Confessions Of An Editor

by Nirmaldasan (nirmaldasan@hotmail.com)

There is nothing noble about the founding principle of the Journalism Online site and its monthly newsletter. The site was launched in May 1999 at freetown.com and later shifted (because of a digital nighmare) to angelfire.com, where I had first gained an online identity with the nirmaldasan home page. In March 2000 the first issue of the Journalism Online newsletter was released with a subscriber base of five members (including two e-mail addresses of mine). Now, thanks to shameless self-promotion, there are more than 400 subscribers (all free, of course!). And those who are reading this may please jump on the bandwagon and help the newsletter grow.

But to return to the founding principle. The site was launched just to expand my online empire. Linkalism, a gift of the World Wide Web, helped me do this in style. I just searched the web and gave links to the best sites that focus on academic journalism. I also collected some articles and wrote a few too. But one fine morning the site disappeared. This was the digital nightmare. Fortunately I had a copy of the index page posted in geocities.com. But all the articles except mine were lost for ever in cyberspace. It took me quite some time to build it up again (this time at angelfire.com). Its url: http://www.angelfire.com/nd/nirmaldasan/journalismonline

The newsletter was started at onelist/egroups/yahoogroups. If things change in the real world in arithmetic progression, they change in the virtual world in geometric progression. Onelist merged with egroups and then yahoo took it over. At present (on the Net we can only be sure of the present) the newsletter can be accessed at http://yahoogroups.com/group/journalismonline . The reason why I started the newsletter and continue to bring it out month after month is simply because I wanted to be an editor and wish to remain so. Though the motive is selfish, there is no such thing as an absolute evil. The good part that cannot be taken away is those informative articles contributed by selfless persons such as Frederick Noronha, Ammu Joseph, K.S. Subramanian, Arul Aram, Subhash Rai and a host of others.

The editorials chiefly focus on academic journalism. I write them all as though writing editorials is the editor's prerogative. I have collected the editorials written in 2000 and have put them up on the site to nourish my ego. That the editorials would also help media students is incidental. Those who wish to read all my editorials may check out the back issues of the newsletter. I have also published reviews of my books in the newsletter. But these books are literary and therefore have no business whatever to be in the newsletter. But who can question the editor? The Creative Pulse section of the newsletter was started to promote literature. But what has literature to do with journalism? Except for language there is nothing common between the two. Yes, there is something called literary journalism which I have discussed in one of the editorials. But I am not sure whether that can be a good excuse for self-promotion.

Since the site and the newsletter are located in free servers, I do not have to bother about the most important thing in life -- money. I have not made any money from these digital ventures. However, an article titled Neighbourhood Journals posted at the site attracted notice and its author Mangalabhavani was offered $ 10 for reprint rights by the now defunct Globalinks. My articles, not surprisingly, have fetched no money. I have, however, benefited indirectly. The Asian College of Journalism and the Indian Institute of New Media gave me the chance to deliver a couple of lectures. And I am still a visiting lecturer at the Madras Christian College. So I do make a tidy sum in addition to the salary that The Hindu, South India's largest selling newspaper, gives me for the work that I do as senior sub-editor. I think that the digital experience has been really good despite the nightmare.

(Appeared in the November 12, 2002 update of the Indian Online Journalism site, www.cijindia.org )

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