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Title: Behind the News: Voices from Goa's Press
Author: Various
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Copyright (C) 2003 by the individual authors



Behind The News: Voices From Goa's Press


Copyleft, 2003. May be copied provided entire text is
kept intact, and credit is given to all who have
contributed to this work. While every attempt has been
made to maintain accuracy, we would appreciate
inaccuracies being pointed out. Feedback may be sent to
goajourno@indialists.org

This book was collaboratively written between August
2003 and October 2003, through Goajourno, a cyber
network of journalists and former journalists who have
worked in Goa.

Copyleft 2003. Writers of the respective individual
chapters retain their right to be identified as the
authors of their work.

This is work-in-progress. and currently is in draft
stage. Version 0.10 (draft release).

First e-version: October 10, 2003 (draft)



This e-book was created using Lyx, a free software
product that was created by volunteers and which is
freely sharable. We say a thank you to those whose work
on this and other Free Software makes our work feasible
and more practicable today.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Sixties' stories: Free Goa's first elections
Chapter 2 Goan journalism: Views from near and far
Chapter 3 West Coast Times : A dream ruined
Chapter 4 Novem Goem: The Roof Caves In
Chapter 5 The Herald of A New Ethos
Chapter 6 oHERALDo: an untold chapter
Chapter 7 The banyan tree: working under Rajan
Chapter 8 Rural Goa, unheard, unsung...
Chapter 9 A year apart... journalism and leaving home
Chapter 10 Growing up with the Herald...
Chapter 11 In black & white... newsdesk nuggets
Chapter 12 The proof of it all...
Chapter 13 Birth pangs at Sant Inez
Chapter 14 An era of free sheeters
Chapter 15 Journalism in Goa: An outsider looks in
Chapter 16 An accidental Bhailo
Chapter 17 Why Konkani failed its readers...
Chapter 18 Romi Konkani, hanging on a cliff
Chapter 19 Comrades in crime: Police reporting
Chapter 20 Of sports... and sports journalism
Chapter 21 From journalist... to publisher



Introduction

If you believe in miracles, here is a small one. An
e-book, written collaboratively by over a
dozen-and-half journalists, many with amazing stories
to tell. Their willingness to do so, says something.

For one, it indicates a generosity to convert memories
into history, which would otherwise have been consigned
to the dustbin of amnesia. This is particularly true,
as the media seldom writes critically about themselves
in Goa. More importantly, it also suggests that there
are many in Goa who have a story, and are willing to
narrate it. If only they're given a chance. As
mediapersons, we need to ask ourselves why these
stories are not allowed (or encouraged) to surface in
the first place. It's impossible to believe that there
is such a drought of ideas and issues in Goa, and the
general lack of debate in the media would make it seem.

October 10, 2003 marks the 20th anniversary of the
Herald's English-language edition. Many of us
journalists who contributed here are no longer, or
perhaps never were, associated with that daily
newspaper. But, the launch of this product undeniably
opened up avenues for a generation of journalists in
the state. In addition, it rewrote the rules of
journalism for all of us here, for better or worse.
Hence the choice of this date for the first release of
this book.

What is being said along these e-pages refers to
critical times in the history of post-1961 Goa.
Needless to say, views voiced here stem from personal
experiences, oftentimes are subjective, and likely to
generate even more debate. But personal viewpoints are
also important, in that these help to complete our
understanding of particular events, episodes, and
individuals. It is no coincidence perhaps that this
series of essays is critical of some held up as icons
of Goa's journalism over the past four decades. You
might feel the criticism is unfair; but other versions
do need to be heard.

This is, of course, not the last word on the subject.
Nor does it claim to be a comprehensive account -- what
got included depended on who was willing to write their
'story' when the call for chapters went out.

This unusual work is humbly devoted to those who are
not, or cannot, be with us, as we go down the corridors
of time and look at the past decades. Journalists whom
Goa has produced, but perhaps were never adequately
recognised over the years. Like the innovative Ivan
Fera, who died young along with the promise of immense
talent and many bylines in journals like The
Illustrated Weekly. Or, Norman Dantas, who's early
death was at least in part triggered off by despair
brought on by the unfair deal he got from journalism in
Goa. We need to also remember the many who are not here
with us, pushed out -- both by limited opportunities,
as also politics in the press -- to migrate far and
wide and earn a living on distant shores. To all of
them, and the unsung heroes of journalism of the
post-Liberation era, this e-book is devoted.


Chapter 1:
Sixties' stories: Free Goa's first elections

By Ben AntaoBesides his stint referred to in this chapter, Benedito
Martinho Herculano Antao (b, 1935) worked for the
Indian Express in Bombay (1965-66). He then won a
journalism award from the World Press Institute, moved
to the US for a year's study, work and travel. Later,
he spent 10 weeks at the Denver Post (1967), worked for
a Catholic weekly in Toronto, and was a copy editor in
the mid-seventies at a major Toronto daily. He also
taught high school English, drama and religion for 22
years, before retiring in 1998, and qualified as a
certified financial planner in 1988. Currently, he is
involved in fiction writing, for which purpose he sees
journalism as a "great training ground".

There is a truism in journalism that goes like this:
facts are sacred; comment is free.

When I first read it in one of the books on journalism
that I borrowed from the USIS library in Bombay in the
late 'fifties, I was filled with such fervor as to
consider the vocation in journalism that I was
contemplating on, at the time, akin to the priesthood.
The concept of 'freedom of the press' particularly
attracted and engaged my young mind, burning with
idealism to bring about genuine equality in Indian
society and to see us as a truly "honorable people" as
the Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru had said we were.

In other words, journalism would offer me a platform to
make a difference.

After a season of doing freelance sports reporting for
The Indian Express in the city now called Mumbai, I
felt much like a lover. One who is not content with
merely kissing but wants to explore the whole body. And
as a follower of another truism, namely, he who seeks
finds the way, lucky circumstance fell into my lap and
I found myself doing freelance work for the Goan Tribune,
a fortnightly published in Bombay to espouse the
cause of Goa's political freedom from the Portuguese rule.

Here I got the opportunity not only to write about
sports, but also to do general news reporting and
profiles of prominent Goans. In little over a year,
though, my budding love affair discovered a flaw in my
inamorata -- the lady fancied the use of hyperbole and
propaganda as legitimate means to promote herself. My
idealism received a jolt of reality when Lambert Mascarenhas,
editor of the periodical then, engaged in
propagandist campaigning, suggesting that such slanted
writing was necessary to achieve the end. However, my
burning desire to express myself in writing overruled
my squeamishness.

After the Liberation of Goa in 1961, Lambert went to
Goa and became joint editor of a new English-language
daily, The Navhind Times, owned and published by the
Dempo Brothers, who had become wealthy in the mining
business. My fascination for the mistress of journalism
remained still intact, not to mention the hidden agenda
of my wanting to change the world.

So I went to Goa and joined the paper in June 1963.

Considering myself as a protege of Lambert, I enjoyed a
special status at the paper, doing both reporting and
sub-editing. It didn't take me long, though, to notice
that Vassantrao Dempo, the elder brother, was keenly
interested in the image of his newspaper and its
editorials. He had hired two editors, a Catholic and a
Hindu named T. V. Parvate from Maharashtra, ostensibly
to give balance to the paper's news and views. Often at
around 5:30 p.m., I would see Mr. Dempo carefully
perusing the editorial that Lambert or Parvate had
written before it came to the newsroom. The editors
wrote on alternate days. I would know, for example,
that Dempo had suggested a change in how a certain
point of view was expressed in Lambert's editorial
because Lambert often invited me to sit across his desk
while he wrote an editorial that was based on my news
report. Mr. Parvate, a fast and fluent writer, only
occasionally asked me into his partitioned office to
verify a fact or a figure.

Naturally, my curiosity propelled me to ask Lambert why
it was necessary for him or Parvate to have their
editorials okayed by the ultimate boss. After all, both
of them were professionals who knew and understood the
law of libel and defamation. Lambert, flashing his
customary smile by way of indulging me, a novice in the
game of politics, said it was a condition of his
contract. Besides, what was the big deal? An editor
could just as well express his own viewpoint as that of
the owner. It wasn't a loss of freedom. We live and let live.

 Reporters too

I thought about it and gradually came to the conclusion
that reporters also indulged in self-censorship. Facts
may appear to be sacred, but as a reporter I choose
them to slant a 'story' in a particular way. Moreover,
space in a newspaper is always limited, forcing me to
write to a certain word count, in effect compelling me
to sacrifice many 'facts'.

The above was true not only in Goa and Bombay where I
worked as a general reporter for The Indian Express
(1965-66) but also in Toronto where I worked as a copy
editor on the foreign desk of The Globe and Mail in
1975-76. The foreign editor would throw at me reams of
teletype copy from Reuters, Associated Press,
Agence-France Presse, and The New York Times News Service
 on a current story, such as race riots in
Johannesburg, or post-revolution democracy woes in Portugal
 or the Patty Hurst kidnapping by the Symbionese
Liberation Army in San Francisco, and ask me for a
10-inch column story. This required that I cut out a
lot of 'facts' from the 2000 words of wire copy and
shape a news story in about 500 words.

Going back to Goa, I remember the one-sided coverage
that Navhind Times carried during the month-long
campaign for the historic, first general elections held
on December 9, 1963. And I was part of it.

Now Vaikuntrao Dempo, younger brother of Vassantrao,
was a Congress candidate in the Pernem constituency.
The Dempo Brothers had made a substantial cash
contribution to the national Congress Party, in effect
buying a ticket for Vaikuntrao in the Goa elections.
The local Goa Pradesh Congress Committee, headed by
Purushottam Kakodkar, a freedom fighter and an apostle
of Mahatma Gandhi, was deluged with names of suitable
candidates. It was hard pressed to make a judicious
choice, a key problem being the candidate's vision of
the future of Goa.

At this time, after the 30-member Goa Legislative
Consultative Council, headed by Maj.-Gen. Candeth, the
mustachioed military governor, was dissolved and a writ
for the first democratic elections was issued, two new
political parties came into being and declared their
election platforms. One was the United Goans, led by
Dr. Jack de Sequeira, which stood for a separate state
for Goa. The other was the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party,
with Dayanand Bandodkar at its helm, which stood for
Goa's merger with Maharashtra. The Congress, waffling
in between, promised that Goans would be consulted
about its future in the Indian union.

The elder Dempo let it be known that his paper would
support the Congress in the elections and, therefore,
all news coverage must be oriented towards Congress
candidates. And as the chief reporter at the paper, it
fell to my lot to deliver the news with this bias. On
the campaign trail, I traveled the length and breadth
of Goa, speaking to Congress candidates and often
manufacturing 'news' that purported to show that
people, by and large, were in favor of Congress
candidates. Lambert and I even drove to Pernem one day
to see how Vaikuntrao's campaign was coming along.

However, my one dependable contact was none other than
the 50-year-old Purushottam Kakodkar. His office in
Panjim was open to me at any hour of the day. Knowing
that our paper was solidly behind him, he was generous
with his time and forthcoming, giving me full access to
campaign reports sent to head office from the various
constituencies. During the campaign, Lal Bahadur Shastri,
the Indian Home Minister, visited Goa to lend his
support to the Congress candidates. Kakodkar arranged
for me an exclusive interview with the minister. In the
interview, Shastri affirmed that a separate status for
Goa was on the cards. A day after my story appeared on
the front page, Kakodkar told me that Shastri was
pleased with my report and had asked him to extend his
congratulations to me. I was more than touched by this
solicitude. I was feeling giddy, riding on the carousel
of a mutual admiration society.

My friend Ben Saldanha of PTI in Panjim filed a report
based on my interview; so did Joshi of The Times of India
 bureau. As a representative of a news agency, Saldanha,
of course, had to be objective and he was. As a
matter of fact, he would often feed me stories about
the other two parties, based on the 'inside'
information he had received. He himself couldn't use
that information for his news agency, but I could. And
whenever I mentioned this 'fact' to my editors, I was
told to just let it pass.

Now, as the campaign was getting into high gear,
another friend L. S. Bhandare, an architect by
profession, who represented UNI (United News of India)
told me that the United Goans' campaign (workers
dashing about in open trucks with loud music and
handing out campaign literature) reminded him of
elections in London, England. He too drew my attention
to how successfully the UG party was appealing to the voters.

 Convinced

But having persuaded myself willfully with
auto-suggestion, and having been on a one-track
crusade, I remained convinced that Congress would win
the day. On the eve of the election, a day of pause in
electioneering, I wrote an upbeat story (about three
takes) and handed it to Mr. Salkhade, the news editor
from Maharashtra. He scanned the intro and set it in
the tray of stories for the front page. Then he looked
up and said to me, "You know, Kakodkar is going to be
the chief minister of Goa."

It was about 4 p.m. Something in the tone of his voice
gave me pause. Then a wild notion entered my head, a
spur-of-the-moment impulse, with no rhyme or reason, a
mad folly that sometimes seizes lovers at play. I
phoned Kakodkar.

"Hello, Purushottam." Although only 28, I was now on
first-name basis with him.

"Hello Ben."

"It's a day of rest for you today. Is everything okay?"

"Fine."

"I've just finished writing my lead story for the paper
tomorrow. Looks like Congress will win with an
overwhelming majority. You must be pleased with the
campaign. What do you think?"

"We have to wait and see," he said in a voice devoid of
any emotion, but not exhausted. In this respect,
Kakodkar came across as cool and circumspect, a man in
full control of his emotions.

Mr. Salkhade was busy editing copy at the other end of
the newsroom, beyond earshot. That wild notion came
rushing again, prompting me to make the pitch, even if
it was only hypothetical.

"Purushottam, can I ask you something?"

"Sure, of course."

