TODAY -

Degrading charm of newspapers

Samarjit Kambam *

TOI Kolkatta Edition
TOI Kolkatta Edition



It is a common nature of newspaper subscribers to get a glance of the headlines of the front page as they pick up the paper from their doorsteps. Over and above the headlines, the significance of a newspaper lies with the overall composition its title, logo, headings, sub-headings and pictures on the front page that give a 'feel' of the very newspaper to the readers.

Of late, whenever I pick up a copy of the Times of India from my doorstep, it doesn't look like a newspaper at all after seeing the first page. One day I would see a big picture of a beautiful lady's face with the maxim 'Blend in, Step Out. Thats me, thats my vibe'. Getting vibery all over I looked at the second page fully occupied by another mammoth picture of a big hand catching a big smartphone and I found out that it was a continuation of the first page which turned out to be an advertisement for Lenovo smartphone 'Vibex'. Another day, an ad of a posh suburban residential area would occupy the whole front page.

Various other ads would fill up the whole front pages subsequently with maxims such as 'The best time to buy a Renault is now with Renault Koleos and Pulse', then ads for Borg the power company for supplying uninterrupted electricity to the public, sometimes of Samsung Galaxy Note 3+ Gear Smartphone and as if it were not enough an ad at the back page of the very paper would get beguiled with another ad of Coca-Cola with picture of the soft drink bigger than its actual size, ads of cars such as Ford Figo, SUVs such as Hyundai's Santa Fe, Saurabh Gangulay's Hiland Greens Project and Duyti Diamonds and at the next page again occupied by large ads of JK Tyres, etc etc.

Jug Surya, one of my favourite columnists of the national daily the Times of India who always goes for the Jugular and gives his Second Opinion after thorough scrutiny had rightly expressed in one of his columns that he had mistaken the Times of India national daily at his doorstep for a diary, a calendar, a yellow page or a chronicle of some sort and nothing else can be truer to what he had mentioned.

Again the beauty of freedom expression was ethically maintained by the Times of India Group by inserting that particular column even though it reflected the drawbacks, stains and ugly portions of their own newspaper. Our state of Manipur also has on its lap a variety of local dailies both in English and Manipuri edition. I should say that am really disheartened to go through some local dailies giving paramount importance to advertisements getting me jittery and confused whether it is a newspaper or an advertisement pamphlet.

Course, advertisements are also part of the survival kit of newspaper publication houses so as to enable them to reach out to the common people at an affordable price as cost of paper and ink, printing charges etc are rocketed sky high. But as the saying goes, "Too much of everything is not good", some local dailies (sic, I won't mention the names) are so loaded with advertisements that they don't look like newspapers after all.

The space of the ads far exceed the content of the very news. To some individuals it a big let-down when the advertisements are in full throttle at the very newspaper they are reading. Presently, ads of smartphones occupy lot of space in various local dailies followed by ads of varieties of Housies and the likes. Some of them have more than half the portion of pages occupied by ads.

This shows that most of the newspapers are getting highly corporatised and commercialised thereby looking like some sort of yellow pages, calendar or a diary. Some youngsters who are smartphone crazed are so obsessed with such ads that they skip all the news articles and directly head for the smartphones and mobile apps advertisement sections thereby defeating the very purpose of subscribing a newspaper.

That is not the end. Some newspapers select a topic for an incident happening outside our nation from different power search engine entities such as Google, Mozilla, Firefox, Wikipedia, MSN etc and directly place them on their paper which the reader can find out quite easily. It is an unhealthy practice, a kind of plagiarism which should not be motivated otherwise it may become a trend and the vitality and essence of the very newspaper may get doused or gradually wiped out.

At the moment it is not wrong to mention that the charm of reading newspapers have withered to a great extent because of the manifold reasons cited above. Nowadays, all the newspapers, magazines, journals etc can be read from tablets, smartphones, fablets, PC, laptops etc. But in a state like Manipur where the power supply is more than erratic the newspaper is one of the best means of information superhighway as it involves only papers, doesn't have a battery and need no charging like electrical gadgets.

Besides the charm as well as enjoyment of reading a newspaper over a cup of tea is unbounded and has been the trend since generations. In fact reading a newspaper in the morning is a common habit for most of the people.

The Sangai Express has also its own share of offerings of ads and give ample space for varieties of mobile smartphones, tablets, fablets, laptops etc. Still then compared to other local dailies TSE doesn't devour big space for ads unlike their counterparts.

I sincerely pray that those dedicated people working behind the veil of The Sangai Express daily newspaper offer limited space for advertisements so that it doesn't end up looking like a yellow page, a pamphlet, paraphernalia or an advertisement booklet. I honestly appeal to whoever is associated with TSE that they do their best so that the charm of reading it is not compromised and the principles, ideals and ethics of the paper is always maintained and not left at abeyance.

Let the Sangai Express, the largest circulated local daily prevail by climbing ahead one step ahead thereby making it a cut above the rest of other local dailies both qualitatively and quantitatively.


* Samarjit Kambam wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was posted on February 15, 2014.


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