Mumbai Samachar, India’s oldest newspaper at 200 years old, is doing well – thanks to loyal readers

(Eds: With pix) Mumbai, June 27 (PTI) In the heart of South Mumbai’s heritage precinct, a bright red building houses the modest offices of a sustainable institution soon to be 200 years old – the Gujarati daily ‘Mumbai Samachar ‘. As strong as ever despite setbacks in the print media industry in recent years, Mumbai Samachar will celebrate its 200th anniversary on July 1 after going through two pandemics, two world wars and growing a prosperous city in a myriad of avatars. , from a textile and commercial hub to a buzzing capital of the financial and film industry. Mumbai Samachar director Hormusji Cama said that 20 years ago the newspaper conducted research and found it to be the oldest publication in India and the fourth in the world. Bombay Samachar (as it was then called) began as a weekly in 1822 to primarily inform readers about the movements of ships and goods, and gradually grew into a true trade-oriented city newspaper that it is today. Fardunjee Marzban, a Parsi scholar, began publishing four years after the launch of the Bengali newspaper Samachar Darpan, to become the second non-English newspaper published in India. Then called Moombina Samachar, it was a weekly for the first 10 years, then a bi-weekly and has been a daily since 1855. The newspaper traded several hands before the Cama family took over in 1933. Cama Norton and Co .was a supplier of newsprint and ink to Mumbai Samachar, then owned by the Belgaumwala family. The Camas had appealed to the court against the non-payment of the arrears by Belgaumwalas and requested a liquidation procedure. Instead, the court asked Camas to take back the newspaper and save it, citing the employees’ livelihoods that would be lost if the newspaper closed. The Camas accepted. Since then, the publication has grown steadily and today it boasts of the most advanced technologies available in the field of publishing. Cama, its current director and avid vintage car collector, insists that putting the reader in the center is the key to the newspaper’s success. “As long as your content is requested, you will be there,” he told PTI. A variety of factors have led the newspaper to increase its cover price to Rs 10 per copy – Cama quips that it is not only the oldest newspaper but also one of the most expensive – amid the coronavirus pandemic . But it continues to be supported by a loyal readership despite a drop in circulation which was 1.5 lakh before the pandemic. Even with the decline in circulation, the newspaper is among the few to have made a profit in fiscal year 2020-21, said Cama, who is also a director of the board of directors of The Press Trust of India, a private non-profit newspaper. cooperative. (PTI is owned by several newspaper shareholders, who receive no dividends from the company’s profits, as their goal is to ensure the country has a thriving, independent and neutral news agency that can serve all media organizations ). To limit the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, Mumbai Samachar increased the cover price by Rs 2, reduced the number of pages and imposed cost control measures like lower salaries for senior managers and no fees for those who are at the top to make sure business thrives, Cama said. He added that no staff from the “family” of 150 people had been dismissed. “We don’t believe in firing people at all. We cannot ask the people who gave us the prime of life to go there because of things beyond their control, such as technological change. We train them, and they adapt, ”says the proud director. The Cama family believes in the total freedom of publishers. Cama refrains from commenting on editorial strategies and directing questions on these issues to editor Nilesh Dave. The newspaper has always been apolitical, believing in constructive criticism and focusing on positivity, Cama says. The newspaper has never been sensational in its coverage, Cama says, undermining the tendency among some journalists to “spruce up” stories to gain attention. When told that the bright red exteriors may lead someone to assume that this is the office of a burning newspaper, Cama points out that the building’s name is “Red House” and that it cannot be. coated in no other color. Sitting in the downstairs newsroom, Dave says he’s never received a single call from management with no requests. Despite the Gujarati readership, which tends to favor the current government, the newspaper’s editorials also criticize some government policies, he said. Her ability to continue to do so may lie in a decision the Cama family made a long time ago and diligently followed. The owners have no other business interests outside of the newspaper, which helps to ensure that the independence of the newspaper is never compromised. The strategy of making the reader pay for the content – Cama says the reader should not appreciate it less than a “cup chai” (Mumbai jargon for half a serving of tea mainly served in a special type of glass instead of a cup) – acts as a safety valve. Cama says Mumbai Samachar has never sold space to charlatans or those making questionable claims like curing COVID-19, while Dave says ad space remains at less than 20%. In recent years, with regional language publications under pressure, Mumbai Samachar has launched initiatives to increase its Gujarati readership and keep Gujarati theater booming, says Dave. He adds that such initiatives were a determining factor for a 35% growth in newspaper circulation in the days leading up to the pandemic. Other initiatives include holding book fairs in Gujarati, which have led to the sale of titles worth over Rs 4 crore so far, Dave said. The newspaper had planned a mega event to commemorate the 200th anniversary, but such a celebration was not possible amid the second wave of the pandemic, Dave said. Other initiatives, in particular the “unsung heroes” project will continue and to mark this special anniversary, Mumbai Samachar will congratulate health workers for their exceptional service during the pandemic. Asked about the big changes the newspaper described for its new century, Cama said, “We are not very ambitious and our set of values ​​have worked well for us so far. We will continue on the same path that made Mumbai Samachar what it is. »PTI AA VT 05/26/2021 05/26/2021

Warning :- This story has not been edited by Outlook staff and is auto-generated from news agency feeds. Source: PTI

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