"You know our paper has been very good to you and the
Congress. And I, more than anybody else, have been
responsible for all the publicity you've received. Soon
you'll become the chief minister of Goa. Now I want to
ask you: what will you do for me?"

A pause and, "What do you mean?"

"What I mean is, if you become the chief minister, can
I be your press secretary?"

"I can't answer that."

"Why not?"

"I can't do it."

"Listen, I know you're not the chief minister yet. But
in the event that you do become the chief minister,
could you not at least tell me what your disposition
will be?"

"No."

"You know, I can't believe you're saying this. I am not
asking you for a job. I already have a job. All I am
asking is, if you become the chief minister, what will
you do for me? That's all."

"I can't do anything," he said.

"That's the answer I get after all that I have done for
you? I am disappointed. Goodbye and good luck tomorrow."

"Thank you," he said and put the phone down first. I
pictured him, in his customary white khadi bush shirt
and pants, wearing a self-righteous expression on his face.

During this call, over the carriage of my Underwood
typewriter, I was watching the news editor for my voice
carried unusually far. But he was focused on his work
and didn't look up in my direction.

I lit up a cigarette and hunched over the typewriter,
dismayed beyond description. I had heard that Kakodkar
was a highly principled man, and then with a sinking
feeling in my gut, I realized I was being used, a means
to the end. I shall never forget that moment.

Then I walked to my favorite bar to nurse my bruised ego.

Three days later, the election results came out. The Congress
 was wiped out without a single seat in Goa. The MG won
14 seats to the UG's 12, with two independents, plus an
independent winning in Diu and a lone Congress victory
in Daman.

I kept brooding about Kakodkar. Did he know something
that I didn't? Was that why he said he couldn't do
anything for me? I had no heart to ask him that. After
that personal and private telephone conversation, the
two of us carried on as if nothing had happened. And
during the next year, my encounters with Kakodkar
became strictly professional but cordial.

 Echoes in Toronto

But the manipulation of news by newspaper proprietors
was not limited to Goa. I heard a similar echo in
Toronto in the nineties.

In the 1988 elections, the Progressive Conservative
Party of Canada, led by Prime Minister Brian Mulroney,
had won a second majority with 169 seats out of 295 in
the House of Commons. The Liberals were in opposition
with 83. In the ensuing five years, the Mulroney
government brought in a new bill called Goods and
Services Tax, a highly controversial measure that
proved unpopular with the majority of Canadians. Still,
the government went ahead and passed the tax bill -- a
7% tax on all goods and services effective January
1990. During this term, Mr. Mulroney was also
criticized for being too friendly with the Americans.

In the 1993 election, the public was fed up with the
Tories (PC) as reflected in the opinion polls. But the
press and media had no clear idea as to how deeply the
people loathed the policies of the Tories. The shocker
came on the night of the election-October 25. The fall
from grace for the Tories was as stunning as it was
deserved. They won only two seats in total, each in the
province of New Brunswick and Quebec. The Liberals, led
by Jean Chretien, returned with a huge majority of 177
seats. The Liberals are still in power, having won the
next two elections in 1997 and 2000.

However, an interesting development regarding the power
of the press took place in 1998. A wealthy Canadian
newspaper mogul named Conrad Black financed a new daily
in Toronto called The National Post. Black told readers
that his paper would advance an alternative point of
view, a far right conservative position on politics in
Canada. As owner of London's Daily Telegraph, the
Jerusalem Post, and Chicago's Sun-Times, Mr. Black
hired top talent and spared no expense, at least for
the first two years, to make the Post successful in
creating and wooing the conservative voice in Canada.
In the 2000 election, his paper became as one-sided as
Navhind Times was in 1963. The paper supported a new
party called Canadian Alliance, a highly conservative
group drawn mostly from western Canada, and was
hell-bent to destroy Prime Minister Jean Chretien and
the Liberals. Alas, the people didn't buy it! And the
Liberals forged ahead with a third majority win.

During this time, Mr. Black's personal agenda of
wanting to be a peer in the House of Lords in England
came out front and centre. The British Prime Minister
Tony Blair recommended and the Queen accepted that
Conrad Black be made a Lord. But sweet revenge raised
its arms and Jean Chretien said Black couldn't be a
Lord while being a Canadian citizen. Black was forced
to renounce his Canadian citizenship. Not only that,
but Black sold the National Post in 2001 for a tidy
profit. He is now Lord Black of Crossharbour in the
House of Lords.

I started this article with the observation that facts
are sacred and comment is free. Both elements of
journalism, it seems to me, are flawed. Like beauty and
sex, freedom of the press is in the eye of the beholder
and in the loins of the performer. It's all relative,
never absolute.


Chapter 2:
Goan journalism: Views from near and far

Eugene CorreiaCanada-based Eugene Correia has worked for a wide range
of national-level newspapers published in India.
Besides those listed below, he has also written for
India Today, and a number of expat Indian publications
published from overseas. What stands out is this
journalist's sharp understanding of Goan issues and
politics, and his memory for detail, all the more
remarkable since he has been based outside Goa for
virtually his entire working life.

I must admit I have no direct connection with
journalism in Goa, in the sense of having worked in the
state. However, I was involved in Goan journalism in
Mumbai (then Bombay), but that too in a limited way. I
wrote few pieces for the Konkani-language papers such
as The Goa Times and Ave Maria and the English-Konkani
weekly, The Goan Sports Weekly. After Goa's Liberation,
and till I left India for Canada in late 1981, I took
more than a cursory look at how journalism is practiced
in Goa. I read The Navhind Times often, as the paper
was available in Mumbai during the 1970s.

I was involved in mainstream journalism in Mumbai since
my college days, first with The Indian Express and
later with the Free Press Journal. I provided freelance
services for both papers in the sports department. It
was my dad's cousin, Felix Valois Rodrigues, who
inspired me to take up journalism. A versatile writer
in English, Konkani and Portuguese, he worked for the
Indian Express in New Delhi till his retirement.

 Getting into the field

Felix Uncle, as I called him, introduced me to the news
editor of Indian Express in Mumbai and I was given a
chance to work in the sports department under CSA Swami
. The news editor, S Krishnamoorty, popularly known as
SKM, who regarded by many as more powerful then the
editor because of his close relationship with Ramnath Goenka,
The Indian Express proprietor.

As a freedom fighter who served in jail for his
anti-Portuguese activities, Rodrigues was
well-connected in Goa. After my graduation, he gave me
an introductory letter to Lamberto Mascarenhas, who was
by then no longer the joint editor of The Navhind Times,
Goa's first English-language daily.

Mascarenhas, in turn, gave me an introductory note to
K.S.K. Menon, who had been co-editor with Mascarenhas,
and later promoted to editor. I took the letter to
Menon and, after reading it, said he would contact me
if any position arose.

He gave me back the note. I read the Mascarenhas'
scribbled note and was shocked. Mascarenhas had
introduced me as a "chap" from "my village". It was
true, we both came from Colva, but to a young man like
me seeking a job it was horrifying to read a learned
man like Mascarenhas call me a chap.

It's also true that Mascarenhas and I belong to
different strata in Goa's caste system. I couldn't
believe a man of his stature could introduce me in such
a demeaning way. I think I have the note somewhere in
my collection of memorabilia.

I never got a job at The Navhind Times. In later years,
I met Mascarenhas in the office of Goa Today. From his
days at The Navhind Times to owning Goa Today,
Mascarenhas had become an icon in Goan journalism. He
had also gained reputation as a novelist for his
acclaimed book, Sorrowing Lies My Land. In subsequent
years, I learnt a lot about Mascarenhas as a man and
his role as a freedom fighter in the liberation
struggle in Mumbai. One of his best friends, Professor
Edward Mendonca taught me at St. Xavier's College.
Mendonca and I came to know each other well after me
finishing my graduation. Twice I saw him very drunk and
I had to hail a taxi for him and drop him near his
house in Colaba.

Mendonca reputation for booze is legendary as his
mastery over the English language and his ability to
teach. He and me spoke at times of Mascarenhas's
reputed novel. Mendonca's hand can be been throughout
the book, and many English scholars have also been
curious about it. Because of his alcoholism, it became
easy for many to dismiss Mendonca's influence in
Mascarenhas's book as a boast from a drunkard. Those
like me who knew Mendonca reasonably well have reason
to believe that Mendonca could be anything but a liar.

I held no grudge against Mascarenhas for calling me a
"chap", but deep inside me I carried the wound. Even in
Goa I would go to see him. On one such visit, I asked
him if he would provide me with an opportunity to write
for his magazine. He dismissed me summarily saying he
prefers reputed writers. I thought he would encourage a
young journalist like me. I resolved never to write for
the magazine and I have never written for it.

When I learnt the magazine was taken over by the Salgaocars,
I felt happy. Happy not because the magazine no
longer belonged to Mascarenhas, but happy because I
felt the new owners and the new editor would give
opportunities to new writers. As we now know, it has
happened. Goa Today was no longer the domain of one man
and his ego.

On another visit during summer, I was dressed in a
suit. I was to meet the then Chief Minister Dayanand Bandodkar
 and later attend a wedding in the city. Since I had no
personal means of transport, for me to travel from
Bogmallo to Panaji and back twice would be difficult,
so I had worn the suit and left home early morning. As
soon as I told Mascarenhas that I was going to meet
Bandodkar, Mascarenhas's face changed colour. He
admonished me for wearing a suit to see the chief
minister, saying that journalists must be dressed
informally. I explained to Mascarenhas, but I could see
that Mascarenhas bore some hatred for the late
Bhausaheb, as the chief minister was affectionately known.

That very same day, I met some journalists, including
Michael Fernandes who, I believe, was The Indian Express
 correspondent in Goa. I told them that Mascarenhas
seemed piqued at me for wearing a suit. If I remember
correctly, Fernandes said that Mascarenhas has a
personal bias against Bandodkar regarding the
withdrawal of government advertisement. He told me that
Mascarenhas and Bandodkar were once on a friendly
basis, but both had fallen apart.

I think my second adventure in getting a job in Goa
came when Erasmo de Sequeira launched his paper, Goa Monitor
. I applied for a position but never got appointed. The
paper lived for a brief time.

Some years later, my uncle told me that he has an offer
from the Chowgules to start a Konkani daily. I came to
Goa for a visit and went to see Rodrigues at his
residence in Darbandora. He and I designed the logo for Uzvadd,
though it may have been refined when the paper was
launched. Rodrigues never took up the position as he
was to be under the editorial supervision of Madhav Gadkari,
the then editor of Gomantak. Gadkari was fiercely pro-Marathi
 and my uncle felt his efforts to promote Konkani journalism
 would be subverted by Gadkari. To my surprise, Evagrio Jorge,
the noted freedom fighter and news reader at
All-India Radio in Panaji, was its first editor. The
paper was well received. As expected, Jorge and the
owners or probably Gadkari had a difference of opinion.
In a short time, Jorge was out and he launched his own
paper, Novem Uzvadd.

 Throwing light on Uzvadd

Without the financial muscles of the Chowgules that
sustained Uzvadd, Jorge's paper suffered. I think it
was also during this time that a group started another Konkani
 daily, Novem Goem. I am not sure why Uzvadd eventually
folded up.

My friend, Cyril D'Cunha, started a sports weekly
called Goal, and I was its Mumbai correspondent. I
contributed many stories till the paper went under for
reasons unknown to me. This was my direction connection
to Goa's journalism. Later on, I was offered a job at
the West Coast Times, a daily launched by the House of
Timblos. At least two senior colleagues of mine at the
Free Press Journal went to Goa to start the paper. One
of them was Y.M. Hegde and the other, P.R. Menon.

Before going to Goa and even after the paper began
publishing from Margao in South Goa, Hegde said it
would be good for me to come to Goa. I forget the year
it was launched and if I was still a freelancer at the
Free Press Journal or on its staff. By then, I was not
keen on settling down in Goa. To me, Goa was still in
the backwaters of journalism. To leave a city like
Mumbai where journalism made blood rush in one's veins,
and go to Goa, where things moved at a snail's pace,
was something I dreaded. When I wanted to come to Goa,
I was found unwanted.

After leaving Free Press Journal and joining The Hindu,
I met Raul Fernandes one day in Mumbai. He was scouting
for talent for O Heraldo, then about to be turned into
an English-language daily. I knew Fernandes, though not
as well as his brother John and his dad, Antonio
Caetano Fernandes.

The Fernandes family was close friends with my friends
in Mumbai, the Ribeiros, owners of the Goan restaurant
in Dhobitalao called Snowflake. When in Goa, my friend
and I went to see AC, as he was popularly known, at the
Casa JD Fernandes store in Panaji. And whenever John
came to Mumbai to get supplies for their store, he
would visit Snowflake where I hung out most of my time.

Raul Fernandes and I met at the Kyani Restaurant in Dhobitalao
 and he offered me to come to Goa as chief reporter.
The offer was unattractive financially for me to leave
The Hindu. I was given the impression that Ervelle Menezes,
than with Indian Express in Mumbai, was joining as
editor. Fernandes was in consultation with Menezes, I
was told. At a second meeting, Fernandes informed me
that Rajan Narayan was chosen to be the editor. I was
surprised. I never had any admiration for Narayan's
journalism. I had heard some stories about his
resignation from The Mirror, a monthly publication from
the Eve's Weekly group. Even though the offer of chief
reporter was not tempting, I was not keen on working
under Narayan.

I knew Narayan on a hi-and-bye basis when I was at Free
Press Journal and he was at Onlooker, a
sister-publication from the Free Press Journal group. I
forget what position he held at the Onlooker magazine,
and whether Narayan was there when M.J. Akbar edited it
or later when M. Rahman took over.

I once covered a function at the United States
Information Services (USIS) office in Mumbai where
Narayan was present. A well-known scholar of Black
studies was visiting Mumbai from the United States.
Narayan carried with him a book by this scholar. I
found it very preposterous on Narayan's part to bring
the heavy volume to the meeting.

