Vinod Mehta on Editorials

Cogito, Ergo…
Till not very long ago, the Editorial Page constituted the heart of
the morning paper. If a good newspaper, as Arthur Miller observed, “is
a nation talking to itself” then that conversation is held mainly
through the eyes and ears of its editorial page writers. Now, like
most things in our shaky print media, the edit page is up for grabs.
Proprietors/brand managers/editors question its relevance in today’s
trivialised, celebrity-mad culture. One proprietor told me the page
was “pompous and preachy”. Partially true. When the late Girilal Jain
was editor of the Times of India in the 1980s, he claimed he wrote
only for the education of two individuals—the PM and the FM. Those
days, mercifully, are past. Unfortunately, we are in danger of
throwing out the baby with the bathwater!
The confusion regarding the relevance of the edit page is best
reflected in the constant changing of its format. Those dailies which
carry it are forever redesigning its look, adding or subtracting
elements, mucking around with the Leaders (The Times, London, has
shifted its editorials to Page 2, a move for which it has taken flak),
truncating readers’ letters, thus truncating the only forum where they
can be part of the aforementioned conversation…. The demolition
continues relentlessly.
I have no delusions about the sacred space’s popularity. It is
certainly not the page readers turn to first. (W.H. Auden confessed he
picked up his morning paper, read the headlines to see if some crazy
had blown up the world and then went straight to the sports pages.)
Nevertheless, it is the page which binds the paper; it is the “centre”
which “holds” the other sections. In short, it is the soul of the
paper. In a fiercely dissenting press, how is the reader to decide
what the stand of his favourite paper is? Mr Kumar of Chandni Chowk
needs to know what to make of Kapil Sibal’s ideas on education when
there are several conflicting views on his proposals. By all means,
create a modern, reader-friendly edit page, but don’t deny readers
necessary and thoughtful insight.
I would much rather have a newspaper without an edit page than one
which is printed for the benefit of the inestimable Kareena Kapoor!
Extracts from Delhi Dairy, Outlook Magazine

Posted via email from Karthi


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