Thursday, August 07, 2008

End of an era?

I have been a daily reader of the Times of India for over a decade and a half. When I started off, I was in Delhi and the choice used to be only between TOI and Hindustan Times and somehow TOI won. Since then it has become a part of my life. As I moved to Kanpur, Pune and Bangalore, TOI just stayed with me.

A lot of people would argue that TOI is one of the worst newspapers around. For years I defended TOI. My line of thought was that on weekdays I only need "news" which TOI provided reasonably well, but on weekends when I wanted "news + views", TOI had a great collection of columnists to keep me engaged. I spent much of my college days growing up on columns of Swaminathana Aiyyar (Swaminomics), Jug Suraiya (Jugular Vein), Gurcharan Das, Shobha De, Sunil Gavaskar and more recently Shashi Tharoor. For me, letting them go was unthinkable.

Now, I might be changing my mind after all, and ironically on a day when TOI proclaims to have reached 4 Lakh users in Bangalore. The primary reason is that the quality of English has become outright absurd. Basic spelling mistakes, grammatical errors, omissions and commissions have become inescapable. They have been increasing over time and I have possibly hit my threshold of tolerating poor English. I am no British, but basic language correctness in a newspaper is an essential.

So, what happens to all those columns? Well, I will probably try finding them online and read them. Swaminomics is already available online. And maybe over time, I would move on to reading columnists in other newspapers or other sites. But for now, I have decided to switch loyalties.

ps: My father believes that their quality has gone downhill since they digressed into all sorts of businesses. I don't agree. I just think they are hiring poorer graduates. Either way, if somebody knows the reason, drop a comment.

pps: If anybody from TOI group is reading, please get back some sanity in your newspaper. There are still a lot of followers, who will soon be lost if you keep going downhill.

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