In fairness to Narayan, he made O Heraldo what it's
today. I also heard some allegations about his
wheeling-dealing with powers-that-be in the government.
Many journalists and some politicians told me that
Narayan deserved the violent attack on him as his
journalism was biased. No matter what his journalism
is, the attack on him was a shameful incident in the
history of Goan journalism.

I am told he's Goa's bravest journalist. Maybe true, as
I am in no position to judge that from here in Canada.
But I find his writing very weak. His editorials and
columns have lot of spelling errors and the grammar is
often flawed. His column, Stray Thoughts, is not well
composed. Just a month or so ago, someone gave me old
copies of O Heraldo. Going through his column, I found
his thoughts not very cohesive. He writes in a
disjointed way. One thing I will agree, he writes
strongly, not sparing those whom he targets. If carving
a well-written piece is his fault, then using strong
language is his forte. I form my opinion not on just
the few papers I read recently, but also from reading O
Heraldo during my visits to Goa and from those at times
posted on the Goanet email list (http://www.goanet.org).

 On holiday

Just after a year's stay in Canada, I came to Goa on a
holiday. One fine day, Fulgencio Rodrigues, once the
leader of the toddy-tappers association and a candidate
for the assembly, and a fellow-villager in Bogmallo,
came to my house and told me that Umaji Chowgule wanted
to meet with me.

I was taken aback as I didn't know Umaji personally.
Rodrigues, who worked for the Chowgules, took me on his
scooter to meet him Umaji at the Chowgule offices. To
my surprise, he offered me a job as joint editor of a
sports daily the Chowgules were then planning on
launching. The other editor was to be Antonio Botelho,
a former sports writer at The Navhind Times, who I knew
well, both as writer and later as one of the
office-bearers of the Goa Football Association.

I was a landed immigrant in Canada and my first
experience in Canada was not very good. There was
recession then on and I was finding it difficult to get
a job in my field. I worked in a warehouse for
sometime, making enough money to buy a ticket to India.

The offer came with a flat in the Sant Inez locality of
Panaji and a car. I told Umaji that if I accept the
position, I would forfeit my landed immigrant status in
Canada. I asked if what would happen if the paper
failed to fly. He said he would absorb me in the public
relations department of the Chowgules. I went to Sant
Inez with one of the Chowgule officers to select a
flat. I picked one. After that I went to the Gomantak
building to meet with Narayan Athawale, editor of Gomantak
. Umaji had explained that Athawale would be the
overall in charge of the new paper.

After speaking to Athawale, I met some workers. I
noticed some tension among them regarding the launch of
a new paper. The workers felt that profits from the Gomantak
 paper would be diverted to sustain the new sports
daily. In other words, the workers would get lesser
bonuses. The atmosphere in the press seemed vitiated. I
was also aware of what happened to Evagrio Jorge. I was
contemplating whether I should risk my Canadian
immigration to remain in Goa. My heart and mind was
divided, and so was my family. My dad said I should
stay back as the job prospects in Canada very dim, but
my mom said I should go back and see what the future holds.

At the same time I was engaged and in a week or two
would get married. My future wife insisted that I
forego the offer and return to Canada. I gave the whole
thing a good thought and decided to tell Umaji that I
was not interested. He had told me that if I decide to
accept the offer, I should finally meet Ramesh Chowgule
who, I think, was the managing director of the Chowgule
group. I believe the paper was never launched. To this
day, I am not sure how the Chowgules came to know about
me. My hunch is that Prashant Joshi, former official of
the Goa Cricket Association, whose family owns the
Joshi and Sons Auto Center in Vasco, told Umaji about
me. I had gone to visit Joshi in Vasco when I came to Goa.

During my next visit to Goa, I was happy to know that
one of my colleagues at Free Press Journal, Padiyar,
was editor of The Navhind Times with another former
colleague, M.M. Mudaliar, as his associate. In fact,
Mudaliar was passed over by the management after Bikram Vohra
 left to go to Khaleej Times in Dubai. Mudaliar and me
had lunch one day in a Panaji restaurant and he seemed
quite distraught. Padiyar, who joined The Navhind Times
from The Times of India where he had moved from Free
Press Journal, had a brief stint as editor as he passed
away following a heart attack.

I knew the publisher of The Navhind Times, Vilas Sardesai,
well because of his involvement with soccer. Once
when I was in Goa, he, D'Cunha and I travelled in a car
he borrowed from Vohra, as his own car was unavailable,
all the way from Panaji to Margao to watch a soccer
match. I never asked Sardesai for a favour to get me a
job at The Navhind Times. I was content working in
Mumbai where journalism flourished those days and
continues to do so till today.

 Grown since

When I check websites of Goan papers or when some
friends and family bring Goan papers to Canada from
their visits, I notice that Goan journalism has grown
since I saw it first-hand. It behooves well for this
field that Goa now enjoys many dailies and has
correspondents of many leading Indian papers.

The quality of reporting and editing is still not very
impressive. What is, however, impressive is that the
new breed of journalists shows lot of guts and
vitality. I once discussed the teaching of journalism
with Fr. Planton Faria, who used to run the Diocesan
Communication Centre at the Archbishop's House at
Altinho in Panaji.

He showed me the student paper and I saw some good
writing. I am not aware if the centre is still
operating. Fr. Faria was editing a Konkani paper while
also running the centre.

It has been my ambition to have a journalism college in
Goa named after Frank Moraes, one of the finest editors
in Indian journalism. There may be many who would
dispute my suggestion on the basis that Moraes didn't
do anything for Goan journalism per se, and I totally
agree. No matter he did play a direct role in Goan
journalism, but he was a Goan journalist of repute.

One may argue that during the Portuguese days there
were many Goan journalists who played crucial roles in
promoting Goan journalism. Some of these journalists,
who were also leaders, were in the forefront of Goa's
liberation struggle. Maybe so, Moraes too played a
vital background role in Goa's liberation, largely
because of his close friendship with Prime Minister
Jawaharlal Nehru.

Whatever the case, a college of journalism, affiliated
to the Goa University, is a dream that I cherish and
hope it would be realized in my lifetime. Goa has a
privileged status in the history of the written word in
India with the publication of the first-ever book in
the country. Journalism is part of the written word
and, hence, a college that fosters the growth of
journalism would be ideal in the serene surrounding of
Goa's educational landscape. That's my thought to
ponder for those in the decision-making positions.


Chapter 3:
West Coast Times : A dream ruined

Valmiki Faleiro One of Goa's own, home-grown profilic writers between
the mid-seventies and mid-eighties, Faleiro worked his
way through other professions too, before coming back
to commit himself in writing once again, only to reveal
a style that remains as readable as ever. Luckily for
Goa, Faleiro doesn't rule out the possibility of taking
to the pen -- or should one say, the computer keyboard
-- sometime in the near future.

Summer, 1978. Whether Goa's only English daily hit
newsstands in Margao at 9 or at 11 in the morning,
mattered little. I was preparing for my final B.Com.
exams due in a few weeks and had, in any case, tired
myself of asking The Navhind Times' management to make
it a newspaper (for us in South Goa) that went with
breakfast, not brunch.

My association with The Navhind Times (NT) had begun
precisely on February 23, 1975. NT carried an article
penned jointly by D.M. Silveira and me. (Silveira was
one of my two English lecturers at Margao's Damodar College
 and, with the other, B.G.Koshy, later turned to
journalism: Silveira was Editor, ONLOOKER, of Mumbai's
FPJ group and Koshy the Associate Ed. of The Current Weekly.)

Then on, the NT Editor, Dr. K.S.K. Menon, encouraged me
to write. Off and on, he would also commission me to do
Sunday features, sometimes full-page, on topics of
prevailing reader interest. Between 1975 and 1978, I
had some 45 by-lines at the NT, then a 6-pager (10
pages on Sunday.)

Sometime in between, Dr. K.S.K. asked me to join the NT
desk -- with free education at Dempo College of Commerce
 and no-night-shifts baits. I ought to have grabbed the
offer. The company was great: K.P. Nair (News Ed), the
incredibly witty Balan (Chief Sub), my friend Patrick Michael
 (a gifted Malayalee who, with me, but surreptitiously,
covered North Goa for The Current Weekly -- together we
had done the Siddarth Bandodkar shooting story, but who K.S.K.
 ensured stayed as Proof Reader without promotion at
the NT!) Gabru and Cyril D'Cunha were at the desk and
Gurudas R. ("Kaka") Singbal, Pramod Khandeparkar and
Jovito Lopes on the field?

For reasons that will take me off this track, I
declined the offer. Promising Dr. K.S.K., however, that
I'd join the day I complete graduation -- though I
never really meant to take journalism as a career. I
had set my sights on becoming a Company Secretary after
B.Com. but while doing the correspondence course,
thought I'd work -- and earn pocket money.

The '70s were times of MRTP culture. There were
monopolies and there were restrictive trade practices,
and Commissions that could barely hold them in check.
Even though Dr. K.S.K. to my sheer amazement once
bragged that the Prime Minister's private secretary
telephoned him while he was shaving just that morning
(to compliment him on the day's "excellent" editorial),
fact was that NT rarely traveled 35 kilometres to Margao
 before 8 or 9 in the morning. Times wouldn't change
and the NT stood still. It was a proud monopoly, which,
after all, had weathered challenges from the likes of
Goa Monitor (Papa Baba Sequeira-owned, Jagdish Rao
-published, Mario Cabral Sa-edited and Alfred De Tavares
-chief reported.)

Back to the summer of 1978. As our 'unholy trinity' of
Aleixo, Shekhar and me daily sat at the Govind Poy
house on Abade Faria Road, Margao, preparing for our
final B.Com. exams, I missed Kaka Singbal -- a.k.a.
Balsing, the Sunday columnist and Chief Reporter of NT
-- and Sripad P. Madkaikar, who at one time or the
other published most of Goa's dailies. Both had called
at home earlier in the day. Kaka left a note saying he
had something "interesting" for me and would I kindly
see him soon. I met him at his Patto quarters early
next morning. He said he had quit NT and joined a
newspaper that was going to be published -- from
Margao! He said the proprietor, Panduronga (Chalebab) Timblo
 -- Papa to most of us -- had made a blanket offer:
whatever the NT offered me, he would offer more!

I immediately went to Navhind Bhavan. Dr. K.S.K. was
seated with Fr. Lactancio Almeida, then Editor of
Vauraddeancho Ixtt. I explained that it would help me
cope with my Company Secretary studies from the
comforts of my own home in Margao? The ex-Army man
perennially dressed in cool white almost sprang from
the chair, his neatly waxed whiskers bristling with
rage: "Are you going to that W.C. s**t Times?"

He tried a different line, "Are you going to join my
competitor and stab me in the chest?" And yet another,
"Remember I am the P.A.C. (Press Advisory Committee)
chairman for another three years -- and as long as I'm
around, I'll ensure you don't get an accreditation!!"

I was painfully aware that I was reneging on a promise,
that by joining a competitor, I'd hurt the hand that
had, in good measure, groomed me. But Company
Secretaryship was my object -- not journalism -- and I
honestly imagined that studying the course material and
sending out its Response Sheets would be better done
from home and without working on shifts, as I'd at NT.
[I was, eventually, recompensed with poetic justice. I
hadn't reckoned that joining a fledgling -- nay,
nascent -- publication as its Staff Reporter, with
added responsibility of news-gathering in South Goa
(which meant re-writing copy from mofussil
correspondents who largely hailed from a vernacular
background) would be so engrossing an affair that I
ended up sending not a single Response Sheet to the
Institute of Company Secretaries of India!]

The West Coast Times (WCT) began churning out dummies
by late-June 1978. My die was cast on June 6, 1978, by
way of acceptance of the appointment letter, personally
signed by Papa (Panduronga Timblo) himself. One of the
most promising publishing ventures in the history of
Goa's print media was about to take off?

The mid-'70s witnessed a boom in Goa's mining industry,
both in terms of productivity and profitability.
Panduronga Timblo Industrias (PTI) had evidently also
made pots of cash, particularly from its manganese
mines in Rivona, Quepem. While brother, Gurudas' Timblo
Private Limited (TPL) had during this time invested in
some far-sighted (but alas, badly managed) industrial
enterprises, including fertilizers, rubber footwear and
collapsible tubes, youngest brother, Modu's Sociedade
de Fomento Industrial (SFI) was consolidating its
strengths in mining and diversifying into hospitality.
PTI did not lag behind -- with Parshuram Paper Mills at
Chiplun, industrial gases in Bangalore and, to the
surprise of many, an English-language newspaper from Margao!

 A rival to Hobson's choice NT

The last comment may be off the mark. As I later learnt
from Papa himself, the project was conceived from a
broader vision. Throughout the Konkan, from Ratnagiri district
 in Maharashtra to South Canara (now Dakshin Kannada)
districts in Karnataka, no English-language daily was
available before noon or afternoon those days. While
the Mumbai dak editions of Times of India (ToI) and
Indian Express (IE) did the honours in coastal
Maharashtra, it was Bangalore's Deccan Herald in
coastal Karnataka. Goa's NT, which took only a couple
of hours less to reach Margao, could not be expected to
travel beyond its borders on mass circulation basis --
till WCT arrived, NT was in fact believed to have
pegged its circulation (to avoid re-classification to a
higher bracket, which implied higher minimum wages to
staff and workers!)

It was Papa's dream to fill this void of a morning
English-language daily for the entire Konkan, from Goa.
Hence the West Coast in the newspaper's name.
Competition to NT was only incidental. (I am not aware
of any family feuds among Goa's mining magnates at the
time and shall stand corrected if there was any such
raison d' etat. If there really were any differences
between the two families, they would be buried some
years later: under blessings of the Partagal Swamiji,
Papa's grand-daughter, Pallavi, was given in marriage
to the Dempo headman, Vasantrao's son, Srinivas -
current Chairman of the Dempo group.)

