The Times...it isn't a-changin'...

Like most things in life, The Times of India has been a habit. It is easy to break, but I never felt the need to give it the 'kick'. There was a time, not too long ago, when it made one sound above it all to state that you read the paper because of R.K. Laxman's cartoons. It was a bit like some insisting they read Playboy for the articles.

TOI has completed 175 years. It talks about being young at heart. It has provided me enough boo-boos to pick on; it has educated me about society divas I did not know existed; it has reduced the sanctity of the masthead and of its front page by selling it to advertisers. The only thing that can be said is that it is upfront about it.

Going through today's edition from the archives I found some gems I'd like to share with some observations:

This was the front page on what was undoubtedly the most significant event after Partition. TOI even then loved showing off about being on top of the heap - just above the masthead. However, instead of its now cautious "allegedly", it mentioned in clear words that the assassin was a Maratha from Poona. It also gave Jinnah's words importance. But I doubt if it would really bother today if Czechoslovakia (new name notwithstanding) expressed regret.

I know there are many naysayers, but had India and Pakistan not continued to be so obsessed with each other as problems, outside forces would have just had to lay off. I find Jinnah's statement pragmatic.

The Emergency has only been spoken of as "the dark chapter" in India's history, mainly because of its clampdown on newspapers. If we think about it without 'freedom of speech' in mind, then just how many literate Indians were there that constituted the reading public affected by it? And Indira Gandhi was right in at least one fact - that India is one of the most relaxed in terms of freedom of expression. Of course, I do not condone the Emergency, but from this quote we can see that 'objectivity' is still not evident in the newspapers and now the electronic media. Reportage continues to tilt and have agendas.

TOI has started one more of its weird 'innovative' ways to separate news from opinion. All op-ed pieces have started to use the first person in small letters. It is not 'I', but 'i'.

i'm not not sure whether it is to convey that the writing is more important than the writer. That won't happen. The mugshot, the byline and bottomline (where you find new professions and of course "bestselling authors") remove all doubt that self-effacement is not in sight. 

Yet, as i said, the TOI tries to amuse whenever it can. Aren't we amused?

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