Archive for March 15th, 2009

9 tips from a (super-successful) small paper editor

15 March 2009

As the Indian media gets larger and more corporatised, the voice of the small newspaper editor (and owner) is slowly but surely getting snuffed out. It’s almost as if the trials and tribulations of the editors (and owners) of big papers, magazines and TV stations are the only ones that matter.

Star of Mysore, published from the south Indian city of Mysore, is one of India’s most successful English language afternoon newspapers. The 16-page tabloid is 32 years old, sells over 32,000 copies, and has an advertising rate-card and ad-edit ratio that would put most large newspapers in the shade.

Its editor-in-chief K.B. Ganapathy (in picture) spoke to journalism students of the Karnataka State Open University recently, and a couple points he made are worth listening to.

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# “Sixty-two years after independence, the time has come to change the outdated media laws made by the British to control the natives. If erroneous reports are published, the editor, publisher, and printer have to face the music. But the person who prepared the script and the reporter go scot-free. It falls to the lot of the editor to make trips to the court and face legal action, while at the most the defaulting reporter can be sent home by the management.

“In the early years of newspaper publication, centuries ago, the number of pages used to be one or two or a few more which the editor could read and scrutinise. But today the bulk is such that no editor can scrutinise all the text going into a newspaper.  If the journalist who wrote the offending report is also penalised, it will result in responsibility on his or her part. The frequency of erroneous reporting will also come down.”

Ganapathy also offered tips to budding journalists:

# “I became a journalist out of love for writing and it still continues. This medium does not bring in money. Money can be earned only through blackmail or yellow journalism. Students should make journalism as their career only if service is their motto, not money.

1) Develop a healthy curiosity about everything

2) Aspire for a high level of general knowledge

3) Use your common sense

4) Develop the reading habit and read vociferously

5) Develop a rich vocabulary but show restraint in how you use it

6) Be confident but do not think only you are right

7) Avoid bias in spite of having to write bitter facts

8) Evaluate yourself regularly, and

9) Learn to work as part of a team.

Text and photograph: courtesy Star of Mysore

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