The Undaunted Trailblazer

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He needs absolutely no introduction. As the Editor of The New Indian Express (Odisha Editions), Srimoy Kar is the doyen of print journalism in Odisha with over 33 years of rich experience. It is his passion, experience and skill set that have propelled him to great heights in his journalistic career. In this exclusive interview, Mr.Kar speaks about his long association with the national daily, the impact of social media on print and electronic media and his passion for photography.

By Subhojit Panda

Were you always interested in having a career in journalism?

Growing up, there were no such aspirations. I just strayed into it. Initially when I was struggling to find my foothold in journalism, the thought of giving up crossed my mind several times. But my parents always stood by me like a pillar encouraging me to stay focused in my endeavor. The journalist that I am today, is because of their blessings, support and unconditional love. Today after 33 years in journalism, I am glad I opted for a career in media.

You began working for the ‘Sambad Group’ before ‘The Indian Express’ happened to you.

That’s true. I joined the Group in 1984 as a trainee journalist and became a Reporter when The Sambad was launched. I truly have the best of memories working there. It was a learning experience and we were given enormous freedom to work and expand our horizon by Sri Soumya Ranjan Patnaik. I feel fortunate enough to have been associated with a Group that was not only way ahead of its times but also brought in revolutionary changes in Odia journalism. I was with the Sambad Group for over six years, before I joined The Indian Express in 1991.

27 years and still counting! You have had a long stint with The New Indian Express. What are your key takeaways?

It has indeed been a long association with The New Indian Express and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed every part of the experience working with the group! After joining the daily, my responsibilities increased and I insisted on having an edition here. The Indian Express was the first national daily to start an edition in Odisha in May 1997. Since then, I’ve discharged my editorial responsibilities to the best of my efforts. We have created a distinctive space for ourselves as a leading newspaper. We have always pushed the boundaries of journalism and given it a sacred space. Working for such a big group gives you a lot of scope to learn and mature. I’ve always been given the freedom to work as a journalist and an editor here which I think would not have been possible had I worked with any other group.

Do you think journalism has come of age over the years?

Yes, it has. It has gone through a huge transformation. The concept of journalism has changed though. Sadly, there has been a qualitative deterioration over the years. A lot of factors have contributed to this deterioration. The passion and dedication in the youngsters towards journalism is missing today. True journalism has certainly taken a backseat. The decline is a worrying trend..

In your words, what exactly are the true values of journalism?

It is not possible to sum up in a few sentences about the true values of journalism. But yes, the purpose of journalism is served when you work sensibly and learn to respect the freedom of others. It is important to stay honest to certain principles that journalism stands for. Rather than succumbing to the number race, maintaining credibility and quality is the key.

How difficult is it to insulate the print from commercial and political pressures?

Providing good content to readers while remaining conscious of several other factors is a huge challenge. It is important to strike a proper balance between the two. Keeping the editorial principles intact and at the same time managing other factors needs a smart balancing act. At The New Indian Express, we have always believed in putting journalism first and have tried to insulate it from all external factors.

How has the responsibility of an Editor changed over the years?

Ever since sustainability has emerged as a big challenge, the responsibility of an Editor has increased manifold. In the wake of declining readership, editors today have to maintain creditability and not succumb to market pressure. In addition to good content, advertising has emerged as a critical enabler to generate revenue. Editors these days cannot work in isolation and have to ensure team work. Since newspapers are getting direct competition from the web and electronic media, editors have to present news differently to bring the readers back to print.

Social media seems to be having a huge impact on both print and electronic media. Do you see this as a dangerous trend?

Yes! Social or digital media has emerged as the ‘in-thing’ today. People seem to be interested in reading random stuff posted on social media rather than those published in print. This is a worrisome fact. No matter what, print medium will always survive as a platform because people do not just read newspapers for news updates only. There are several other reasons like news analysis, features, improving general knowledge, advertisements etc.

How much of an impact does print have on our society?

It depends on how an issue is being projected and scaled up. One of the problems with today’s journalism is that while most of the social issues come to the fore, they are not followed up properly. If a social issue is constantly approached, analyzed, followed up and taken to a logical conclusion, then it can have a tremendous impact on society.

How do you like to spend your leisure time?

There was a time when I was very passionate about photography but I had to give up because of my professional commitments. However, I would still love to go around with my camera and capture moments. I usually unwind by playing golf, reading books and watching movies.

What message would you like to convey to the youngsters interested in taking up journalism as a career?

Read newspapers and keep yourself abreast with the developments around you if you aspire to become a good journalist. Be sincere, honest and true to your profession. Develop a researchbased mindset before handling any content. Mr.Kar ended the interesting interview by wishing ‘Coffee Bytes’ all the best in its endeavours.

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