10 July 2016


The Good and the Bad and the Ugly aspects of News papers:
In 2011, India led the world in terms of newspaper circulation with nearly 330 million newspapers circulated daily. The greatest numbers of news paper subscribers are in India. Around 75 of the 100 best selling newspapers are in Asia and seven out of top ten are Japanese newspapers.
Here is in brief article on our own news papers and our reading habits.
When one gets a news paper in the morning, the first thing we do varies from person to person. During our younger days we used to go to wheeler in the railway station just to look at the photograph of a lady on the last page of Blitz, later on the hawker stapled it. Every educated house in cities and large towns used to subscribe to news papers. The statesman was for its editorial and good English. The Hindu and TOI news papers were for their volume and resell value. Some of my class mates who became IAS in later part of their life used to read the editorial of Statesman news paper. At the end of the day their father would ask them to summarize what they had read in the news paper.
During 60s there were only 3 Odiya news papers, Samaj, Matrubhumi & Prajatantra. Only Samaj has stood the test of time. Similarly there were few English news papers, Calcutta edition of The Statesman, The Hindustan Standard, Delhi Edition of TOI, Madras edition of The Hindu. Very few people subscribed to other news papers which were published in India but were not so popular in Odisha because of stale news.
The working class would read it in the common room of their office. Some hire the news paper from their friendly neighbor’s wife along with a cup of tea. The house wives in those days had no time to look at the news papers because they had hardly any spare time, with five or more children to look after, one more growing in the womb, taking care of cows, housekeeping, cooking, house and floor cleaning and many more. The house wives were not interested in news which did not affect them or their family. If some were interested in news then they would hear it from AIR-radio or from their neighbors or husband. During that period one would get two to three days old news papers in villages and small towns. Some used to subscribe through book posts. They used to say –news is news until you know it. Due to delay in delivery of English news papers from Delhi and Madras the Statesman and Hindustan Standard were subscribed by most of the educated mass and institutions in Odisha, Assam, Bihar and Bengal. Keeping news paper cuttings, of some interesting photographs, news or editorial were a good hobby by few of the school going children not any more. Many of the students learnt new words and sentence making from news papers.
Coming to present news paper readers we will divide them in to five categories. The first group mostly the working house wives. They just skip the pages and take a glimpse of all large lettered headlines & ‘Rashi Phala’. Younger generations do not believe in reading hard copy news paper, at best they see the score board of the cricket match played previous night, or read it from tablets or smart phones if there is a Wi-Fi around. The third group is our senior citizens, who after coming back from morning walk would search for the news papers like a lunatic. Many of the septuagenarians would love to read the obituary first, to know how many people of their age group have died recently and political development in the state. There is another group 4th-who read the editorial first, but that number is limited. Good editorials are a rarity now days because of different reasons. Fifth group is common, loves to read negative news and the rest enjoy reading adverse ‘Modi’ news or some with positive aspects of inauguration photographs with news of white clothed CMs of different projects which may take 20 to 30 years to start, but they are happy as if the project would start from next day ! Some feel excited to read the present USA, President Election fight between a lady and a business man, as if the result of that election/selection would lift India to Mars. Due to Television the excitement of reading news paper is no more; it’s just like smoking a cigarette before going to toilet. Some  steal the neighbor’s news paper read it and replace it, as all the members of that house have gone out and the poor ‘news paper’ goes on hanging at the main gate grill till the color of the paper gets changed by evening. With face book around one need not subscribe to any news paper, its being posted by one and all. In some places one news paper cost is being shared by three families. Some clients spend their waiting time in saloon looking at film magazines, debonair and some old news papers.
There is a page which is the main attraction of the young and old—the raunchy picture page. Many of the news papers are difficult to differentiate whether they belong to a film magazine category or a news paper? Majority of cheap and sadistic readers love to read burglary, rape, accidents, earth quacks, bomb blasts and price rise news, their numbers are slowly raising so also the sell of news papers. You get all sorts of funny news like a 3rdgrade Hindi film hero has a surrogate child or an actress is going to be a mother for the first time at the age of 56 years! The divorce news or court news of the film heroes takes the headlines of front pages of almost all new papers. News papers make heroes out of zeros. They make trouble makers and law breakers as innocent citizens and the police and army as villain. Animals are also projected as great villains even though they are killed by innocent villagers though high voltage current. Just to fill up the pages many old out dated news are also published or copied from internet, so do not believe what news papers say, next day there may be a foot note saying ‘sorry’.
Another group sits down with a calculator and aid up all dead due to terrorist attacks, accidents and snake bites. During 1980s, some news papers were sold to the kabadiwalla for one rupee, the paper price being two rupees. These old news papers were being used by the sari making industry of Banaras. Now you know why certain news paper is the highest selling news paper, it’s the price, volume and raunchy photographs? The writers for different columns are fixed and they write on the same topic in the same page. Only the English professors or journalist from Oxford can understand the head and tail of those articles. Few news paper believes in—“Sardar saatar saals se aap ka nimak khaya hey”-philosophy.
Lastly as long as Indians are there, News paper Industry will never die because they go mad without a news paper. This is a form of addiction, very difficult to give up. So friends, I wish you a happy reading of Indian news papers.
PS: This type of articles will never get published in any news papers in India  as the writer is neither a professor of English, ex.MP, nor a retired administrative officer.

Sanjoy Satpathy.M.D

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