02 March, 2021

Postcards From The Newsroom

Living in the global village also means living with the global village idiots. We shouldn't romanticise Old Media: but democracies need news organisations.

Postcards From The Newsroom

I got my first mobile phone the year after Outlook began—1996. Till then, my idea of a phone was something that hung on a wall or sat on a desk. In India, you could still find big black monsters with long brown cords and dials that revolved like arthritic roulette wheels. India had about 10 million telephones in 1995, all of them connected by valuable and vulnerable copper wire. Manorama Yearbook 1995 rep­orted that “urban subscribers…will get telephone connections on demand by 1997”. It had to be true: the Department of Telecommunications had promised it in February 1994. Satellite television had come, but it had “given birth to a new kind of letter writer”. Television programmes that offered prizes to viewers who “wrote in” generated “a record number of postcards”. And since a postcard was still 15 paise (as it had been since 1975), India Posts and Telegraphs (IP&T) lost money. Information moved sed­ately and mostly one-way.

This was an Old Media (OM) world. To connect with your...

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