Window Seat | Mrinal Chatterjee | 21.4.19

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Journalism at its Best

As we remember the tragedy of Jalianwala Bagh massacre on its 100 year, we must also remember Benjamin Guy Horniman (1873 – 1948), Editor of Daily Chronicle and Goverdhan Das, the reporter who broke the story despite stringent censorship.

Goverdhan Das, was tried and sentenced to three years’ imprisonment at the hands of the British authorities for “the offence of communicating to The Bombay Chronicle details of happenings in the Punjab under the Martial Law days.
Horniman published the story which created a furore. He followed it up even when he was deported in bad health. But he had more in mind. Smuggling photographs of the massacre and its aftermath, he broke a series of stories in several British newspapers including The Daily Herald, exposing the cruelties of the British administration in India. He also raised questions on the British government’s acceptance of  Colonel Dyer’s justifications for the massacre.

In 1920 Horniman published a book Amritsar and Our Duty of India, in which he spoke out against Colonel Dyer. He also wrote about how the British administration tried to supress the public agitation followed by the massacre by imposing martial law for six weeks in the region. There were more firings and killings and for several weeks there were public floggings by the British officials and sepoys.

When the Hunter committee absolved Colonel Dyer of his crime, an outraged Horniman wrote, “After the revelations of the Hunter Committee, Great Britain cannot, if she is to maintain her honour before the world, remain quiescent… she will have to see whether the intention to terrorise the people of the Punjab was deliberate and prearranged.”

“If the general character of our officials, civil and military, who are entrusted with dangerous powers in such countries as India, were such that outbreaks of terrorism of the kind we have seen in the Punjab are liable to occur at any time, we should be compelled to frankly abandon our claim to be a justice and humanity loving people. However ugly the facts, we must face them.”

During his tenure as editor, Horniman also served as Vice President of Home Rule League under Anie Besant. He also called for a satyagraha campaign against the draconian Rowlatt Act.

Living in exile from India for nearly 14 years, Horniman returned to start Bombay Sentinel, which he would edit for 12 years. He also founded India’s first tabloid publication Blitz with Russi Karanjia and Dinkar Nadkarni.

Horniman breathed his last in 1948.

His memoirs, unfinished at the time of his death, were entitled Fifty Years of Journalism.

Bhubaneswar

13 April was the birth day of the modern Bhubaneswar city. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru laid the foundation stone of the city on this day in 1948. German town- planning engineer Otto Kolenigs Berger had prepared the master plan of the city.
The city, however, has a history of over 3,000 years starting with the Mahamegha-bahana Chedi dynasty (around the 2nd century BCE) which had its capital at Sisupalgarh, on the outskirts of the present city.
Bhubaneswar, derived its name from Tribhubaneswar, which literally means the Lord (Iswar) of the three worlds (Tribhuban), which refers to Shiva.
The capital of Odisha (Orissa then) was shifted to Bhubaneswar in 1948 from Cuttack.
Although Bhubaneswar became the capital, the city did not grow fast till late eighties. But in the last two decades it has been growing at a breakneck speed.
I have studied and worked in Bhubaneswar. I have seen it as a small town with lots of greenery and a cool strong breeze in the evening. It is changing.
I somehow do not like Big Cities. Big Cities intimidate me. They seem to make me invisible.
I have planned to settle down in Bhubaneswar. I have bought a house at the outskirts the city, where I plan to shift in about 6 years.
Hope Bhubaneswar retains some of its rustic charm and does not grow too big and too intimidating.

News consumption in digital media platforms

Dr. Santosh Biswal teaches mass communication in Symbiosis University, Pune. He is conducting a research on the future of news consumption in digital media platforms. And what would be the business model? Can news sites survive? Can they earn some profit? Can content be monetised?

Here is my humble take:

In India, where half of the population is below 25, and smart phone use is on the upsurge, the future of news consumption lies in digital media platforms. It has four distinct advantages. First: speed: news can reach people almost in real time. Second: spread: News can be disseminated at global scale. Geographical distance will cease to be a problem for dissemination of news. Third: News will be platform and form-agonistic. It could be disseminated simultaneously in text, graphics, audio and video. Fourth: cost advantage: the carriage and distribution cost will be much less than other media.

Business in digital media platforms is growing- at a very fast rate. It will further speed up as more people take to these platforms. However, it will not edge out old media like newspaper, radio, etc. Media houses will synergize different media platforms.

Tailpiece: Vote Joke 1

Can somebody send me Hema Malini’s phone number please, I have to harvest my crop of wheet.

Tailpiece Vote Joke 2

From the day our leaders have started fooling us, the charm of April fool’s day is gone.

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The author, a journalist turned media academician lives in Central Odisha town of Dhenkanal. An anthology of his weekly column Window Seat, published in 2018 has been published as a book. Write to him to get a free e-copy.

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