Window Seat | Mrinal Chatterjee

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Language Journalism

From 1818 to 2018, the language journalism in India has completed 200 years. From being the country cousin of English language journalism (which began in India in 1780), it has grown and by the millennium overtaken it in terms of size, reach, impact and financial health- except in some states in the North-east like Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland and Sikkim.

Consider the figures. Out of the top ten circulated newspapers in India, only two are in English language. There are more viewers for language news channels than the English. In entertainment sector, language channels rule the roost. In digital dunia too, language sites are gaining ground fast. They are getting more hits and retaining more visitors for more time than their English language counterparts.

So in a way, the prospect for language journalism is bright. As more and more people become literate, more people will engage with language media. More mass-engagement will translate into more impact. Regional media will gradually become socially and politically more powerful. This will eventually create more financial opportunities attracting larger and pan-national players. If that happens, then there will be a significant improvement in the financial health of language journalism. This might create a situation which will demand content quality advancement. This will create a demand for better and trained human resources, which will then create a demand for quality media education.

However, ironically, some of the prospects can also become challenges. As language media becomes socially and politically more powerful, larger players with deeper pockets and probably lighter conscience will enter into the media market to harness financial or other benefits. As language media becomes socially and politically more powerful, and acquire the potential to be financially beneficial, it will attract more players. This might improve the general quality or there can be a tendency to sensationalize/trivialize, especially in case of visual media. As language media becomes socially and politically more powerful, there will a growing tendency to control it.  With coalition politics showing no sign of abetting and regional political parties gaining (or attempting to gain) more ground language journalism will be cross promoted by political parties. As more money flows into language media world, the general financial health improves and average media house gains more. But, whether media-workers will gain out of it or not- will depend on their bargaining power and demand for the quality product by the consumers.

Indian Institute of Mass Communication (IIMC), a premier mass communication teaching, training and research organisation under Ministry of I & B organised a two days Seminar on Language Journalism on 29 and 30 October. Media academicians and practitioners from across the country discussed and deliberated on various aspects language journalism, especially the prospect and challenge areas. Most of the participants agreed on one point that the growth of language journalism goes well with the federal structure of the country. However, there is always the threat of ethnocentrism- about which we need to be vigilant.

Halloween

I had heard about Halloween, but had never seen or participated in one. I saw one on 31 October- in an apartment in Delhi. At the ground floor lift I saw a cute little girl dressed like a black cat. As I went to the apartment of the lady who had invited me for dinner- I found two mothers waiting for their kids to return. I asked, where had they gone? Halloween party, they replied.

Few minutes later two kids enter- one dressed like half cat and half witch; and the other a cute looking demon. They had a bag full of toffees and cookies and they were mighty happy about getting these, as their animated conversation showed.

I searched the net to know more about Halloween and found out that it evolved from the ancient Celtic holiday of Samhain. Over the centuries Halloween transitioned from a pagan agrarian ritual to Christian influenced ritual to a day of parties, costumes, jack-o-lanterns and trick-or-treating for kids and adults- across Europe. With time and as the British went to colonise other lands it travelled to North America and then to USA and elsewhere. In USA it became very popular and over time acquired a fun quotient.

It reached India with the British. However, it became popular only in recent years.

I liked the idea of kids dressing up in fancy and cute disguises and going from door to door demanding treats like cookies and toffees. I remember in our childhood on Bijaya Dashami day, we used to go neighbourhood houses and were treated with sweets and snacks. The different is we used to pay obeisance to the elders and used to hug our friends- now the kids threaten us with ‘trick or treat’ and force us to give them cookies- lovingly of course.

Tailpiece: English!

Two individuals proceeded towards the apex of a natural geologic protuberance, the purpose of their expedition being the procurement of a sample of fluid hydride of oxygen in a large vessel, the exact size of which was unspecified. One member of the team precipitously descended, sustaining severe damage to the upper cranial portion of his anatomical structure; subsequently the second member of the team performed a self-rotational translation oriented in the same direction taken by the first team member.

Shashi Tharoorised version of the nursery rhyme:

 

Jack and Jill went up the hill ……..

(Courtesy: Social Media)

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The author, a journalist turned media academician lives in Central Odisha town of Dhenkanal. He has co-edited an anthology of lectures and essays on ‘Mahatma Gandhi: A Jouirnalist and Editor’ with Snehasis Sur, which has recently been released at Delhi.

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