The royal print fluff-out

By Sunil K Poolani | 11 Oct 2001


A busy day as usual. Commuters bound for downtown Mumbai were scampering out of the station train at the Churchgate terminal. A Gujarati commuter approached a newspaper vendor and asked for a copy of Samantar.

Sorry, they have stopped publishing. Didnt you know? the vendor asked. Why did it fold up, asked the man in need.

There are many reasons why newspapers have had to close shop. The main reason has been that unless they can fetch the owners enough profits they are doomed. Many owners are beginning to expect profits quickly. They are not willing to wait.

Those immediate profits can, maybe, come from writing about the tritest things. For example, about the latest vamp walking the ramp. Haute couture has become more important than what some of us might think of as much more important issues.

The disaster has been unfolding for some time. Several established and well-performing newspapers have had to fold up their mastheads - some of the saddest deaths (let's just consider English publications) since the late 1980s being those of The Illustrated Weekly of India, The Indian Post and The Independent.

The year 2000, the sad saga took a nightmarish turn: Samantar was small fry, if you consider who else closed down - publications like The Sunday Observer, Sunday, The Observer of Business and Politics, The Daily and Blitz, to name a few.

The latest print media crisis is happening at a time when there are few dotcom bubbles left to burst. The dotcom disaster has been discussed to death, and, curiously, when the e-obit-writers were penning one dotcom obituary after another, they were also assuring the public that print would never die. Also, curiously, its happening when some TV channels have been facing serious problems.

True, print is not dying - at least a few (even if it is very few) newspapers are thriving by shifting to the more fluffy stuff. But is this likely to be a temporary thing? Will readers finally settle for more serious stuff on politics, economics, business and social and civic issues? And, then, will they revert to newspapers that are more serious?

What do you think? Do you think Indian newspapers should write more about?

  • Politics
  • Business and investments
  • Social issues
  • Civic issues
  • Sports
  • Films
  • Fashion
  • Arts and literature
  • Other topics

Voice your opinions.

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