N. Ram, chairman of Kasturi & Sons Limited and the former editor of The Hindu, on why the “family” reverted to its past after a brief flirtation with “professionals”, in an interview with Shougat Dasgupta of Tehelka:
“Editorialising in news reports, editorialising in the guise of news, which is strictly prohibited by the binding code of editorial values adopted by the Board of Directors of our company in 2011 and displayed on the home page of The Hindu‘s website.
“The Editor being away from our headquarters and most important edition centre and market, Chennai, far too often and far too long, sometimes for events in India and abroad that were peripheral, or completely unrelated, to the work of the newspaper.
“Weakening local coverage in key edition centres, especially our home base, and undertaking campaign journalism.
“Going for a surfeit of personalised columns at the expense of news coverage when space was under great pressure and pagination was being reduced.
“A lack of attention to detail and a failure to put in place an orderly system of editorial decision-making, which was aggravated by the fact that the Editor was frequently away from the headquarters.
“Letting strongly held personal opinions and prejudices get in the way of professional news coverage, so that it became impossible to keep the necessary professional distance in covering and presenting the news.
“Going for ‘soft design’ – chaotic, loud, sometimes garish, lacking any internal consistency or logic – and virtually doing away with the pure design that Mario Garcia, one of the world’s leading newspaper designers, and his team, working with our designers, had put in place for us.
“Making a number of inappropriate or maladroit editorial appointments, which culminated in the appointment of a totally unsuitable Executive Editor in the national capital.
“Resentment grew in some of our major news bureaus and a divide began to appear between the long-timers, who had spent decades of their professional lives with our newspaper and were familiar with its core values, and some of the higher-paid new-comers, often for no fault of the latter.”
Read the full interview: Family vs outsider
Photograph: courtesy The Hindu
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I find the reasons ‘reasonable.’ Whether they are accurate depends on the individual’s perception. the local coverage was indeed declining.
1. local coverage in the chennai edition increased (deeper and wider) under varadarajan. The campaign journalism were on civic issues (like lack of pavements and safety for pedestrians) and reader response was huge. most readers felt like they finally had a city newspaper that reflected their concerns. It was no longer the south madras paper that the city had been forced to read for years for lack of choice, and which many were giving up for the times of india.
2. if varadarajan had made incorrect appointments that harm the paper, is the hindu has shown no sign of getting rid of them. why, we read them in the paper daily!!!
3. as board members, they were free to raise any of the issue sin N rams list of complainsts with the editor they had appointed. why did they not do so? sounds like a list fo excuses to me.
We are talking about ‘reporting’ not running ‘campaigns.’ The primary job of the newspaper is to report and not run campaigns.
All the best to Mr N Ram. The Hindu will soon meet The Statesman in the nether world.
I agree what Alamemu wrote. Yes local coverage increased. Neutral articles appeared. But alas it is short lived. Again the same old, one sided, boring essays, again propped up.