Anil Thakraney: Goofy newspaper desk

06 Aug,2012

By Anil Thakraney


Mirror’s chief editor. Meenal Baghel, said something very interesting as part of the interview with her for MxMIndia. And it has set me thinking. She said deskies is a disappearing breed in the print media, and this is the reason our newspapers arrive with grammar goof-ups. And I have been searching for answers on why we no longer have high quality personnel manning the desk.


One explanation could be that people consider the desk job as a stop-gap arrangement, their ambitions lie elsewhere. And therefore attention to detail is missing. This could be because of the boom in the Indian media, which means a whole lot of opportunities/jobs have opened up. Therefore, the concept of commitment has taken a beating. Perhaps this is so. But then, there are many opportunities available for the deskies in the western world too, but newspapers from there seldom carry mistakes. So maybe there’s some other explanation.


Another theory suggests that the arrival of the SMS and the virtual media may have played a role in this. Just like everyone else, desk personnel are also busy murdering angrezi, and it’s possible this dirty habit has spilled into their work. But once again, the new media doesn’t seem to have damaged the skills of newspaper folks elsewhere in the world, so perhaps the answer lies elsewhere.


Here’s my own view: I think we are looking for scientific and logical explanations to justify what is actually plain and simple carelessness that has crept into the system. With too many distractions these days, I suspect youngsters at the desk aren’t paying adequate attention to subbing and proof-reading. Perhaps a little penalty is called for against each grammar mistake? Ten rupees per goof cut from the salary? Sounds too harsh? It is, but this may be the only way to get the deskies off Chatting/ FB/ Twitter/ Flirting/ Whatever, and back onto the goddamned page.


(Note to the editor: Please ensure there are NO typos in this article. Else, we’ll get lynched by the industry deskies!)


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P S: “She embodied every desirable quality I had ever wanted. In my mind, I was a peasant before a queen. And so, Susan Glenn and I were never a thing. If I could do it again, I’d do it differently.” Not only is this AXE commercial fantastic, the script has been written by a brilliant copywriter. Looks like fine writing has moved from press ads to television. No complaints, we need more of this.


Anil Thakraney is a senior journalist and commentator. He is also Editor-at-Large, MxMIndia. The views expressed here are his own.


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