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South meets North: ‘Deccan Herald’ now in Delhi

Karnataka’s oldest English newspaper, Deccan Herald, has made a brave northwards foray with the launch of its New Delhi edition on 11 December 2011, 100 years after political power moved to the national capital from the east.

Vol 1, No 1 of the 63-year-old Bangalore daily arrived this morning in the usual quiet, understated manner in which The Printers (Mysore) Pvt Ltd conducts things: no carpet bombing of copies, no “roadblock” of hoardings, no massive pre-subscription drives.

“We are happy to start the Delhi edition of Deccan Herald today. It’s the seventh edition since we launched the newspaper in Bangalore in June, 1948. Our strength is the trust we have won from our readers—a trust built on credibility and our commitment to objectivity. We offer you comprehensive coverage of news without bias,” said a front-page note from the paper’s editor, K.N. Tilak Kumar.

The launch issue with a cover price of Rs 5 has a 20-page main edition and this being a Sunday, an 8-page weekend culture section titled Sunday Herald. During the week, DH will serve Delhi versions of its usual fare:  a four-days-a-week city supplement titled Metrolife and a lifestyle supplement on Saturday titled Living.

Printed at the Indian Express press in Noida, DH‘s Delhi edition with four local pages gives the regional daily a more national profile, useful for reporters and newsmakers; and an additional publication centre that can be used to good effect on the advertisement tariff card.

But it also comes with massive challenges. The “Deccan” in the paper’s title has a distinctly south Indian feel; will it find resonance among readers in the North? Second, the New Delhi morning market is crowded with over a dozen newspapers with at least two more coming; can DH aspire for anything more than “organic growth”?

However, for sheer chutzpah, the timing of the Delhi launch takes some doing. Newspapers like The Telegraph have  pondered coming to Delhi for at least 15 years but have not found the strength to do so. Also, DH (designed by Palmer Watson) comes at a time when the Indian newspaper industry is facing several existential issues.

But DH has established itself as a horse for the long race over six decades. The arrival, therefore, of a serious newspaper from a group which has no interests other than journalism, when the Indian media is being asked probing questions on its methods, motives and motivations, can only be good augury.

Former India cricket captain Anil Kumble (centre), the chairman and joint managing director of The Printers (Mysore) Pvt Ltd K.N. Tilak Kumar (right), and the veteran journalist Kuldip Nayar at the launch of the Delhi edition of 'Deccan Herald' in New Delhi on Sunday, 11 December 2011

Also read: Coming soon, Deccan Herald from New Delhi

Finally, a redesign not done by Mario Garcia!

How Deccan Herald welcomed the Republic of India


K.N. Shanth Kumar back as editor of Praja Vani

Exactly two years to the day after he was ejected as editor of the Bangalore-based newspapers Deccan Herald and Praja Vani, K.N. Shanth Kumar (in picture) has been reinstated on the hot seat of the preeminent Kannada daily published by the family-owned The Printers (Mysore) Limited group.

Shanth Kumar took over from elder brother K.N. Tilak Kumar, who had replaced him at the editorial helm of the two papers in a midnight putsch on 14 February 2007. (The removal had been challenged in the courts and later withdrawn.)

Tilak Kumar, however, continues to remain editor of Deccan Herald.

The return of Shanth Kumar marks a clear but happy division of labour in the warring Netkalappa family. Deccan Herald lost its status of market leader to The Times of India in the late 1990s, and in recent years has had to face stiff competition from newer players like Deccan Chronicle and DNA.

Praja Vani, on the other hand, has managed to claw its way back to the top of the discerning Kannada reader’s mind, although Vijaya Karnataka (now part of the Times Group) continues to be ahead in the numbers game. But there is talk of fresh competition in the form of a Kannada daily from the stable of Rajeev Chandrashekhar of Jupiter Communications, which already has a presence in Karnataka through the Suvarna and Suvarna News Kannada channels.

Photograph: courtesy Facebook

Also read: The inside story of the Deccan Herald coup