Monday, March 10, 2008

Why is The Statesman dead?

It's unpleasant and untimely to write an obituary of a paper that still is in circulation. More so since it is a personal affair. I had interned (and with some very happy memories) with it between 2000 and 2002 when studying for a bachelor's degree at Delhi University. But I have to after what I came across today.

Hindustan Times had a single column piece on page 3 today about UNI journalist A.K. Singh's death. Among the various places he worked, The Statesman was one. But that's besides the point. What caught my attention was how the paper's name was spelt: The Statesmen. A small typographical error but of immense relevance, I'd say. Obviously the person who filed that report didn't even remember correctly how the paper's called. Even the editor who selected that news piece and cleared that page failed to catch the error. You'd expect journalists not to go wrong with names of papers and magazines.

What a fall therefore it is for a paper that was at the forefront of Indian journalism! And what could be worse for a such a distinguished paper than the fact that even media professionals now even fail to recall its name! What's galls more is that this pitiful state could have been avoided. With shifting interest to real estate, good journalism took a backseat. The final nail in the paper's coffin (at least in New Delhi) was the move to shift operations from the imposing Statesman House on Barakhamba Road to an obscure building in Noida. For those not from Delhi, that means a lot as commuting in a personal vehicle from central Delhi (where most government offices are situated) to Noida takes close to an hour. Most of the leading names with the paper have moved on. Several journalists who now report for HT were once with The Statesman in Delhi. The Kolkata edition too has slipped from the top slot to the third (behind The Telegraph and TOI). Maybe even fourth, after HT. Who cares... The Statesman's dead.


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