My Second Innings Comes to an End.
My long, rather very long, second innings with The Pioneer comes to an end on May 31. My first innings coincided with the years Vinod Mehta was Editor of the paper. The second, and far more rewarding, innings has been with Chandan Mitra at the helm.
I opted for journalism as a career in the summer of 1982. In these 30 years, I have worked for various newspapers (including two of the oldest in India -- The Statesman, founded by Robert Knight in 1875 in Kolkata, and The Pioneer, founded by George Allen in 1865 and originally published from Allahabad), written for many others. I have been singularly fortunate to have worked with editors with extraordinary professional abilities and human qualities. I have the utmost respect and regard for MJ Akbar, Sunanda K Datta-Ray, Vinod Mehta and Chandan Mitra.
Among them, Chandan, whom I have known for longer than I can recall, shall always enjoy a special place in my heart. He has been a steadfast friend, caring and kind, generous to a fault.
I have always held Chandan in high esteem for his scrupulous adherence to the best traditions of journalism. I am not aware of a single instance of his spiking a story or dressing it up. The credit for the stunning expose on the Great 2G Spectrum Robbery goes as much to him as to my colleague J Gopikrishnan. That’s only one such story; examples abound.
On no occasion has he ever asked me to tweak comments that appear on the Editorial Page, which I looked after. On occasions when a particular comment was perceived to be harsh by individuals or organisations, he did not hesitate to defend the paper’s position. Other Editors are known to have disowned their edit writers at the slightest indication of trouble.
Above all, his long struggle to save The Pioneer from going the way of many newspapers that have ceased to exist due to lack of resources is truly admirable. Lesser mortals would have abandoned ship after the Thapar Group decided to shut down The Pioneer which had stacked up huge losses. He took it over, turned it around, and happily the paper chugs along, small but independent and proud.
To borrow an expression, Chandan is a prince among editors and owners of newspapers.
It could then be asked, why am I leaving The Pioneer? The answer to that question, if truth be told, is simple: To try my luck with new media, specifically digital media. I will share the details as the Mumbai-based project on which I will be working takes form and shape.
I have been associated, directly or indirectly, with print media for three decades. When I began my journey into journalism, it was the hot metal era. From there I have travelled all the way to an age when technology drives media. And technology fascinates me. Indeed, technology has seduced me away from print media.
Yet, it’s difficult to discard the past and disown newspapering which I loved so intensely. A part of me remains irrevocably tied to print media. A 30-year affair can’t just be snuffed out like a candle reduced to a stub. So I propose to continue to write for The Pioneer where Coffee Break shall remain.
I have no hesitation in acknowledging that I owe an immeasurable debt of gratitude to Chandan. As for The Pioneer, my affection for the paper is, and shall remain, limitless.
With Chandan’s blessings and support I embark upon a new path. Had it been otherwise, I wouldn’t have ventured forth.