A top-down salute to a bottom-up revolution

What is the function of a “masthead”—nameplate, as some call it—in the modern era?

In the eyes of the traditionalists, the masthead is the calling card of the publication, sacrosanct, something that shouldn’t be touched because that is how readers recognise their morning poison.

Yes, if a newspaper is sold largely at the newsstand, but in a country where newspapers are largely delivered home by hawkers, does the reader, really notice the masthead every day? Or does he take it for granted?

The Times of India, like Google, merrily plays around with its masthead, incorporating images into it to celebrate festivals sometimes, and monetising it by selling it to advertisers on other occasions.

In the UK and USA, newspapers sometimes lower their masthead to announce big news. But how low can you go?

Above is the front page of The Telegraph, Calcutta, of 14 May 2011, the day after Mamata Banerjee‘s long march to “liberate” Bengal from the world’s longest democratically elected communist rule ended in her election, with the paper’s masthead at the rank bottom of the page.

Also read: Mastheads are no longer as sacred as they used to be

Selling the soul or sustaining the business?

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