DNA, the newspaper, has been in the news recently for two unrelated, but both significantly debatable, reasons.
The first was their decision to do away with the edit page.
In a signed communication to readers, Aditya Sinha, Editor-in-Chief of DNA, said, “The newspaper edit page has long outlived its usefulness. It's boring, very few read it, and it's a chore to fill. It's more punditry than expert comment. It's become a single-page editorial ghetto; and that makes little sense in this TV/mobile/web age where you're looking for more news validation and analysis,
"This does not mean DNA will shun analysis: after all, it's part of our title. Instead, DNA will give more comment, spread across the paper. For instance, yesterday we have articles by experts on Mumbai, on corruption and on the China-US presidential meeting. Each will appear on a different news page. Otherwise, they'd appear on three consecutive edit pages. DNA will give more comment in the days to come; readers have already seen it in the Money section, and readers will even see it on the Sport pages. And it will all be interesting,” he added.
The decision foxed me; the greater the competition, the greater the role of the edit page, I thought.
When ‘news’ in a newspaper is already dated by the time a newspaper reaches consumers, it is the analysis of the news and the opinions of thought-leaders that keeps the newspaper alive, I thought.
And editors of newspapers are thought leaders trusted by the readers, I thought.
And the edit page is the one page that the reader gets the view of those he trusts, I thought.
The edit in his paper is the edit most trusted – it is the opinion that he adopts as his own, I thought.
DNA obviously thinks differently.
Not quite, though. Since this momentous decision – taken without consulting the most important stakeholder – the reader – DNA has chosen to carry edits on the front page – defeating their own argument.
Admittedly, the attention that an edit gets is maximum during times of trouble or tumultuous change – but that does not mean that the edit has no role to play otherwise.
It’s like two friends, one better informed than the other. The better informed is the advisor that the less informed turns to, to understand everything from why onion prices went up when they did, to understand whether or not Manmohan Singh should appear before a JPC, on whether Lalit Modi is a crook, or whether Adarsh should be demolished.
Imagine if the better informed, one fine morning, decided that he will no longer be available to the less informed. Or, bizarrely, decided that he will proffer his advice as and when he felt like.
Fundamentally, this is what DNA has decided to do. The paper has decided that it will be available to the reader as and when it feels like – and that’s bizarre.
And on another front. DNA says, on the front page, next to the masthead, that the paper is free of any paid news. That’s fantastic. Can any other paper do the same?
Or, as a provocation, should one ever, ever have to say something like this….