Many Indian newspapers now invite a “Guest Editor” to create some buzz.
Usually the guest is a boldfaced name: a cricketer (Yuvraj Singh), a godman (Sri Sri Ravi Shankar), a businessman (N.R. Narayana Murthy), a news maker (Amartya Sen) or a celebrity.
Take a bow, Praja Vani.
On the birth anniversary of the father of the Indian Constitution, DrB.R. Ambedkar, the Kannada newspaper from the Bangalore-basedDeccan Herald group has brought out a special issue, guest-edited by the Dalit writer and social activist, Devanur Mahadeva.
Eight broadsheet pages of the 16-page main edition—plus seven out of eight pages in two four-page broadsheet supplements—have pieces commissioned by the guest editor.
In all, there are 37 pieces of text, led by an introduction from the paper’s editor, K.N. Shanth Kumar.
Each of the pages carrying the pieces has a common panel that reads “Swatantra, Samanathe, Sodarathe” (freedom, equality, fraternity) and each article carrying the piece has an icon of Ambedkar.
Among the articles, a business page report on India’s first Dalit bank; a metro section story on why Bollywood ignores Ambedkar; and an edit page piece on the need for social police.
Robin Jeffrey, whose lament on the lack of diversity in Indian (read English) newsrooms, prompted the experiment would be pleasantly surprised at the spunk of a leading regional-language newspaper.
Image: courtesy Praja Vani & Churumuri