The infrastructure put into place to realize Papa's
dream matched. A modern civil construction,
meticulously designed, was put up at Davorlim, just
beyond Margao's municipal boundary. Editorial,
advertising and printing departments were housed under
one roof for optimum synch. All sections of the
newspaper's production process, from subbing to
typesetting, from proof reading to optical processing,
from plate-making to the final printing, were so
located as to achieve maximum production speed.
Attention was paid even to minor details, like sending
galley proofs to the news desk in a jiffy. Such were
the conveniences that the edition could go to bed by a
leisurely 4.30am (the print run took barely half an
hour.) Communication lines were made as reliable as
possible, given frequent power interruptions. Both PTI
and UNI ticker services were subscribed to (though only
the PTI had a carrier station in Margao to cope with
breakdowns.) A full-fledged bureau was set up in
Panjim, connected to the editorial offices in Davorlim
by teleprinter link.

The printing technology employed was said to be the
best available in India -- except in typesetting, where
for some unknown reason, Lino machines were used
instead of computers (maybe the value of lead scrap, in
place of katchra bromides that computers generated
those days, had something to do with it!) No more
block-making for photographs and illustrations; these
were optically processed directly to printing plates. A
modern web offset printing machine was brought in
(together with a Delhi-based Haryanvi operator who soon
acquired fondness for palm feni from nearby Jose's bar
and other unprintables from across the Rawanfond
railway tracks!). The machine churned out, if I
remember right, 50,000 copies/hour. Even the camera
purchased for the Staff Photographer was a
top-of-the-line German Leica, complete with an array of
lenses and filters, worth a lakh of rupees of 1978.
Krishna Kurwar managed the plant, under the
GM-cum-Publisher, Madkaikar. The result was a
refreshing, never-before-seen product on the landscape
of Goa's print media.

To match, a high-profile editorial team was put
together under the stewardship of Konkani-speaking M.G. Bailur
 and his Associate, Tulu-speaking Y.M. Hegde, both
originally from South Canara. The backbone of the
newspages, the News Editor, was P.R. Menon, the old and
revered FPJ warhorse. The complement of three Chief
Subs and about a dozen Subs was picked from various
national dailies -- Goa could come up with only two
pairs of hands on the news desk. Being unfamiliar with
local affairs, this cast added onus on Kaka Singbal and
me to mark the priority of our dispatches in the
initial days!

The news-gathering team headed by Kaka (assisted by
Dharmanand Kamat in Panjim and Karamchand Furtado on
the TP link) was, of course, entirely home-bred. I
rushed college-mate Leslie St. Anne thro' a crash
course in typing to join me in Margao. In South Goa, we
had Radharao Gracias and Joey Rodrigues (both law
students then), Felicio Esteves (who went on to become
a Ministerial P.A. and co-author of the infamous Marks Scandal
 subsequently scooped by me for the FPJ), John Carlos Aguiar
 in Ponda, Vallabh Dessai in Quepem, Minguel Mascarenhas
 in Sanguem, Kelly Furtado in Vasco, and half a dozen stringers
 across South Goa. Manikrao (brother of the
award-winning ToI photographer, Prabhakar M. Shirodkar)
was our lensman, assisted by Lloyd Coutinho in Margao
and Lui Godinho in Vasco, excellent photographers all,
who provided the memorable photo inputs that shot the WCT
 to instant fame.

WCT hit the newsstands in early-July 1978. We raced. In Margao,
I concentrated on at least one off-beat,
human-interest, interview-based or photo-story per day,
carried usually boxed or in anchor position. Aware of
our printing process strengths, I never lost an
opportunity to get Manik shoot a good pic, including
one that had to be clicked from a bubbling canoe in
choppy waters off a rocky beach in Betul, South Goa.
[This one was of a rotting human male corpse --
sprawling, shocking and white on the dark rocks - which
the cops had neglected to recover despite the local
Sarpanch's days-long complaints. P.R. Menon splashed
the pic in the lead-story position. I had to take
Papa's reprimand the following morning -- it seems the
Lt. Governor was taken so aback picking the morning's
WCT that his P.A. personally called Papa to complain
about bad taste. But I still considered the
two-and-half Rupees paid to the canoe man for the ride
a fine expense!]

Consciously, though, we shunned sensationalizing and Kaka
 firmly shot the idea of carrying the day's matka
figures. We refrained from gimmicks like carrying dummy
advertisements, especially in the Classified columns,
barometer to a newspaper's popularity.

Instead, we went for innovative editorial content.
[Including, at my instance, a SundayMag column on
Sleight of Hand by the Salcete magician, Marco. When
Marco didn't show up for a couple of weeks, leading to
howls from eager readers of his column, Y.M. Hegde was
so furious that I had to fill in with a piece on how
Marco had performed the Vanishing Trick and restore
YM's trademark smile!]

To further notch up circulation, I almost coerced Madkaikar
 into breaking the back of monopoly newspaper
distributors in South Goa -- by selling retail bundles
to any willing vendor on an initial sell-or-return basis.

Results were evident. By month 6, we sold around 4,500
copies in and around Margao alone, compared to less
than half that number by NT. Circulation problems,
however, persisted in North Goa, including delayed
deliveries to news stalls in the northern talukas. But
then, we had just two vehicles to cover the entire
territory. ("Penny wise, Pound foolish," P.R. Menon
forever rued, he never carried much of an impression
about the managerial abilities of Goan mineowners --
all his life, after all, Menon had worked in a
establishment owned by the Karnanis, Marwaris to the
core!) Even then, overall, WCT's print order would be
just about 2,000 copies short of the NT. And at the
rate we were going, the gap would fast be closed and surpassed?

My heroes, of course, were Shivram Borkar and Babal Borkar,
ace drivers who by day ferried the shift editorial
staff to and from quarters in Margao to office in Davorlim
. By night, the duo snoozed whatever time available, on
heaps of 'raddi' in the press. And zipped their way
with newspaper bundles to either end of Goa before the
crack of dawn -- in terribly overloaded, ramshackle,
dieselized Ambassador cars that should have been a
delight to Mario Miranda and Alexyz (we used a
syndicated pocket cartoon, incidentally, since Mario
was with the ToI group in Mumbai and Alexyz hadn't yet
surfaced as a cartoonist.) Babal and Shivram, true
heroes who virtually were at call, round the clock,
round the year. [They of course made out-of-pocket
money, ferrying passengers on the return. When this
reached Papa's ears, he tailed one of the drivers one
fine morning. When the unsuspecting fellow stopped to
take in passengers, Papa is reported to have pulled
alongside and advised the driver, "Bhara, bhara, taxi
ti!" The man was often magnanimous. The driver did not
lose his job.]

By the first year of publication, despite impressive
circulation figures, there were no signs of advertising
revenue picking up to reach the financial break-even
point. To the sheer dismay of our well-knit editorial
team, there were also no signs of implementation of the
pan-Konkan Plan. The management, instead, began
fighting shy to inject fresh investment in the
enterprise. Corners started getting cut. Virgin plates
came to used only for jacket pages, inside pages were
processed on recycled plates. Papa's dream began to
show signs of fatigue?

By the third month into the second year of publication,
amid this uncertain scenario, arrived Nicholas
("Nicky") Rebello, a lino-typesetter and leader of the
NT worker's union. I will not hedge a bet if Nicky was
'inspired' by his employers, but having been in touch
with him much after his retirement from NT at his home
in Betim, I can vouchsafe Nicky didn't travel to Davorlim
 by any 'political' inspiration. My best guess is that
some restive workers of the WCT press, aware of wages
being paid at NT, must have approached and invited
Nicky to Davorlim. The workers of WCT press got
unionized and Nicky soon served a Charter of Demands.
The management stood its ground, often unreasonably in
the opinion of the editorial team - which of course had
no locus standi in the imbroglio. As the strike showed
signs of protraction, P.R. Menon, known for leftist
leanings from his fiery days at the FPJ, tried to
intervene with the management. To no avail.

(P.R. Menon was forever of the conviction that
managerial skills of Goan mine-owners were limited to
blasting, transportation and shipping -- and after the
importer's cheque arrived, to distributing the proceeds
to those who had blasted, transported and shipped. And,
of course, to profits!) Papa, strangely, sometimes used
queer management methods. There was this Chief
Accountant, hired for the PTI group, on a then princely
salary of Rs.4,000 a month. To get a feedback on the
Chief Accountant, Papa assigned a peon drawing no more
than Rs.250 a month. After office hours, the peon would
report to Papa on the activities of the C.A. from
which, inferences on the Chief Accountant were drawn!

But a man of immense experience and intuition he was.
From the streets of native Assolna in Salcete, where as
a child he hawked textiles, a wooden yard measure slung
across his shoulder and a coolie with a headload of
wares in tow, Papa must have surely post-graduated from
the University of Experience. On occasions when I was
seated in his chamber, his P.A., Sambari would buzz to
announce a visitor. In a flash Papa knew why the man
had come, what he would say, and had the replies even
before the visitor entered! I personally saw flaming
creditors leave his chamber smiling, even though not a
paisa had yielded! He had that rare ability to disarm
even the most irate visitor. But when it came to the
WCT strike, I have always held the belief that a man of
such calibre who could have easily placated the
agitated workers and even broken their Union, was
somehow carried away with the opinion of one trusted
man, who was obviously misleading him -- and since I've
named names, I will exclude Madkaikar and Kurwar.]

With no end to the strike in sight, Bailur, Hegde, Kaka
and me next met and virtually pleaded with Papa to
concede some sops to the striking workmen and get the
publication going. I think the establishment (may not
have been Papa) thereafter regarded as being pro-Union!

The editorial team, bulk of which was from outstation,
met frequently during those bekaar days and finally,
the painful decision emerged that we tell the
management to either settle the dispute with the Union
or we quit en masse. The management was unmoved. We
quit, but Papa's dispenser of bad advice insisted on
serving 'dismissal' letters!

And thus a lofty dream to publish from Goa, the land of
Banna Halli, an English daily serving the entire of
Lord Parashuram's Konkan on the West Coast of India,
went phut. A modern press and process, an excellent
editorial team -- path-breaking infrastructure in Goa's
history of newspaper production -- lay in waste.

The venerable Bailur returned to retirement, as did
P.R. Menon. Y.M. Hegde joined Mumbai's Shipping Times
as Editor. The Chief Subs and Subs returned to their
original publications or to new jobs. A Goan Sub,
Vincent Rangel, from Tivim-Bardez, went into business,
as the Mumbai-end partner of Manvin Couriers. I joined
the FPJ Group (Free Press Journal, its
tabloid-eveninger Bulletin and fortnightly, Onlooker)
as Goa Correspondent; moved in like capacity to IE when
FPJ's Chief Editor, S. Krishnamurty joined IE's Mumbai
edition as Resident Editor; played a role in J.D. Fernandes'
 decision to start an English avatar of the near
defunct Portuguese O Heraldo (including the hiring of
its first editor) -- and almost joined, but didn't
quite -- as that newspaper's Chief Reporter, for
reasons that Rajan Narayan should know. And finally got
into business. Without regrets.


Chapter 4:
Novem Goem: The Roof Caves In

Paul J FernandesPaul Fernandes, known to journalists in the state for
his amiable nature, as also his ability and inclination
to do off-beat and far-from-the-beaten-track stories,
has published a vast amount on issues that concern
rural Goa, archaeology and the average resident of Goa.
He was recently winner of a Centre for Science and
Environment (Delhi) fellowship to study water issues in
Goa.

Konkani as the official language of Goa was then still
a distant dream. And granting of statehood to the Union
Territory, a remote possibility. A few Konkani
protagonists casually discussing the issue felt that a
medium was sorely needed to project the aspirations of
true Goans. And only a "people's newspaper" free from
the shackles of the capitalist could achieve that, they thought.

A few years earlier, Uzvadd, reincarnated as Novo Uzvadd
 and Novo Prakash, had become defunct after its editor
Evagrio Jorge learnt a few bitter truths. The Herald --
in its new English-language avatar as also in the
much-touted role of a champion of Konkani -- was yet to
appear on the horizon.

It was then in 1980 on a dark night ... in Panjim ...
that the idea of launching a Konkani daily was born.
And talk about the requirement of funds for the mammoth
project threw up a novel idea. The way out was a 'pad-iatra
' (or, long march across Goa on foot) through the
villages of the then union territory. At a follow-up
meeting, the individuals involved formed a Trust --
called the Novem Goem Pratishthan. They crowned the
then young seminary-student turned trade union leader
Christopher Fonseca, who floated the idea of a
pad-iatra, as its general secretary.

Trustees were Sara Machado, Advocate Pandurang
Mulgaonkar, Gurunath Kelekar, Dr F M Rebello, Advocate
Antonio Lobo, and Gustav Clovis Costa. Mathany Saldanha
and Fr Braz Faleiro played a stellar role in getting
the idea through.

And so began an eventful, and an unforgettable, 70-day
trudge through the nooks and corners of Goa. There were
some 70-odd volunteers, which included a few women and
two vivacious sisters, Tina and Colete Xavier, students
at that time.

The pad-iatra started on October 26, 1980. Fonseca
recalls that wherever they went, they received a good
response. Money, small and big sums, was contributed.
There were occasions too when -- language being a
sensitive issue in Goa -- they were insulted. But they
had decided not to retaliate in any way. A person spat
on a young pad-iatri, Srikant Chodankar, when he
knocked at his door for his contribution for the new
paper. But he bravely said 'thank you' and stepped out
with the others.

Two of the girls accompanying him burst into tears, as
participants from that venture recall.

