The ground below started shifting long back. An undeniable and uncomfortable sense of irrelevance and lack of purpose was afflicting the writing community for quite some time. The belated tsunami struck me with full vigour during the recent three-month sabbatical, forced by a fall that stalled me physically, but kickstarted my introspective instincts.
The reasons for the all pervasive disillusionment amidst those who fought the might of swords with words are many. Narrowing attention spans can be attested to by writers themselves who also happen to be readers. Anger and indignation that spur most writing got reduced to 140 characters from all kinds of characters and now to even crisper memes; indeed, anger is now humour. Thanks to gadgets and internet, there is a virtual verbal explosion that blurs and blacks out an article even before an interested reader sets his eager eyes on it. And finally, writers themselves must first be able to take time off FB and WhatsApp.
Many saw the writing on the wall, just quit and moved to other professions, often lucrative. After all, being a scribe over a period must surely have earned friends and favours, legit as they may be. Most still fight valiantly, write long articles and get read too. The support of the media entity they work for is critical here. Many have shifted to newer platforms and even combined words with visual for a double whammy, with both success stories and disasters. At least a quarter of the dozen boxes that we see on the TV news screen is occupied by my ilk.
I am not confining writing to just journalists but to all men and women of words for whom the printed (OK, include digital too) stuff is a sacred passion. And this fraternity of mine has every reason to be optimistic too despite the several dark clouds. The silver linings come from the happening reality: tech driven media is predatory and it first preys on its own predecessor. I am not saying this genre will become extinct but the suicidal or rather homicidal tendencies are apparent. Long form writing, which means anything above 140 letters, may not thrive, but will survive. Cheers!
We at Talk Media are fully cognizant of these changes and challenges. I, the Editor, is probably the last to jump into the bus which I might have missed. But to my credit, I had written in March itself in the article titled ‘A Talk aloud’ that from now on it will be a period to experience, experiment and explore. I talked about freedom and a carefree non-commitment, which means ‘I am not committed to even writing regularly’. I never imagined the Maker would take me so seriously and put me out of circulation. But I am happy in one way. He was reading!
In the past few months we have introduced several changes. But the Talk Team is not surely satisfied and is gearing to meet the aforementioned challenges as well as the future ones head on. A more radical shift beckons and we hope to make this hyper-local neighbourhood newspaper a real treat for the locality which in our view now includes the business community too. After all the most secular religion in India is now consumerism. In all, we will strive to give you what you want or rather, what you ‘like’, to put it in familiar jargon.
Now, where does that leave me, the self-styled angry idealist?
Assuming it matters! Well, I am happy to be on the bus, to begin with. My young colleagues have assured me space and seat provided I reinvent myself. Let me enjoy the ride, but be ready to cede it if an advertiser seeks it or animated locals are keen to shed their pearls of wisdom on some critical issue as Oviya. Same is the case for my ‘Cranky’ colleague. If I write I can try to buck my own tiring patterns. When tough, I can just duck. Presence or absence is a choice that now I am quite comfortable with. (I hope God is not reading this).
But when I do write, rest assured future PBs will not be this long. Brevity is the soul of not just wit but every bit of modern life.
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