A Letter of Condolence to The Editor
The TOI as is fondly revered amongst its nationwide readers is generally looked up for a variety of informative and entertaining articles. But off late the trend seems to be taking a turn for the worst. The only thing that the common man and the readers look forward to, spending three rupees a day is the common man himself and the centre page saving grace and sacred space. One cursory glance at the events that made the headlines over the fortnight is all it takes for anybody and nobody to understand why the editor doesn’t even believe in dropping names of the editorial staff in all the 20 sheets of cluttered newsprint.
The headlines were about the cost of furnishing and tiling a thirteen floor high rise in Surat, the tiling of a twelve floor high rise in Surat, a duplex in Surat, the new roads planned in Surat, a census of Surat’s diamond merchants, their likes & dislikes of the artificially sweet gujarati cuisine and not to forget their aesthetic dressing sense in different shades of white. Surat, more Surat, even more of Surat. Now, how should one grade an article on Surat’s diamond industry that doesn’t mention the ‘angadias’ anywhere in the whole of the half page? Downright bad journalism or simply bad editing.
Having been fed with piping hot coffee and ‘The Hindu’ or ’The Indian Express’ over the years, it should have sounded as a welcome change to the colourful TOI. But on closer introspection the color is all but a glaring collage without any artist to give finishing touches to make the shades pleasing and convey some meaning. Every page of news faces tough competition from the coveted classifieds. The journalist is reduced to a farce with news outsourced or pirated right from the internet or an unknown alien daily that wrote about Britney Spears’ colour of underpants. Not just classifieds, self-proclamations about digging out truth from the omnipresent confusion, opinion polls, views and counter-views fill the centre-page. With articles arranged so higgledy-piggledy how is it possible for the editor to pen his editorial, that too in the centre-page? Having seen such a trashy centre-page, it was but a pleasing thought that fleeted across the numbed mind when confronted by an apparition of an editorial; that was introduced without much fanfare or a gala page 3 party. Now that’s one area these guys are totally professional in. The truly exciting and novel sight that’s bringing about a cultural revolution in the social circles in terms of booze, fag, sense & nonsense; in varying stages of undress –P3P & its glitters. Another question pops up like a cotton seed: How tough is the competition given to ‘Filmfare’ & ‘Gladrags’?
The second last straw that broke my tender back and made me pick up my rusty pen was the headline of Rambo, the heroic dog of Raveena Tandon- a lady known for her off-screen romances( and not to forget her on-screen hip-breaking histrionics for the gastronomically troubled) lost in the cruel streets of Bombay, kidnapped & held for ransom. Some tender hearts fluttered, ECG’s dipped, floodgates opened that Bollywood and its gallons of glycerine couldn’t, tugging heartstrings and causing such emotional turmoil equalled only by hours of agony spent in watching the ‘K’ sops. Many offerings were made for the health of the poor dog. When the dog returned, by a very eager pet-shop owner, it made to the top-slot again with many more untugged heartstrings, tugged, tears of joy pouring by the buckets and many more pujaris happy to oblige the hordes, thanx to the brilliant coverage and investigative heights scaled only by the TOI. Three cheers to the only black Pomeranian that made it to the headlines of the TOI.
The piece-de-resistance was when SRK was the guest editor of the Mumbai edition for no rhyme or reason fathomed. No new movie was being released, so maybe he just wanted a feel of the neglected shoes of the editor. But that it made it to the headlines of the Ahmedabad edition along with a full page interview made very sad reading and all the more contradictory with two badly misrepresented elephants trampling lotuses in their five by two centimetres of reserved Sunday space, bearing the burden of a very heavy armour preaching ‘Let Truth Prevail’.