English daily The Hindu has completed one hundred and thirty eight years of existence. “September 20, 2016 marks the completion of one hundred and thirty eight years of The Hindu’s eventful existence. We take note of this with a sense of responsibility, a touch of humility, and of course, a lot of pride,” wrote Mukund Padmanabhan, Editor of The Hindu.
Elaborating on the humble origins of the Chennai-based daily, Padmanabhan stated that it was started by a group of young people who hardly had any prior experience in newspaper publishing or worthwhile capital. Initially the newspaper printed 80 copies in a week.
“Six young men of Madras, with hardly any capital and no experience in newspaper publishing, launched the enterprise, unable to accept the opposition, among vested interests, to the move to appoint an Indian as a judge of the Madras High Court,” he mentioned.
Dr PN Vasanti, Director of Centre for Media Studies, has keenly watched the evolution of the newspaper. “It has not only shaped public opinion but also influenced culture and generations,” she said. Vasanti opined that The Hindu had helped readers in knowing what is important to think about.
“Unlike other newspapers that are mostly into politics, The Hindu has had a humane face to it,” she added. Describing the left-leaning reputation of the publication as merely an image, she stated that the newspaper had been far more balanced than its competitors. It is not aligned to any political party per se, she reasoned.
According to Vasanti, The Hindu had shown that a newspaper could survive in the digital age by standing true to journalistic principles and maintaining credibility. “One of the reasons The Hindu has been able to do that is because it is a family owned business,” she said. However, the academician noted that family disputes that have risen within the management have dented The Hindu’s standing a bit.
Shekhar Gupta, Founder of The Print, edited rival newspaper The Indian Express which competed with The Hindu. As per Gupta, The Hindu “set standards in reporting, reliability and opinion writing”. While The Hindu stood at a left liberal position, we were the liberal right, he claimed.
“We debated on many issues including the Indo-US nuclear deal,” he said. Commending the newspaper’s work, he applauded them for being the preferred choice of civil service aspirants. Gupta stated that despite arguments and differences when The Indian Express could not publish a story due to legal reasons, The Hindu came to its aide.
“You can say that we had a virtual conspiracy to bring out that news item,” he said. Despite readers migrating towards news websites, The Hindu managed to increase its circulation by 50,000 over a period of six months between July and December last year. Like other legacy media companies, the newspaper has also started focussing on data journalism and online videos.