The eventful 'pad-iatra' ended on December 31, New
Year's eve. By then, the volunteers had managed to
collect around Rs 250,000, a tidy sum considering that
this was just in the start of the 'eighties, when the
rupee still had more value than now.

Needless to say, it took about six months to create the
requisite infrastructure to launch the daily. Finding
premises, purchasing machinery and recruiting the
staff. When the Novem Goem first hit the stands in
1980, many naturally had great expectations that it
would serve as a people's paper. Several dailies in the
past had not survived for long, given the huge
requirement of funds

Indeed, Novem Goem could not scale great heights; but
it had many 'lows' during its span. The coverage could
not be extensive, nay it was even below average. This
is perhaps understandably because the publication could
not engage a big team of reporters or set up a network
of reporters in all corners of Goa. But it carried to
work with few expectations and fewer rewards.

During the agitation, the tabloid served to keep the
mass of Konkani lovers, specially in its heartland of Salcete,
if it can be called that, posted of various
developments. The paper served to forge a relationship
and bridge the gap between the old Roman Konkani
writers and those who had just started writing in the
Devnagri script. Well-known poets, writers, such as
Uday Bhembre, Dr Bhikaji Ganekar, Manoharrari Sardesai
were among those who often contributed their writings
to the paper.

The paper also sought to raise the standard of Konkani
among its readers by often explaining difficult words,
as compared to the poor quality of writing in most
Roman script periodicals. I myself recall contributing
to a column Aichim Don Utram (Today's Two Words), which
gave the readers two new words to learn daily, with
meanings in English and also illustrated by examples.

'Konkni uloi, Konkni boroi, Konknintlean sorkar choloi'
(Speak Konkani, Write Konkani, Administer The State In
Konkani), the slogan coined by one of the trustees,
Gurunath Kelekar, gained currency and set the mood
among Konkani lovers.

While the paper finally closed down, coincidentally, it
did so after Konkani was included in the Eight Schedule
of the Constitution of India and Goa was granted
statehood -- two of the avowed objectives for which the
Trust had launched the paper. Many may be skeptical
about the contribution of this small paper to these two
great and important causes. But having worked in this
paper for just over three years as a sub-editor, I
recall that Dr Rebello, as its editor, contributed
significantly to the chorus for the twin demand.

DURING THE ENTIRE existence of the paper, its
management had to face several struggles and even
upheavals among the trustees.

Its problems started from the day the presses were set
up. While an offset machine could have been bought, a
Glockner machine owned by one of the Trustees was sold
to the Trust. With that, it was only possible to print
a tabloid paper. The machinery subsequently gave
several problems. How a newspaper cannot survive
without infusion of frequent doses of capital was best
exemplified here. Advertising revenue was very low,
though there were phases when its staff pooled their
efforts to raise funds by canvassing for advertisements
through their own initiative. There were managerial
problems, too. With lack of experience in running a
paper, and negligence by some of the Trustees at
certain stages, the roof finally had to cave in.

A former trustee alleges that the quantum of
advertisements released by the government to the paper
was meagre, and the staff even led a morcha to the
Secretariat, alleging shabby treatment. This continued
even after Konkani was made the official language of
the state.

If the paper survived for around a decade, it could be
termed as a miracle of sorts. There were around 7,000
readers, who religiously read the daily. However, the
poor coverage towards the end saw its readership go
down sharply. The emergence of a slickly printed and
produced Konkani-monthly Gulab also hastened its death.

However, there was no dearth of sympathisers. Gulf Goans
 contributed generously, and quite often, to keep it
afloat. But tiatrists were largely not among them as
they showed apathy towards it vis-a-vis advertisements
of their shows. They preferred an English-language
daily and very few advertised in Novem Goem, if at all rarely.

The real heroes and the sufferers in the bargain were
the Novem Goem workers, who toiled during its entire
10-year existence. Lack of revenue meant that they
often received their salaries late. On the 10th of any
month, it was not unusual for the management to
announce they would give some advance on the salary.
For one thing, the salary was being delayed; over and
above, to be told that they would get it in
installments was the ultimate affront. More so when
these were people with families to feed. But this went
on month after month, specially during the last few years.

They were entitled to a scale of salaries under Palekar
Wage Award -- the Central Government-notified standards
then in force for minimum wages to be paid to
journalists -- but they accepted graciously whatever
they were offered. This was, naturally, much below the
Wage Board recommendations.

And the employees, having few options, hung on with
commendable courage, though there was no hope of a turn
around. Their toil and sacrifices were really something
to think about. After the paper closed, they should
have received their dues from what came in as the
proceeds from the sale of machinery and the balance of
a raffle draw, which had been floated to raise funds
for the paper.

But they are yet to be given their due.

The paper finally went to bed for the last time some
time in June 1988. And a novel experiment to offer a
people's paper to the masses made a quiet and sad
exit....


Chapter 5:
The Herald of A New Ethos

R.K. NairR.K. Nair sees himself as a battle-scarred veteran too
(adding, "though close friends in Goa may describe me
as bottle-scarred"). He has 'seen action' in Kuwait and
Iraq after his departure from Goa. Back in India after
the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, he worked for the Indian
Express. He then went to Oman, returning again to take
up an assignment with the Hindu, where he currently
works.

So the Rajan era has finally come to an end at the Herald
. Sad though it may seem in human terms, it is unlikely
to surprise anyone who has at least a nodding
acquaintance with his brand of journalism -- especially
his strident and sensational approach to contentious
issues, such as the language agitation of the 'eighties.

By the time I arrived in Goa, the Herald (formerly O Heraldo
) had celebrated the third anniversary of its
re-incarnation as an Englishman -- but it was not yet
out of the birth pangs. It often looked like a one-man
show. The six-to-eight page broad-sheet was Rajan
Narayan's play-field, and he played with gusto -- solo
at times, fast and loose frequently. His output was
phenomenal. He wrote the lead story, the front-page
anchor, the edit almost everyday, six days a week, for
several years. Besides, there also was the long-winded
'Stray Thoughts', on Sundays.

Life at The Navhind Times was sedentary by comparison.

In keeping with the image of Goa being a land of
laid-back lotus eaters, the NT staffers were under no
pressure to perform. Being the dominant daily, news
came naturally to the NT. In those days, it operated
out of a small rented building, adjoining a bar and
restaurant, on the outskirts of Panjim as the new
building near the Panjim market was under construction.
The bar and the building belonged to the then Mayor of Panjim,
an affable man whose employees entertained the NT
staffers on credit. The editorial staff got an off-day
after two days of work -- that's 10 offs a month, which
was a luxury that journalists in other papers could not
dream of.

The first thing that struck one about the
English-language Press in Goa in those days was its
utter lack of respect for the readers' intelligence.
I'm sorry if this view offends anyone, but the
small-town mentality, the self-serious posturing and
the patronising editorialisation of news reports were
all too obvious in both the NT and Herald.

But there ended the similarity. In other respects, the
two papers were a study in contrast. Herald was
technologically superior. Having introduced computers
ahead of the NT, its printing was neater but the paper
was replete with errors -- typographical as well as
factual. The NT too had its share of typos. But it made
few factual errors, because, as critics would say, it
seldom reported facts!

The NT used vintage Lino machines for composing and its
antiquated printing machine broke down quite often. The
morning paper hit the news-stands well after 10 am on
such occasions. The printing was awful -- full of black
patches, missing letters and blank spaces that
challenged the imagination of the reader. Still it
retained its readership, mainly because it was
perceived as the more credible of the two.

Rajan Narayan failed to rise to the occasion and offer
a credible alternative. Herald behaved like a spoilt
brat throwing tantrums. It lacked a sense of
proportion. Too often, it played to the gallery, fanned
sectarian passions and threw norms to the wind. With
its rabble-rousing shrillness, Herald managed to gain a
foothold among a section of the Goan population,
especially in South Goa where the NT was perennially
late to arrive. But Herald was not taken seriously even
by its ardent supporters. Journalist Devika Sequeira
once summed up the situation neatly: Herald was
laughable and the NT evoked tears!

All that changed with the arrival of the Gomantak Times
. The NT Chief Reporter Pramod Khandeparker quit to
join the GT. The NT was jolted out of its complacency
-- it was facing a challenge it had never faced before.
Work on the new building was speeded up, and the
relocation carried out in a hurry. Computers were
installed and a new printing machine was ready.

But all that was not enough to ward off a threat from
the rivals. Its content had to improve. Acting Editor
M.M. Mudaliar was in a bad mood. His calm and composed
disposition gave way to a brittle temper. He yelled at
the management people, and threatened to have the
editorial staff sacked.

One day, I diffidently approached him with a piece of
writing and asked for permission to launch a column in
the Sunday supplement. He was reluctant. I was new and
untested. And I was not even a regular -- I was on
voucher payment. But he decided to give it a try and
carried the piece on the front page of the Sunday
Magazine. It was titled 'A peep into Goan psyche'. The
column was called 'Small Talk' and it appeared under
the pseudonym of R.K. Yen. The response to the first
piece was incredibly good. Mudaliar readily published
the second one and, when the third piece appeared, I
got the appointment order.

By then Mudaliar had been confirmed as Editor and the
paper was ready to face the world with new vigour. The
editorial offs were curtailed to once a week. The
printing improved and new features and columns were
gradually introduced. The NT had arrived. The threat
from GT looked feeble now. They had good journalists
and better technology, but had forgotten to hire good
proof-readers. The paper was full of typos, even in
headlines.

The NT was relieved -- at least temporarily.

The arrival of GT had a big impact on the Herald too.
Rajan Narayan began to behave like one possessed. He
blamed Chief Minister Pratapsing Rane and the NT for
all the ills of the world. His frustration was
beginning to show. He railed against the NT and Rane at
the drop of a hat. Once, two people were killed in
police-firing in Vasco following a group clash. It was
the lead in the next day's NT, but the Herald
completely missed the news.

A reader's letter was published in Herald a few days
later: "Where was your reporter when the firing took
place in Vasco? Had he gone to Baina for a quickie?"
The Editor's reply: "We don't enjoy the patronage of
Chief Minister Pratapsing Raoji Rane. So we missed the news."
 (As if Rane had called in the NT and given out the news!)

Rajan Narayan is essentially a rhetorician. He has a
way with words and can argue his case convincingly. But
his writings carried little conviction, which was the
major reason for Herald's credibility crisis in those
days. But the fact that he changed the media scene
there cannot be disputed. In my view, the fundamental
error he made was to plunge into the middle of things,
rather than remaining a level-headed observer that a
good journalist is supposed to be. He made an
over-zealous effort to ingratiate himself with a
section of the Goan society and failed miserably. The
fact that even today his Goan credentials are
questioned bears this out.

As everything has two sides, the Herald experiment (if
one could call it that) too had its pros and cons. The
single most significant achievement of Herald, in my
opinion, was to raise a breed of bright young
journalists who cut their teeth in journalism there.
Most of them left disillusioned and bitter with the
paper and its Editor, but they have done reasonably
well elsewhere. But for Herald, they would not have
come to this field.

And Herald did manage to provide some relief (comic
relief, according to critics) from the tedious fare
offered by the NT. It was sharp and pungent -- too
pungent for many. Almost every report packed a sting in
its tail. Some of the fare dished out in the guise of
investigative journalism was just gossip laced with
outrageous bias. But all this lighted the scene up and
served as a reminder to the NT to wake up and take notice.

Rajan Narayan never hesitated to name his rivals,
especially the NT, while making disparaging remarks.
The NT, on the other hand, took a diametrically
opposite stance: it skirted controversies altogether.
Its unwritten policy was never to report or comment on
anything controversial, let alone naming names!

But that had to change to keep pace with the changing
times. I lampooned Rajan Narayan in my columns
occasionally, which Mudaliar permitted reluctantly. It
must be said to Rajan Narayan's credit that he not only
took my pot-shots in good humour, but, according to
Herald sources, also stopped a couple of juniors who
wanted to hit back at me.

I met Rajan Narayan only once; but then it was hardly a
meeting. Rather, I saw him from a distance at a
midnight carnival in Panjim. After the edition was
over, my NT colleague Anthony and I decided to take a
round. We saw Rajan Narayan surrounded by a group of
revellers. In a red T-shirt and bermudas, with a red
ribbon around his head and a glass of feni in hand, a
wobbly Rajan Narayan with bleary eyes was quite a
spectacle. Anthony nudged me and asked, "Can you
imagine Mudaliar in such a scene?"

Never. Mudaliar was, by comparison, dapper. In fact,
his first advice to me when I called on him for a job
interview was to be always mindful of my reputation.
"It's a small place. Everybody knows everybody. And
liquor is cheap here," he had said.

I left Goa rather bitterly.

I fell out with Mudaliar over an innocuous remark in my
column. I used to report the traditional cricket match
between the legislators and journalists in the column
in a running commentary form. That year (1989), the
Legislators XI led by Chief Minister Rane trounced the
Press XI, led by Mudaliar. I made a passing remark that
age was apparently catching up with Mudaliar. He deemed
it too personal, and stopped talking to me. There were
enough people around to fan the fire; and he refused to
recommend me for a promotion. One thing led to another
and I soon decided that my future lay elsewhere.

But I've no hard feelings about anything now. In fact,
I recall my days in Goa with nostalgia and gratitude.
It was a turning point in my career and I fondly
remember my association with a wonderful people. I
learned many things in Goa that stood me in good stead
in later life and it will always remain etched in my
memory as a part of my youth.

I wish all my friends and acquaintances over there,
especially Rajan Narayan, good health and success in
whatever they are engaged in now! I learnt of
Mudaliar's death quite recently through an e-mail. I
was saddened. I fondly recall my association with him.
Despite the differences of opinion that resulted in our
parting of ways, Mudaliar was a thorough gentleman and
working with him was an enriching experience. I cherish
his memories!


