had a number of mid morning tabloids – Afternoon Courier and Despatch, Mid Day ( still there) and Evening News ( it had a Delhi edition too! ) and then there were publications like Blitz that were most respected.
And here I am not at all talking of vernacular dailies that were loved ( and a few are still lapped up by readers) and I would place Ananda Bazaar Patrika ahead of all others for its literary bent! Probably vernacular dailies deserve a separate blog on them.
Today except an economist par excellence, Swaminathan Anklesria Aiyer, who heads ET, I don’t think anyone remembers the editors of eminent dailies.
It’s part of the change. Who ever thought print media will lose battle to electronic media? Who waits for the morning newspaper to break a news? All the news appear so stale having been acquainted with the fact hours ago thanks to internet alerts! Except for a habituated and connoisseurs of language and activities such as crossword, sudoku. Word jumble, kakuro and cartoon strips ( Blondie and Archie are my favourites) like me, who I presume are handful, newspapers seem to be close to their demise! Or may be I am at a stage of my life when nostalgia of the past is more overwhelming than the future happenings!