Daily Archives: 17 November 2006

Switch on that lovely chandelier, darling

How many of us journalists have houses which can support chandeliers? Worse, how many of our readers have houses which can support chandeliers? The answer to the first question is easy. The answer to the second is not so easy. But sometimes it might be useful to ask these questions as we did at this evening’s editorial meeting.

The provocation was an item on Usha Prasad‘s BVT list on the said subject for the Monday paper. (Because of advanced deadlines, our BVT is now a “cold product”. In other words, the supplement is put to bed around 2 pm, unlike the main edition. So, invariably we are talking of stories much before the deadline and dateline.)

Anyway, the mention of the word chandelier provoked the usual guffaw from the bleeding heart liberals in the crowd (and who doesn’t know who they are). Can our readers afford such chandeliers? Does such information serve any purpose? It’s the same question we ask when we see the recipes of exotic dishes made by five-star chefs.

Who in his (or her) right mind would make them?

The richest journalist among us (the man who went 700-foot down to dig a borewell for his darling daughter’s new house) doesn’t have chandeliers. Son of Srikantaiah doesn’t have one. Ditto and likewise.

So, why do we run them?

The answer is obvious and slightly disappointing: Features like these come easy. Well-oiled PR machineries whirr into action when the subject is broached, and a ready-to-print information comes complete with breathtaking pictures as attachments. Sure, the reporter/writer does some legwork, but does it serve the reader beyond inspiring awe, or, worse, a yawn?

On the other hand, as Usha says, how many times can we keep writing on the 60W bulbs we have at home?


Do newspapers have a future?

The Independent, London, has run a 5,227 word article on the future of newspapers, in which the who’s who of publishing gazes into the crystal ball. Here’s what Piers Morgan, the legendary tabloid editor, says:

Every newspaper has a great future online. End of story. Within five years every newspaper will be free and they’ll all be online. And if they’re not, they should be. There will still be a presence in print but that will be for older readers and you will find that anybody under the age of 35 will only read newspapers online. It will be the newspapers who are the most dynamic online who win. Any newspaper editor or proprietor who believes they will escape this inevitable translation from newsprint to online will get buried. They are under a massive misapprehension. If newspapers do it right and invest now they will be successful and make lots of money. It’s not the death of the paper. It’s the morphing of the paper from a print version to online.

(The article is not available online but whoever wants a copy can borrow it from me.)