Yup, we’re biased. So blame us for violently shaking our heads in agreement with Vice-President Hamid Ansari when he spoke on Wednesday about the “challenge of bringing back the decisive role of the editor” in newspapers. In these hoary times, when ‘journalists’ are tagged as ‘content providers’ and editors are seen as silly tips of icebergs that come in the way of titanic marketing forces plying the choppy seas of Indian media, Mr Ansari’s view is as wonderfully unfashionable as it is music to our ears. Yes, the editor is supreme.
Perhaps the word ‘supreme’ will make many suited gents in the media business squirm, as it will remind them why in the first place they rushed in to a space that angels feared to tread. But here Mr Ansari’s observations — “Quality of news coverage has suffered and commercial logic has come into play more prominently in the running of media organisations” — subtly tells us a story of the division between the editorial universe whose job it is to cook up a mean dish and the commercial one whose job is to see that the meals reach the tables of customers. When the waiter plays chef, you get a rubbery product. When the chef plays waiter, you have an empty restaurant.
So in this delicate tango, the editor is the guy with the rose between his teeth. Our marketing team told us to say that. Something about ‘branding’, the guys insist.