On the day politicians count their seats in the Karnataka assembly elections, the 65-year-old Kannada daily newspaper Praja Vani, from the Deccan Herald group, has a page one, colour-coded graphic that chronicles the journeys undertaken by its reporters to bring the poll to its readers.
The final score: over 27 days, 10 reporters (including three women) travelled 15,000 kilometres to bring 66 spot reports.
Dinesh Amin Mattoo, Praja Vani‘s well-regarded former Delhi bureau chief, now an assistant editor based in Bangalore (represented in red), alone travelled 4,150 km across 14 of the State’s 30 districts.
On the birth anniversary of the father of the Indian Constitution, Dr B.R. Ambedkar, the Kannada newspaper from the Bangalore-based Deccan Herald group has brought out a special issue, guest-edited by the Dalit writer and social activist, Devanur Mahadeva.
Eight broadsheet pages of the 16-page main edition—plus seven out of eight pages in two four-page broadsheet supplements—have pieces commissioned by the guest editor.
In all, there are 37 pieces of text, led by an introduction from the paper’s editor, K.N. Shanth Kumar.
Each of the pages carrying the pieces has a common panel that reads “Swatantra, Samanathe, Sodarathe” (freedom, equality, fraternity) and each article carrying the piece has an icon of Ambedkar.
Among the articles, a business page report on India’s first Dalit bank; a metro section story on why Bollywood ignores Ambedkar; and an edit page piece on the need for social police.
Bangalore’s oldest English newspaper, Deccan Herald, is launching an edition in New Delhi, making it the first South Indian publication to reach out to readers and advertisers in the North with a decidedly South Indian title.
There has been no formal announcement from the family-owned group yet, but the buzz is that the edition may take off as early as this December, to coincide with the 100th anniversary of New Delhi as the capital of India.
An advertisement in the Delhi edition of The Hindu makes DH‘s plans clear. The ad seeks a news editor, sub-editors, city and sports reporters, artists and photojournalists “for its edition in the national capital.”
The Madras-based Hindu has long printed an edition from Delhi, but “Hindu” is a generic name with wider appeal. And the Hyderabad-based Deccan Chronicle comes out in Delhi and other cities as The Asian Age.
The “Deccan” in DH‘s title presents an altogether different challenge in terms of acceptance, especially among non-Karnataka readers unaware of the brand, its values or its core strengths.
The 63-year-old Deccan Herald pondered the possibilities of editions in the southern States in the mid 1990s, but was pegged back by a fractious family fight among the three brothers who own the paper (K.N. Hari Kumar, K.N. Tilak Kumar and K.N. Shanth Kumar) and the concomitant success of the revamped Bangalore edition of The Times of India.
Notwithstanding the exponential growth of the print media post-liberalisation, it is clear that the voice of journalists in the publications they bring out is subservient to that of the proprietor, promoter and publisher on most issues and certainly so on the Majithia wage board for journalists and “other newspaper employees”.
Although owners and managers have unabashedly used the columns of their newspapers to rile against higher wages and build “public opinion” against the Majithia wage board through reports, opinion pieces and advertisements, a similar facility has been unavailable for journalists to air their views in the same publications.
It is as if journalists and “other newspaper employees”, whether on contract or otherwise, are in sync with their organisations in opposing the wage board’s recommendations. Which is, of course, far from the truth. Which is, of course, why a nationwide strike has been slated for June 28 to draw attention to journalists’ demands.
So, what do you think?
Is there a case for higher wages for journalists and “other newspaper employees”? Should the Majithia wage board be implemented or should wage boards be abolished? Are newspapers, which are rolling in profits, exploiting journalists with low wages and longer working hours? Or should journalists wisen up to the realities of the modern work place?
Is there truth in the charge that industry organisations like the Indian Newspaper Society (INS) are being used by big newspaper groups to prevent if not stall the new wages? Or is the contention of newspaper owners that they will wilt and crumble under the pressure of a higher wage bill justified?
Note: This sans serif poll is protected from repeat voting. Only one vote per computer, per IP address.
What are the occupational hazards of interviewing a Naxal leader in India today?
Two notices under four Acts.
Rahul Belagali, a reporter of the mass-circulation Kannada daily Praja Vani, met a leader of the communist party of India (Maoist), at an “undisclosed” location last year.
His paper subsequently printed the interview.
Gauri Lankesh writes in Tehelka that the reporter was first threatened with action under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act of 1967 if he did not cooperate with the police who were trying to obtain more information about a Maoist leader.
Then, in a subsequent notice, the police have threatened to book him and his paper’s associate editor Padmaraj Dandavate under the Indian Arms Act, the Destruction of Government Property Act, the Explosives Act, and the dreaded UAPA.
For the record, the police who have threatned action belong to the home-district of Karnataka chief minister B.S. Yediyurappa.