Parimala Bhat reads Sparshdnyan, one of the world’s few newspapers to cater to the visually impaired.
This week’s Sunday Guardian carries a story on Sparshdnyan, a newspaper in Braille for the visually impaired. Published out of Bombay twice a month, the 48-page paper is sent out to some 400 subscribers in Maharashtra.
The paper’s editor Swagat Thorat estimates readership at 24,000 copies per issue, most of them in the 18-35 segment that advertisers love, but not surprisingly the paper gets no ads.
The editor tells correspondent Rick Westhead that he receives 600-700 letters each issue, and covers his Rs 30,000 per month administrative costs by selling wildlife pictures.
“We cover almost everything,” Thorat says, “but there are a few topics we don’t like.”
One, surprisingly, is India’s national passion: cricket.
“The paper we use is very expensive because it’s so thick for the Braille and I just don’t want to waste it on a topic that is covered in so many other places,” he says.
“I want to make sure we have more on things like science technologies, missions to Mars, and maybe more on India’s foreign policy.”
Photograph: courtesy The Sunday Guardian
Read the full article: Braille newspaper shows blind new world
Contact Sparshdnyan: sprshdnyan [at] gmail [dot] com
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As it is, Indian cricket is a minefield. The team’s best batsmen (Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar) are reluctant to be captain. South Africans (Graham Ford) and Australians (Geoff Lawson) don’t want to be coach. The chief selector (Dilip Vengsarkar) wants to quit because he is not allowed to write his newspaper column. The cricket board won’t allow a top movie star (Shah Rukh Khan) to talk about his movie in a cricket stadium.
Somewhere, a journalist had to get into the act and Ajay Naidu has obliged. The freelance cricket journalist has been banned from entering the press box or press conferences at all units of the Board of Control for Cricket in India.
Reason: Naidu, while covering the third Test between India and Pakistan at the Chinnaswamy stadium in Bangalore, asked the official scorer in the press box to make an announcement allegedly on the basis of a note signed by Russell Radhakrishnan, travel assistant of the Indian team, on Sunday.
The announcement made was, “Rahul Dravid has called for a press conference to announce his retirement from Test cricket.” In actual fact, the announcement went thus, “There will be no press briefing by the Pakistan team, and from the Indian side, Rahul Dravid wants to talk to the media.”
A cricket board press release said: “On enquiry, it was found that Naidu had forged the signature of Russell. The BCCI condemns this act of Ajay Naidu aimed at causing embarrassment to Rahul in the midst of the Test match, and in order that such irresponsible incidents do not occur in the future, it is decided to ban the entry of Ajay Naidu in to the press box or press conference at any of the affiliated units of the Board. We are also advising immediate withdrawal of his accreditation card for all the international matches.”
Naidu sprang into the headlines earlier this year when he “scooped” an interview with Sachin Tendulkar, following India’s early World Cup exit, in which the master batsman lashed out at his commitment being questioned by the former coach, Greg Chappell. That interview appeared in The Times of India.
The greed of cash-rich sports organisations in bottomless. In September, the International Rugby Board sought to impose restrictions on media coverage of the World Cup, limiting photos and video on the internet, claiming intellectual property rights.
Now, cricket has followed suit. Cricket Australia, cricket’s governing body down under, has said it owns the IPR to all text, data and photographs taken inside “their venues” and wants news agencies to pay a licence fee to be able to distribute news photographs to their client newspapers and other news media.
The news agencies declined stating that they did not pay for news coverage.
Result: the first Test match between Australia and Sri Lanka went unreported by news agencies and many Sri Lankan newspapers. With India’s cricket board backing Cricket Australia, a messy battle looms.
“From what I understand, Cricket Australia is not charging private newspapers if they send their representatives and use photographs. They are only charging the agencies which are doing a business of selling pictures and data to client media organisations,” Indian cricket board secretary Niranjan Shah said.
The question at this rate is, can news agencies cover anything?
Illustration by M. Munaf, courtesy: The Sunday Times/ Colombo
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