Don’t be complacent: N Ram’s goodbye letter

19 Jan,2012

By Tuhina Anand


On his last day as the Editor-in-Chief and Publisher of The Hindu, Business Line, Frontline, and Sportstar, N Ram bid his colleagues farewell and exhorted them to seize the opportunities of the media world and face the challenges of the tough business environment the media faces today.


Mr Ram’s mail states that Siddharth Varadarajan, D Sampathkumar, R Vijayasankar, and Nirmal Shekhar, all Editors, will take over, with effect from January 19, 2012, as Editors of The Hindu, Business Line, Frontline, and Sportstar respectively responsible for the selection of news under the Press and Registration of Books (PRB) Act of 1867.


K. Balaji, Managing Director of Kasturi & Sons Ltd, takes over as Publisher of all Hindu Group publications and also as Printer as applicable. Ram informs that he will continue to be a wholetime Director of Kasturi & Sons Ltd.


He states in the letter- “These changes on the editorial side are significant, indeed milestones in our progress as a newspaper-publishing company. On the one hand, they represent a conscious and well-prepared induction of fresh and younger blood at the top levels of our editorial operations, not of course as one-person shows but as captains of teams of talented professionals who work on the basis of collegiality, mutual respect, trust, professional discipline, and cooperation. On the other hand, these editorial changes are a vital part of the process of professionalization and contemporization under way in all the Company’s operations. I am clear that this is the only way to face the future – the opportunities as well as the challenges.”


In the letter he also mentions, “About us it will certainly be no cliché to say: individuals come and go, the institution goes on.”


He talks about the current situation of print press and broadcast television being in crisis across the developed world. He mentions Indian media being fortunate, “The chief differentiating characteristic of this media world is that printed newspapers (and also broadcast television) are in growth mode, some of us in buoyant growth mode. How long this duality will endure is a matter of conjecture. But there are exciting opportunities out there in our media world and they must be seized strategically and with deft footwork. Digital journalism – good journalism on the existing and emerging digital platforms – is an exciting domain where a combination of quality, reliability, interactivity, creative ways to engage the reader, and growth with commercial viability will be key. There are, equally, tough challenges – especially a hardening business environment and rising commercial pressure on editorial values and on the independence and integrity of editorial content, seen, for example, in the recently exposed notorious practices of paid news and private treaties. The negative tendencies that have surfaced in the Indian news media have been sharply criticized by the Press Council of India Chairman, Justice Markandey Katju; and Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen has reflected on the problem in a rather different way. The last thing we need is complacency.”


“In my understanding, the two central functions of a trustworthy and relevant press (and news media) are (a) the credible-informational and (b) the critical-investigative-adversarial. A third is the pastime function, which is important, especially for engaging the reader in a wholesome way; but it must be constantly kept in perspective and proportion and must not, in my view, be allowed to outweigh, not to mention squash, the two central functions.”


He concludes by thanking people he has interacted during his tenure and assures that after completion of the process of editorial succession, The Hindu publications will be in able and trustworthy hands and their values as strong as ever.


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