Chapter 6:
oHERALDo: an untold chapter

Valmiki FaleiroValmiki Faleiro, a Goa-based working journalist between
1975-83, covered Goa for national publications like The
Current Weekly, the Free Press Journal group and the
Indian Express. He was Staff Reporter with the West
Coast Times and as a freelancer, contributed to various
journals like The Navhind Times, Goa Today, The Sun
Weekly, Newstrek, Detective Digest, Mirror, Newsmag.

The early 1980s. Happy days were here again for Goa's
first English-language daily, The Navhind Times (NT).
After a brief challenge to its other crucial attribute,
that of being the only English-language daily, from Goa Monitor
 in the late 1960s, NT had just staved off another.
West Coast Times, launched July-1978, blazed a luminous
trail in quality journalism but, like a comet after a
brief showing, vanished into oblivion.

NT was back to its snug-seat monopoly.

A slave of the economic thought of Adam Smith, David
Ricardo and John Stuart Mill, or our own Nani
Palkhivala, JRD Tata and M.R. Pai, I have been a votary
of free enterprise and competition -- and allergic to
monopolies. A monopoly is bad for any consumer. And
infinitely worse in a crucial commodity that helps form
a society's opinion.

I had been speaking to some wealthier Goans, my idea of
launching a broadsheet weekly, which would, over a
period, be converted to a full-fledged daily. A tabloid
(like Goa Monitor) did not appeal; and mere excellence
in editorial content and quality printing (like West
Coast Times) did not suffice. What mattered was the
capacity to financially sustain a daily newspaper (by
absorbing annual losses even while continuing to
maintain quality) until the product turned round, which
could take some years. That kind of money in Goa only mineowners
 had -- like all of Goa's major dailies! So my idea was
start small, stay around till you built adequate
advertising recognition and support, and only then
convert to a daily -- at a fraction of a daily's
budgetary requirement and without having to own
printing facilities from day one.

Even then, not many Goan businessmen I was in touch
with were willing to risk any substantial venture capital.

It was around this time, June 1983, if I recall the
month correctly, that a mutual friend in the printing
business in Mumbai and Goa, told me that A.C. Fernandes,
Patrao of the Panjim stationers Casa J.D. Fernandes,
was toying with the idea of an English-language daily.
The mutual friend suggested I discuss my ideas with Fernandes.

A.C. Fernandes wasn't a mineowner, not yet anyway, but
I had heard he was a shrewd businessman. He purchased
Goa's only extant Portuguese-language daily, O Heraldo,
not so much for love of the language or its dwindling
local readership, but evidently for the intrinsic value
of its press and its centrally-located premises. It was
said he took full advantage of the daily's lable, in
those days of the Permit Raj, to import (from Italy?) a
Lino typesetting machine, which actually was used for
all and sundry job works of the business house -- even
as the major part of good ole O Heraldo continued to be composed
 by hand!

But what the heck! A shrewd and street-smart man, I
reckoned, would any day be better than a cash-filled
dumbo. Moreover, what Patrao may have lacked by way of
adequate resources was made up in having his priorities
right. His love Goa and her way of life, his concern
about increasing corruption in Goa's polity and
aspiration for rightful honour to the mother tongue,
were transparently genuine.

The mutual friend arranged our introductory meeting,
over lunch at the A.C. Fernandes residence at Santa Cruz
 one rainy Sunday. The sharp-eyed (and, as I was later
to discover, sharp-tempered) Patrao, his demure wife
and sons, John, Raul and Oswald, with the mutual friend
and I sat across a carefully laid table. I spoke about
WCT and why it failed, my ideas for a successful daily
and my business plan for such a venture. A.C. Fernandes
(the sons, those days, played second fiddle), I think,
was impressed. And thus began a relationship, where I
did my best to midwife a second English-language daily
for Goa -- or almost.

The search was on for an Editor. Ads had been placed in
the major national dailies. Surprisingly, about a dozen
pros were willing to come to Goa! But the best were out
of reckoning, they expected salaries the kind Patrao
never figured existed! Ervelle Menezes was the best
bet. When I covered Goa for the Indian Express a couple
of years before, Ervelle was a Chief Sub at IE's Mumbai
edition. After Bhat, the then News Editor, died in
harness, Ervelle had taken over as the News Editor and
was in that position at this point of time.

From deep within, I hoped that Ervelle it would be to
launch the Herald as its founding editor. A
professional and a Goan, he was a suitable choice. For
me too: I had been, by now, ordained to be the to-be
newspaper's Chief Reporter, on insistence of A.C. Fernandes
 and his son Raul. My own plan had been to be with them
till the day the newspaper took off; I was, by this
time, already getting into business, developing
family-owned land at Fatorda, Margao.

I never met or spoke to Ervelle about this job. Raul
had, and I gathered that Ervelle was indeed interested.
I was aware that he had come to Goa to check things
out. Ervelle, of course, is around and it would be for
him to say why he declined. What I surmised at that
time, though, was that Ervelle must have been put off
by local opinion about A.C. Fernandes' financial
capacity to sustain a daily newspaper to the stage it
generated its own resources. Ervelle of course
explained it had something to do with his mother's illness.

Ervelle's decision was a great setback to the plan --
there was just one last application left in Raul's file
of responses for the Editor's post. If I had not urged
its consideration earlier, it was because the applicant
lacked experience with a daily newspaper. The
applicant's only exposure to a daily was a brief stint
at the Financial Express -- not a mainstream newspaper.
His c.v. spoke of experience at Mirror. But then,
magazine journalism is not the same as what goes into
the making of a daily newspaper. Moreover, the
applicant wasn't even into journalism for quite some
time: he presently dwelt in the dreary world of
advertising and public relations, at one of Mumbai's
lesser-known firms. Such was the irony.

What the NT had been to Goa's English readers, a
Hobson's choice, Rajan Narayan's application now was to
Raul and me!

Fearing that Patrao may get discouraged enough to
abandon the newspaper idea, my airflow changed and I
convinced A.C. Fernandes that we invite the man and
take a closer look at his credentials. Rajan was lodged
at Panjim's Hotel Mandovi (I wonder if he ever stayed
there again, used as in later years he was to offered
or obtained five-star hospitality across Goa's coast!)
Patrao, Raul and I met him. The parleys went so long in
the afternoon that there was no restaurant open for
lunch. Rajan and I had to make do with puri bhaji at
Cafe Real (I wonder, again, how he'd have raved and
ranted in his latter-day popular Sunday column, Stray Thoughts
. But beggars were not choosers, those days.)

To me, Rajan came out as a clever and crafty mind. But
again, what the heck! At that point of time, the NT had
a clever and resourceful skipper at its helm. I had
known Bikram Vohra from my days at the Indian Express.
When marched to Ahmedabad as Resident Editor of the
IE's local edition, to fend off competition from the
formidable Times of India, one could count on Bikram to
come up with extremely off-beat ideas: he painted the
town red with the slogan, Keen ahead of the times, read
the Express! To compete, we would need a crafty mind
and I though Rajan fitted that bill pretty well. From
me, Rajan wanted to learn more about Goa --- its
history, economy, religions, cultural mix the
background of its English-language press and, of
course, of the A.C. Fernandes clan.

Rajan was obviously impressed with my views on how the
newspaper should be. He said he was immensely happy to
have me around, that things would be difficult talking
to A.C. Fernandes and Raul alone. He was also glad I
would be the newspaper's Chief Staff Reporter. He
pleaded that I stay back in Panjim that day, so we
could discuss in greater detail. The kid that Raul then
was, also decided to stay back. We sat in Rajan's
Mandovi room, drinking his favourite Old Monk (not
Raul, then a teetotaler, I don't know if he's still one.)

We were immersed in plans and strategy, more than in
the rum.

It was well past 9 p.m. and there was a knock on the
door. Being closer, I rose to answer, but obsequious as
Raul was, insisted on doing that himself. Raul had
barely opened the door when we heard the sonics of a
resounding slap across the face. A furious A.C.
Fernandes hollered, "Mama and I were so worried about
you." (It seems those days the Fernandes household was
being terrorized by another Fernandes household in the
Santa Cruz neighbourhood, so much that no member of the
former went home unaccompanied after dusk; if late, a
group of employees from the shop or press escorted them
home.) That was among Rajan's first personal
impressions of his future employers!

Twenty years is a long enough span for perceptions to
change. But I believe my opinion carried the weight of
near finality with the Patrao. Rajan Narayan would edit
the to-be Herald.

Next morning, we met with the Fernandes, again to work
out a blueprint for the newspaper's editorial
requirements, right down to a list of furniture! From
the way bare essentials were being economized, Rajan
privately kept asking me whether these guys could
really run a newspaper. I kept assuring him they would.
We agreed that together we would keep prodding them if
they wavered. On the way back to the hotel (he was
returning to Mumbai that day), Rajan said I was the
only person he could trust and would I please mail him
on a weekly basis on the progress of implementation of
the agreed blueprint.

This was essential, he explained, because as discussed
and agreed, he would be asking some friends in Mumbai
to quit their secure jobs to join the Herald and he
didn't want to put people in trouble if the paper was,
after all, not going to take off. During the period to
the run up, I wrote and kept Rajan informed of the
progress and, in reply, he kept reminding me to press
the management on the tasks that remained unfulfilled.
Quite a balancing act, for me!

In the course of such weekly back and forth postal
exchanges, Rajan asked for my reiteration that I would
stand with them as one -- if ever the management acted
funny with any of them in future. I presumed he was
concerned with risking his Mumbai team's future. I had
mentioned to Rajan earlier in Goa how the entire
well-knit editorial team at WCT had quit en bloc in the
face of a stubborn management vis-a-vis the workers'
strike. Till now, I had no reason whatever to doubt the
man's integrity. I wrote back, naively in retrospect,
that I was committed to being one with the team and
should one be touched, all would go -- or something to
that effect.

Rajan obviously didn't throw away that letter, as I had
routinely done his.

In time, Rajan returned to Goa -- bag and baggage. His
Mumbai team was to follow once we were staffed and
ready to run dummies. At the wooden-floored 1st storey
Herald office opposite Panjim's Municipal Garden, work
was on at a feverish pace. Rajan and I conducted
interviews for 'subs', reporters and correspondents. We
bagged some gifted hands -- Frederick Noronha, Bosco
Souza Eremita.

On the field, Devika Sequeira was to assist me with
Mumbai's Sushil Silvano on the local crime beat,
together with school chum Nelson Fernandes to cover
sports and Lui Godinho on the camera. I roped in some
old field hands from my WCT days, down to the last
detail of Nandu Zambaulikar, to ferry newspaper bundles
south of the Zuari!

Ticker lines were installed, typewriters and telephones
put in place, and the Mumbai team arrived (I recall
only S. Vaidyanathan on the newsdesk, though). The
machine, finally, began to crank. It was decided we
give readers a preview. One Sunday (or was it another
public holiday?), a few weeks ahead of the formal
launch on October 10, 1983, a special edition was given
out gratis to English-language newspaper readers in
Goa. The edition was packed with features, and news of
the day. I wrote something on bus transport woes of the
Goan commuter, if I recall right.

Dummies began rolling. Agonizingly, I began to see the
penny-wise-pound-foolish dictum again at work (as I
had, in the later stages, of WCT's short life.)
Expensive computers had been brought in but A.C. Fernandes
 cribbed on appointing experienced hands as
compositors. A daughter-in-law came in after her own
regular office hours to help at computer keyboards.
John's wife worked late into the nights.

Result was a delightful melange of howlers -- which
continued for a good while after launch of the
newspaper. Every expense, however trivial, had to get
Patrao's direct approval. If Rajan wanted a chair
cushion, he'd have to convince the old man why his
posterior ached! But the good news was, the rumble and
stumble continued without interruption. We were close
to D-day.

That was when one fine sunny morning, as I was about to
cross from the Panjim Municipal Garden pavement to the
Herald office across the street, Raul emerged from the
stationery shop, as if casually, and waved me to hold
back. He crossed the street and invited me for a cup of
tea at a nearby cafe at Jesuit House, Jasmal or Jesema.
Once seated, Raul developed an unusual countenance and
began vaguely referring to the salary that had been
offered to me (Rs.4,000 per mensem.) I imagined there
must have been a family council the previous night. I
reminded him that I had not asked the figure, that I
had merely accepted what was offered -- and that I was
with them in this not for the money, but for a dream to
break a monopoly. I suggested the figure could be revised.

That's when the bombshell broke. "It's not about the
amount of salary," Raul stated, "it's..."

"You mean I'm not wanted here anymore?" I butted in, in
disbelief. "You can take it as something like that,"
Raul said. I was too shocked to even ask why. Having
known Rajan fairly well by now, I instinctively felt
his hand in this. Didn't even feel like meeting the
others at the office or the Patrao at the shop
downstairs. Over the previous several months, I had
worked to virtually midwife the Herald and however much
I may have been, I did not wish to upset the scene when
the baby's umbilical cord was about to go.

I just took the next bus home.

And on that very unpleasant note ended my brief
association with a newspaper that over the last 20
years, tottered, steadied and thrived -- even if in
large measure on the guile and brilliance of one crafty
man, Rajan Narayan.

Without doubt, the oHeraldo marked a new chapter in
English-language journalism in Goa. A lot of latent
young talent found expression. Investigative journalism
got its fair image. Above all, the average Goan reader
now had a choice, and the inherent benefits of
competition. Happily for Goa, the combination at the
right time of the Proprietors and of Rajan Narayan and
some excellent members in the editorial team, clicked.
Despite shoestring budgets and lack of official
advertising patronage in the initial years, the
newspaper survived, cracked a monopoly in a vital area,
and will now shortly enter its 21st year of publication.

