Saturday, December 29, 2007

A quick poll on reading, aw shucks, the absence of reading in trains

I like to do quick polls when I am travelling. On the way back from work today I did a quick poll of what people did on the train back from work. I may be wrong but earlier a lot of people read something – the morning or evening newspaper – or if I am not too presumptuous a novel, perhaps. But habits have changed and I no longer see people reading anymore. They are either listening to music on their mobile phones or ipods, or playing silly snake games on them. Or, best of all they are dozing or just looking out through the window with a dazed expression, somewhat like they were just seeing their life flashing by.

Valiantly arranging the supplements and reading a newspaper - 2 persons
Listening to music on mobile phone - 6 persons
Playing games on the mobile phone - 4 persons
Dozing or looking out dazed - The rest of the train

Honest, people, why don’t you read something, at least, the newspaper? Why are there only two people reading a newspaper instead of a majority as I used to see in earlier days (Ah! those halcyon days when I watched with joy a newspaper or novel being devoured by hungry eyes)?

Or don’t they trust the newspaper anymore, which is bad news for the publishers. And before newspapers go on the defensive and try to prove to me facts about their readership and reach, let me say this: the modern all-glamour, all colour newspaper alienates rather than edifies. Before I get hauled by my newspaper friend here are a few examples:

1. Awards instituted by newspapers are only carried by them and not any other newspapers

2. If a newspaper sponsors a function, only they would give it coverage

3. Newspapers have started featuring paid editorial matter, also called “advertorials” which degrade their credibility

4. Newspapers have become like a business, and are run like a business to make profits. Then why don’t they buy their newsprint in the open market at market rates, not the subsidized rates offered by the government.

5. If newspapers are businesses first and not a social service for information dissemination why do they depend on government subsidies on newsprint and for postage (a newspaper can be posted for a subsidized postage of just 25 paise)?

6. I guess people are interested in reading news about common problems of common people. And too much news about this or that starlet, or who they are sleeping with, with colour pictures of them, puts the public off. They get nauseated by too much cleavage, thighs and heavy make up. Give them some hard news they will lap it up.

Newspaper barons, am I making sense, or what? Or am I too dumb to take on the bureaucracies that you have become? Sorry so-and-so, my friend, I couldn’t resist the temptation of saying all this here on my dear blog. I have been an admirer of your newspaper, but of late it sucks. I just glance at it before throwing it away, or selling it to the kabadiwala.


Medhini said...

Well I dont know much about the newspaper business but I really feel the need for people to read during journey. Newspapers. Novels. Anything.
I remember an incident years ago when an artist sitting next to me was busily immersed sketching the activities in the railway station.

John said...

Hi Medhini,

yes I feel the need to read on trains. It's a pity nobody reads on trains anymore in India.