About my visitors, newspaper readers

"Newsroom is a place where egos can go out of control over a discord arising from a semicolon's placement. Most of the time, tempers run faster than our power connection meters"

When I am at work, some visitors come to me after a scheduled appointment – an appointment set a week ago, three days ago and maybe three hours ago.

Some friends and acquaintances will always drop in without bothering to give a call to me before parking their car in front of the Minute Mirror office. Then I have colleagues at the office who can just walk in and discuss something important or the most pressing matter. Then there are days which consume my time firefighting between two colleagues.

Newsroom is a place where egos can go out of control over a discord arising from a semicolon’s placement. Most of the time, tempers run faster than our power connection meters. There are moments when, with a heavy heart, I have to tell a visitor that we may meet again for chat and discussion as now, I need to attend to pages. There are difficult moments at work when I have to say ‘goodbye’ to an old colleague when they breach the principles of respect for other colleagues.

Life always remains unpredictable in the world of journalism. Sometimes, we are struggling for a quality news item worthy of the front page lead story, and sometimes we wake up with our mobile phone full of sensational, time-changing stories which require constant updates till the time of our going into the press. And sometimes, a development at 11:57pm forces us to reshape our front page and make it a new page altogether, with new stories, new pictures and new headlines. When the front page is remade, its trickledown effects go to the back page and inside pages.

A newspaper produced with the collective efforts of several people in late-night hours receives varied feedback from subscribers and readers. A majority of the newspaper subscribers seem hostile to reading the newspaper thoroughly. Look, what they say or write to me about the newspaper.

Him: Oh, the front-page layout would have looked better if you had placed a bigger picture of Imran Khan in the upper half of the page.

Me: Hmm, you’re right.

Her: Your newspaper does not print the Amber Heard case on the front page?

Me: Who’s Amber Heard?

You: Sir, why don’t you cut down the newspaper’s price to just Rs10, and see it selling like  hot cakes.

Me: Sir, newspaper production is a loss-making enterprise. Thank you for your advice.

Though I constantly receive feedback from my friends and general readers on the byline stories of our reporters, crispy, catchy headlines and eye-pleasing layout of the newspaper, the fact is that our world is full of anti-reading people. A majority of the readers read newspapers without compulsive or obsessive touch of being a reader.

There are hardly any pollsters left in our part of the world who categorize the newspaper readers. I know many readers who pick a newspaper only to find a matrimonial ad in the classified section of papers. They also call themselves newspaper readers. That is not the end of the world. There are plenty of people who neither buy a newspaper nor a book and they are proud of it. They simply cannot understand reading and cannot stand a five-minute talk on the editorials of newspapers.

When they comment on current affairs, and most of the time they are caught talking on current affairs, their first and last reference to prove their argument is based on Mr or Ms X, Y, Z anchor of that TV channel. No doubt that TV is one of the most effective channels of mass communication, but that does not mean the people with poor reading comprehension should contemptuously call newspapers a dead sector or something like this.

Sadly, the number of such anti-reading people seems to be on the rise. Undoubtedly, it is a very sad, and cruel reality.


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