Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Arrgh... Indian Newspapers

Ask anybody who moved to the U.S. from India about what they miss the most about India. After the customary socially-correct responses of family, culture, yada yada, you will hear, nearly uniformly, that they miss the high-quality English-language newspapers in India. While the notion of a "favorite newspaper" will depend on where they come from (e.g., The Hindu is more popular in the South, the Times of India in the west, etc.), almost everyone will tell you how good their coverage of national and international topics are, how some of the sportswriters could create poetry out of a one-day cricket match, how well-thought-out and progressive editorials are, etc.

Indian newspapers, esp. my favorite "The Hindu" (which is totally non-religious, btw), could also be very frustrating. Here is an example. Somebody sued a State Government about an "entrace test", but I find it nearly impossible to figure out what the lawsuit claimed, what the legislation they're talking about is. What I see instead is a morass of legalese, with phrases like "make the writ petition infructuous" and "prayed for an interim injunction restraining the Government from issuing a notification"...

Speaking of esoteric legalese in Indian newspapers, here's a hilarious example of legal language about an overweight ex-actress... why can't they simply write "released on bail"? The story of why she was brought into "judicial custody" itself wasn't very amusing, though -- but you won't be able to figure it out by reading this article. There's just no habit of giving a bit of background to the news stories... I think it worked well in an era when readers were regular subscribers, and if they don't know what an article is talking about, they can reach for the previous day's newspaper. In the Internet era, where you stumble on an article through various means, it is truly frustrating. Evidently, they don't have the habit of placing good hyperlinks, either.


Suresh said...

hmm. I can't even agree with a tiny bit of it. In fact, once I had been in the US for a while, I'd go back to India and read ToI and wonder how they published such drivel all the time. The writing was pretty poor quality even then, and now of course a more appropriate sobriquet for the rag is 'Slimes of India', popularized by the numerous indibloggers.

I have no experience with the Hindu; by all accounts it still apears to be a good newspaper. But the quality of indian newspapers appears to have dropped a lot, and the fall of the ToI is even more dramatic considering that it used to be viewed as the NYT of India.

Anonymous said...

The Hindu paper is now revamped and the quality is very good.