I lived and worked in Goa (for myself, of course!)
during these 20 years and saw the manner in which this
one man notched circulation and endeared himself to the
average English-language newspaper reader, especially
of the minority community. Rajan, a crafty
non-practicing politico, in no time had comprehended
the Goan mindset, particularly of the Cristao, as he is
fond of referring.

And the brightest star in his horoscope also arrived in
good time, in the form of the Konkani official language issue.

While other editors dithered, Rajan lost no time in
recognizing the scope of the issue (he had the genuine
backing of his Patrao of course) and almost went
overboard with his undying love for Konkani, Goa and
Cristaos liberally splashed all over the place, for
months without end. With a 'sympathy and empathy' never
before seen, the Mai Bhas formula worked magic for
Rajan -- as it did, I must concede in fairness, to a
couple of other politicos, some with a degree of merit,
like Luizinho (my namesake) and Churchill Alemao. The
true heroes, however, have almost been forgotten!

In fairness, again, it must be conceded that to have
run a newspaper with all of Herald's infrastructural
deficiencies, was no mean feat. There must have been,
in the initial stages, a lot of pain and personal
sacrifice -- but let's also not forget that Rajan was,
those days, without the responsibilities of a family
and with only a pint of Old Monk for company, and the
option to return to Mumbai's drab world of advertising!
He slogged, manipulated, and was rewarded with success.

What, however, happened after such undreamt success hit
the head sooner than Old Monk did, is a story I must
leave best to be told by many a gifted journalist, who
worked with Rajan. At least one such is alas no more in
our midst -- Norman Dantas, son of a former
publisher-partner of Goa Today. Rajan marginalized many
a gifted Goan journo because he perceived them as
threats to his position!

Back to my 1983 story.

It was some seven or eight months after that
uncivilized Cafe Jesema or Jesmal episode that the
mutual friend who had introduced me to the Fernandes
revealed the truth. Rajan Narayan, my trusted senior
colleague, days before the oHeraldo could hit the
newsstands, showed my letter to him on the editorial
team standing as one -- and quitting as one if need
arose -- and convinced the Patrao that here was a snake
already scheming to kill the newspaper before it was
even born! How the intrinsic illogic of this premise --
since the Fernandeses were well aware of my commitment
to the newspaper -- did not strike them, I shall never
know. Rajan had successfully weeded out what he
imagined would be future threat to his position (in
this case, entirely imaginary, since he at the time
knew that I was sooner or later getting into my own
business).

That was the first case. Many were to follow.

Other than weeding out rivals -- real or imagined --
Rajan is believed to have done some pretty nasty things
on the side. He played his reporters one against the
other, to fetch desired coverage of stories that suited
him the most. He is alleged to have killed many a good
story. And all this from behind the mask of being the
self-appointed keeper of Goa's conscience and probity
in her public life. The powerful Stray Thoughts (which,
incidentally, started off with Bolshoi the dog,
borrowed from the celebrated ToI columnist and later
owner/editor of Mumbai's Afternoon Despatch & Courier,
Behram Contractor a.k.a. Busybee) came in handy here. I
know the legion of Goa's five-star hotel GMs,
practicing and aspiring politicos, or even the
occasional industrialist locally mired in controversy
(like Dr. Jindal, of Meta Strips, the day after some
crude bombs went off at Vasco's St. Andrew's Church)
will not publicly admit the manner in which they rubbed
shoulders with St. Rajan!

I hear that the editor who brought a refreshing change
to the English-language print scene in Goa, has finally
been paid in the same coin he had paid many a
subordinate -- by making the subordinate's life so
miserable that there was no option but to resign.
Having known Rajan Narayan the way I did 20 years ago,
I have my doubts whether he will leave on his own. Of
course, he has already announced plans to publish a
weekly in Goa -- owned by the readers!! He knows the
Goan mindset all too well, and has already started
drumming up support via the Herald editorial columns
with typical (even if more virulent) anti-Hindutva,
pro-Cristao/Church writings that may border on the dangerous.

Of course, if and when Rajan Narayan does launch his
weekly, he will be infinitely better placed than the
Patrao, A.C. Fernandes was in the monsoon 1983. Let's
wish him luck!


Chapter 7:
The banyan tree: working under Rajan

Frederick NoronhaFrederick Noronha was part of the original batch of
trainees with the Herald during its re-launch in 1983.
In 1987, he became Goa correspondent for the Deccan
Herald. Since 1995, he has been a full-time freelance
journalist, writing mainly for the outstation media,
including the Indo-Asian News Service. He has an active
presence on the Internet, and has been for journalism
training to Germany and Sweden. He is founder of the
Goajourno, India-EJ and ThirdWorld-EJ mailing lists,
that seek to build collaborative networks among
journalists.

Reports or features critical of large companies are to
be avoided by and large. No report on a corporate
situation, however much it may be considered in the
public interest, shall be sent to the press without
prior clearance from the editor. We cannot afford to
antagonise potential advertisers. -- Editorial
guidelines, from Rajan Narayan, May 3, 1984.

Denying journalists the right to express his or her
views is like denying oxygen to a human being. -- Stray
Thoughts, by Rajan Narayan, September 2003, www.rajannarayan.com

AN ACTIVIST friend argues vehemently that this editor
single-handedly opens up space more than any other in
Goa. Some staff who worked under him have a sneering
you-don't-know-the-inside-story attitude. Others credit
the man with making them what they are. For the average
Goan Catholic, Rajan Narayan is virtually a hero in
real life, if not the newspaper equivalent of a patron saint.

Undeniably, this is the man who has shaped Goan
journalism for at least two decades, and has big plans
for more. Any venture to understand the contemporary
media in this small state would be incomplete without a
chapter on Rajan Narayan, who at the time of writing
(end-September 2003) has just announced his decision to
resign from the Herald.

This writer epitomises the love-hate relationship many
a journalist in Goa would share with someone who
suddenly descended on the Goan scene sometime in 1983.
Someone who has critically shaped the understanding of
Goa, including how we see ourselves and what are the
issues we define as important.

Clearly, Rajan -- by design or default -- has
contributed in significant manner to the Goa debate
over the past two decades. If one has to name the five
positive aspects of his legacy, it would be his ability
to extend the debate (by saying things no editor would
say); heading an organisation that, by design or
otherwise, actually gave a chance to many youngsters to
enter the profession; building up a till-now
sustainable alternative to the once arrogant lone
English-language daily in the state; giving space for
speedy growth to youngsters entering the profession
(even if, ironically, blocking that very growth later
on); and for taking on some of Goa's most sacred of cows.

But Rajan's ability to cast himself in the
'anti-Establishment' mould is equalled by his skills in
brokering deals (the recent track of contentious and
fast-confused charges over the Rs 300,000 government
sponsorship of the SARS campaign at Remo Fernandes'
50th birthday is a case in point, as are the
willingness to propose projects to a government that
are otherwise blasted from the editorial pulpit). This
rather personalised essay, obviously biased and clouded
by a string of personal experiences, seeks to narrate
one person's run-ins into Goa's most long-serving
editor. Perhaps from it could emerge a few snapshots
outlining how things really work in the Goa media.

ONE'S FIRST impressions of Rajan was meeting up with a
long-sleeve and tie-clad middle-aged 'uncle' during an
interview a month or two before the launch of the
English-language Herald in 1983. The location was in
the old balcony (now demolished) that stood almost over
today's Cafe Shanbhag, near the Panjim Municipal
Garden. Besides Rajan, also sitting in on the interview
was Valmiki Faleiro, who was egged on by the recent
public debate to tell his side of the story in another
chapter. (Devika Sequeira, then still in her 'twenties
but quite in command of the situation, willing to spend
extremely long hours and clear about what she expected
to bring out a thoroughly-worked on feature page or
front-page report as we later saw, had interviewed me
in an earlier round. Being quite thick-skinned, one
went in once again for another interview when
advertised subsequently, only to be told that it was
just as well one had returned, as the earlier
applications had got misplaced!)

In the second round of interviews, my first encounter
with Rajan, it took this then raw third-year college
kid quite some to gauge some clues about the identity
of this man shooting across the questions. Only a
syllable or two gave hint of his South Indian origins,
and with his formal clothes, he could have easily
passed off as a scion of a landed Goan family. Rajan
did seem a bit embarassed to make the offer of Rs 300
as the payment for a trainee sub-editor. But money
didn't matter, and the joy of becoming a journalist
while still in college more than sufficed. In any case,
this princely sum was thrice what one then irregularly
earned as an articled clerk to a chartered accountant.
This offer was made on the spot, and accepted as instantenously.

In no time, we got that that telegram calling on us to
join 'immediately'.

One recalls rushing into the colonial styled offices of
what was to become the Herald -- we then didn't even
know what the paper was to be called, whether it would
survive, who owned it, or whom we were working for.
Within minutes of each other, Bosco Souza Eremita of
Santa Cruz, Flavio Raposo of Carenzalem, Oswald Pinto
of Aldona and myself took up our seats on the bare
sub-editor's table, learning the basics of a profession
that some continued in. Bosco seemed to be
disillusioned that journalism offered so little scope
for creative writing; but he stayed on and worked his
way through Goa Today, Gomantak Times, the Portuguese
Lusa news agency, and the Jesuit-run UCAN, apart from
The Week and others publications. Flavio opted for a
life in academics. Oswald Pinto went across from one
form of reporting to another, and stuck with working at
the less-insecure 'reporting' section of the state
legislature. Reminiscing old times still brings back a
smile. We remain friends.

But this was not always the situation. You could argue
whether it's a Rajan-influenced legacy, but at our time
the staff would often be at loggerheads with one
another. It could have just been a faulty manner of
encouraging subordinates to improve in their
performance, but promises of promotions to more than
one candidate, and repeated if unfair comparisons with
one another, sometimes did leave strained relationships
among the staff that otherwise worked together fairly peacefully.

But there were the plusses for working in a fresh new
paper too. In the initial days, Rajan was almost a
godfather. "How much are the $%#@$%s paying you?" he
would sometimes ask juniors. Often, a recommendation
from him actually got translated into a raise.

He had his style of encouraging juniors. This, coupled
with the acute staff shortage at the Herald then and
frequent resignations from staff, meant a junior
sub-editor could get enough of an ego-boost to do the
front-page layout within a year or so of joining!

Talking about resignations, in the first four years of
its operation, the Rajan-edited Herald listings showed
that at least 30 journalists had left its rolls. Part
of this could have been due to the poor and
unsatisfactory compensation offered by a paper with
drew an infinitesimally tiny number of adverts compared
to today. Some left for better prospects; but
opportunities were few and far between anyway, then as
now. A few went on to continue their education; Alvis Fernandes,
one of the young men recruited through the informal
Miramar boys' network that proved to be a useful feeder
channel, was halfway through aeronautical engineering
anyway. But at least part of the resignations were
accounted for by the intrigue that dominated the place,
the growing curbs on free expression that could keep
the spark of idealism alive and politics enkindled
among the staff.

Among those who quit in the first four years were
Sushil Silvano (Deputy Editor), S. Vaidyanathan (News
Editor), Devika Sequeira (Assistant Editor/Chief
Reporter), Oswald Pinto, Bosco Souza Eremita, Flavio Raposo,
myself, Alvis Fernandes, Edward Rodrigues, Lovino Gomes,
George, Francis Ribeiro, Elston Soares, Lionel Lynn Fernandes,
Derek Almeida, the brothers Francis and Agnel Fernandes,
Goldwyn Figueira, Agnel Rodrigues (sub-editors/chief
sub editors), Perves De Souza, Cherryl DeSouza, Anna Mendes,
Valentino Fernandes, Armenia Fernandes, Sharmila Kamat,
Babacier Gonsalves (all reporters), Alexyz Fernandes
(cartoonist), Lui Godinho and Menino Afonso
(photographers), the other Francis Ribeiro and John Aguiar
 among others (correspondents) and trainees including Sinha,
and Shanti Maria, now an advocate in Panjim. This
list would obviously be incomplete, having missed out
some names.

In 1987-88, at the time of the launch of the Gomantak Times,
a number of journalists left hoping for a better work
environment. At that time, when asked for his comment,
Rajan told the Goa Today something to the effect that
the paper he was editor was "better off after the
opportunistic and mercenary people have left us" for
jobs elsewhere.

Grabbing an opportunity to to claim our right to reply,
four of us who had just left took the opportunity to
make a point. The anger and irritation felt at that
time comes out in the note then written, to which the
signatories were myself (listing the donkey first, so
as not to deny the fact that one felt strongly about
this then as now), Armenia Fernandes, Valentino
Fernandes, and Francis Ribeiro. It's worth recalling,
to put the issue in context:

"Since October 1987 (that is, till mid-February 1988),
one chief sub-editor, one sports sub-editor, two
reporters, a cartoonist and a correspondent resigned
from the Herald. Instead of deceiving oneself by
calling these people 'opportunistic and mercenary', it
would be more profitable for Mr Narayan to be honest --
at least to himself -- over why such a number of
journalists resigned from the paper.

May we point out that under Mr Narayan's stewardship
itself, not a single journalist involved in launching
the English-language Herald a little over four years
ago is still with the paper today, except for Mr
Narayan himself.

And, would Mr Narayan care to explain why it is only in
his paper that 'opportunistic and mercenary people'
(including us, by his definition) are found in such
large numbers when it comes to looking for jobs elsewhere?

To us who know, Mr Narayan is hardly convincing when he
says that 'some junior people may have left' but
Herald's 'top is still intact'. It calls for deep
soul-searching on the part of Mr Narayan to find out
why scores of journalists have resigned from the Herald
since October 10, 1983 -- the date which the paper was
launched...

