First, it was the Times of India, a decade back. It tried to break all the rules so that it can rule the roost. And, it worked. Via Delhi Times, it re-wrote the whole ethics of reporting and journalism. The new India lapped it up. From MTV to FTV, India has undergone a transformation, the magnitude of which is difficult to reckon or document. But all attempts to metamorphosis has a limit, for you can forever change into a new entity. And there comes the need for restraint. The Times of India discovered it lately. It crawled back into being a classic newspaper. Perhaps it makes commercial sense too, for, there is a huge audience which waits evey morning for a newspaper, not a magazine.
Now it seems TOI has put a mole in the HT stable. Somebody is trying his level best to destroy the old HT ethos and make it look like the blued-jackal of our old parable. Now HT uses banner headlines and half-page photographs, not of much import. It is hell bent to destroy its front page. Its anaemic body seems to fall off some day. God save the HT!
It's difficult to understand whether the newspapers are meant for readers or picture browsers. Technology has facilitated the use of visuals but they need not ease out the words. Unfortunately newspaper pages are being designed as posters. And we get big stories and special reports spanning a full page. Huge cartoons, giant graphics, bloated photographs adorn the centestage. Words are squeezed out to the periphery. The reader, always short of time, is intimidated. He simply turns over the page.
That somebody has produced a film in black and white, today, is really a heroic venture. So, who'd fight against the tyranny of the visuals in the newspapers? Can we expect a special supplement in every paper which respects the intelligence of the reader and offers him food for thought?