ON THE FLIP side, Rajan -- at least in his early phase
-- had the ability of encouraging his staff. After a
great job done in covering the Commonwealth Retreat,
the reward was not just a good word but also a meal at
the nearby Hotel Aroma. (For the CHOGM, Devika Sequeira
and Lui Godinho sneaked into the area, and anyone would
have thought they were just a couple of Indian
tourists; Perviz teamed up with Rajan himself to chase
the then-admired now-infamous Robert Mugabe to a church
in Chimbel where the once-charismatic leader had gone
to trace his ancestors from an empire that once ruled
central Africa and part of current-day Zimbabwe. S Vaidyanathan,
the former Financial Express chief-sub who's role in
stabilising the Herald desk often goes largely
unmentioned today, did his usual thorough job on the
desk, and we trainees simply joined in the fun with our
prank calls what not.)

Rajan can also be an ideal boss, if he so chooses and
if he trusts your work. Of course, it can also be
difficult to fathom the logic on which this trust is
based, in an editor who has strong, if unexplained,
likes and dislikes. But his you-manage-things attitude
did occasionally help. At one point, we convinced Rajan
that the long and difficult night-shifts of those days
were stressful, and asked for a five-nights, three-day
schedule. This meant that we got two off-days in every
ten days, or six in a month. Rajan's response was
something to the effect that this was fine, provided we
at the news-desk managed things among ourselves and
didn't then make a case for more staff. We did. It
worked. Any desk-man taking off during the crucial
night-shift, made sure to get in a mutual replacement.
In a word, this system probably worked better than
system of policing shifts. The point here is that if he
so chooses, Rajan's style of avoiding micro-controls
could actually make for a workable management strategy.

But this phase seems to have ended nearly exactly one
year after the launch of the English-language Herald,
when the staff got the drift their their editor was
unable or unwilling to take their issues into account,
and almost all jointly formed a union. When Rajan
learnt of this, his reaction was one of a man betrayed.

Part of the problem could have been that Rajan also
perceived the insecurity of his tenure. One got the
feeling that the paper was not being improved beyond a
point, as this could make those at the editorial top dispensable.

Over the next few years, the fetters started coming on.
Rather quickly. To the staff, it was pretty clear who
Rajan's own sacred cows were, even if the editor
posited himself as the paragon of a free press. From
industrial groups lacking their own mouthpiece in
print, to some of the dissidents then harassing the man
whom Rajan got into mutually-arrogant ego-clashes with,
Pratapsing Raoji Rane.

Rajan also had a perchance to hob-nob with politicians.
One of our colleagues always attributes his survival in
journalism to then political bigwig Dr Wilfred de Souza
. How so? Obviously Rajan had flung across a copy to
the sub concerned with a 'Find the mistake in it, or
get sacked' threat. Just that time, Dr W's car pulled
up alongside the newspaper entrance. Rajan was gone,
and so vanished the threat of a loss of the job.

(As anyone who worked on the desk would concede,
finding errors on paper, when under pressure, can be
the most difficult task. Specially if they are your own
errors. Everything looks correct. This writer too has
made the stupidest of errors, notwithstanding the
reputation of being a fairly careful and concerned
desk-person.)

In our early days at the Herald, some of us
college-kids who were blessed with two-wheelers -- even
if we needed two jobs and a loan to manage these --
doubled up as 'pilots' to the seniors. It came as a
shock to one's post-teenage idealism to hear Rajan
argue after being ferried to a lengthy confabulation
with a Congress dissident: "XYZ is a good politician.
The problem is just that he is so bloody corrupt." Or
words to that effect.

If the early freedom was quick to vanish, it didn't
take much time to realise that every new paper goes
through this honeymoon with truth -- extended only as
long as the time required to build up its credibility.
For the CHOGM, Rajan allowed this writer to report on
protests from a citizens' group concerned about the
pouring of crores down the drain in the name of
building infrastructure. If one recalls right, the
figure was around Rs 50 crore (Rs 500 million), a huge
sum by early 'eighties standards. Another issue that
was a concern then was the manner in which the event
was being used as an excuse by luxury hotels to expand
their properties. At this time, Rajan's diktat was
clear: let the criticism go before the event, but once
the CHOGM Retreat starts, no more of it.

Such attitudes, and this was surely not the only case,
meant the stifling of a crucial voice at an important
time of Goan history. Resultantly, the outstation
media, for instance, didn't get a clue that such
questions were at all being asked in Goan society. When
it comes to recording the history of the 'eighties,
there will likewise be many gaps or black holes... and
many could be led into believing that these events
simply didn't occur.

Rajan's role in the Konkani movement would be another
interesting issue for research. Many a Catholic from
Goa, both here and among the diaspora, tends to read
him as being a "hero for Konkani". (Dr Teotonio De
Souza, historian, commented on Goanet on September 18,
2003: "I have known Rajan Narayan while still in Goa
and admired his contribution to the Konkani cause.")

But the issue is more complex. Needless to say, Goa's
media adopts a dog-does-not-eat-dog approach, and for
most of the time avoids criticising each other. Rajan's
role in the language agitation is yet to be adequately
evaluated. The Week magazine, in an article written by
the journalist Ashok Row Kavi (who went on to become a
prominent gay activist, but that's not particularly
relevant here) did a critical piece on the role played
by Rajan and the other Narayan, Athawale:

It's titled 'The two Narayans' and says:

THE three worlds in Hindu mythology always shuddered
when the chant 'Narayan, Narayan' echoed in the cosmos.
It meant that Narada, the roving rishi, was making his
petty-fogging presence felt.

Goa has two Narayans and there is internal trouble
there. One is Narayan Athavle, editor of the Marathi
daily Gomantak, and the other Rajan Narayan, editor of
O Herald an English daily from Panaji. They are
fighting each other claiming that they are fighting for
two languages, Marathi and Konkani.

Their credentials can be questioned, though no one
bothers to do that. Athavle is an outsider: a
Maharashtrian Chitpawan Brahmin; Rajan Narayan is from
South India and is fighting for Konkani in English.

Athavle's editorials are pure petrol on Goa's red hot
embers. Starting with Ooth Marathe Ooth (Wake up
Marathas, wake up), Athavle, who supports Rane, has
carried on a relentless battle to show that Konkani is
a 'boli' (dialect) and not a 'bhasha' (language).
Athavle has published some 25 eminently forgettable
novels, and has had a lackluster career in Lok Satta,
the Marathi daily of the Express group.

Athavle gets quite alarmed when someone mentions
'Vishal Gomantak' (Greater Goa), which to him means
'expansionism'. But he has no qualms at all when he
says that Goa should finally merge with Maharashtra
because "their cultures are the same".

In his zeal to propagate the interest of Marathi, he
has even neglected the success of his newspaper which
has been falling in circulation. Tarun Bharat,
published from Belgaum in Karnataka, has taken away
6,000 out of the 18,000-odd Gomantak circulation. Yet
Athavle has such a strong grip over the owners, the
Chowgules, that he even overseas recruitment. No
Christians are employed in that daily.

Apart from editing O Heraldo, Rajan Narayan, a former
editor of Imprint, now speaks from political platforms.
Narayan has become more a pamphleteer than a
journalist. He often attends the strategy sessions of
the KPA. He has at times tried to maintain a balance
but has failed because he is viewed suspiciously by the
Hindus and because the Christians patronise him.

Rajan Narayan is a professional doing a job and taken
up with a cause which he would just as well drop like a
hot brick if he got a better challenge somewhere else.
However, the turn he has given to the O Herald has
taken its circulation to 12,000 from the 4,000-odd it
was selling before he took over its editorship. "I
don't make any pretensions that I'm being objective,"
says he. "I'm here to fight for Konkani."

Come what may, the two Narayans, both non-Goans, are
slugging it out through reams of newsprint. And both
are accused of polarising Goa's good people as never
before. (The Week, Jan 18-24, 1987)

The figures noted above of the Herald's circulation
don't seem to be very accurate. It was more like a few
hundred in its Portuguese days -- specially towards the
fag end of playing the role of being the "only
Portuguese language daily published in Asia". But Row
Kavi raises a point long back which probably didn't get
the attention it deserved.

By the time the 1985-87 language agitation was drawing
to a close, this writer was a chief sub-editor at the
Herald. Perhaps the cynical games visible all round
convinced one about not getting caught up in the
meaningless emotionalism that was ruling both
linguistic camps. Basic questions were not being
raised. What primarily was a caste-fuelled was being
fought out along linguistic lines. Many of those who
took up these issues -- as subsequent events showed --
were more keen on cornering a share of the spoils for
themselves and their kin, rather than really empowering
the commonman (and woman) to utilise a language they
could be more at home in. Rajan's own role was critical
in shaping the language issue the way it worked out.
The average Catholic became a hard-core, if later
disillusioned by the subsequent twist of events,
supporter of the Konkani camp, without quite
understanding the unstated issues involved.

On the language front, like many other controversies in
the state, this one too polarised journalists. The
United News of India news agency, though its then Goa
correspondent Jagdish Wagh, then put out a 10-take
article which echoed the Marathi side of the arguments.
Rajan's first response was to dump it in the
waste-paper basket. To one's mind, it made sense that
both 'camps' knew each other's positions on the issue.
Specially because this was one issue where the average
Catholic reader -- who hardly reads Marathi -- was
largely unable to keep abrest with the thoughts of one
side of the debate. To Rajan's credit, he was quick to
accept a suggestion from a junior, and decided that the
article be carried on the edit page. But if one thought
he did this because of the need for a diversity of
voices, that was simply untrue. Some days later, a
gleeful Rajan informed that it was just as well he had
taken up that suggestion, since the UNI write-up had,
in turn, provoked a series of lengthy polemical
responses from the Panjim-based Konkani hardline
supporter Datta Naik written to project the Konkani
cause. It was a point-by-point attempted refutation,
and more. A whole lot of more grist to the linguistic
mill that ultimately served to build circulation,
allowing Rajan to boost his bargaining power on this
basis.

If Rajan played a crucial role in stoking the language
controversy, he was also vital in bringing it to an
abrupt and unexpected end. On the day the language bill
was passed in the Goa assembly, an angry Churchill Alemao
 stomped into the Herald office. He demanded to know
how the screaming headline read something to the
effect: 'Konkani made official language'. Alemao's
criticism (with some validity, even if ironical in the
backdrop of his own exclusivist approach which sought
compltely illegitimise the Marathi demand, in what was
in is more of a caste-defined battle) was that the
headline was not justified when the dialect and script
used by a small minority had been given official acceptance.

Later realties also elaborately demonstrated that the
Rane-Khalap drafted official language bill was
extremely ambivalent, if not wholly unimplementable.
Nobody knows for certain whether Goa has one or two
official languages, or almost-official languages. Each
official purpose for which it is to be used would have
to be specifically notified, leading to further
bickerings. Besides, almost everyone would like to
leave the act unimplemented, since it would open up a
can of worms and endless more problems if anyone went
ahead implementing it. The official invitation cards,
now printed in four languages -- English, Hindi, and
Konkani and Marathi -- are enough of an indication of
what a joke this has become.

Nonetheless, the Konkani experience did not stop Rajan
from subsequently claiming that the paper under his
steering had "demonstrated dramatically its influence
by succeeding to get more than 75,000 people for the
Konkani language". Of this, he tried to make a case for
better terms -- service conditions, allowances and
possibly commissions on advertisements "generated" for
the paper.

EVEN AS HE ANNOUNCED recently his decision to quit the
Herald and launch his own weekend paper, Rajan is back
to donning his role as a 'protector of the minorities'.
But even as he stokes fears here, a genuine question
could be whether this is anything more than a marketing
strategy. His claims of being committed to secularism
could be dismissed by critics as little more than a
cynical strategy of stoking minority fears, to build a
potent constituency, just as some politicians in Goa
have done -- to convert into a permanent votebank of
sorts a large segment of the Catholic electorate. In
July 1987, Rajan told his staff, this writer then being
one of them: "Our basic constituency are the Catholics,
whether we like it or not. So much so, anything on the
Pope or developments in Christianity should be
interesting to our readers."

Rajan was however quick to understand -- unlike most of
the other editors brought into Goa to head papers here,
who sometimes take years just to understand that this
small state doesn't need a scaled-down version of a
national newspaper -- that local news was of vital
importance. To cite a Rajanism, in the form of a blunt
directive to the news-desk: "The Rajya Sabha election
in Goa is of much greater consequence to use than a
peaceful Yath Ratra (sic) in Ahmedabad. In Punjab, for
instance, I do not think we should take cognisance
unless the death toll is above 10." (This was in times
when the Punjab violence was as Kashmir today.)

Rajan was quick to argue that a new paper in Goa should
address those segments which are significant in size.
One can question his obvious strategy of playing on
minority fears and building up a minority psychosis.
Even when viewed from a very narrow sense, this could
be damaging to the interest of the minorities
themselves.

But Rajan's ability to convince the reader still holds.

In September 2003, some Goan expats across cyberspace
were carefully watching the unfolding drama as Rajan
hurriedly launched his http://www.rajannarayan.com
site. Making his an issue of freedom of expression, and
indicting the man who weeks back graced Rajan's
birthday -- Manoharbab Parrikar -- was bound to strike
a chord. Afterall, haven't we in the Press in Goa been
complaining about increasing pressures from the BJP government?

On September 16, 2003, one expat suggested that
"perhaps the only way to overcome the muzzling of the
press is for Non-Resident Goans to fund an alternative
newspaper, where the journalists can do what they do
best without their livelihood being threatened." He
went on to suggest: "Now is the time for Non-Resident Goans
 who care, to come to the assistance of journalists in
Goa. As an alternative, we could support Rajan
Narayan's new venture and give him the freedom to speak
out. Democracy and freedom are at stake in Goa. It is
time for all Goans who love their motherland, to put
their money where their mouths are, and do something
for Goa."

To quite some extent the problem with contemporary
Goa's journalism is governments who don't like
criticism and therefore target certain newspapers or
journalists. But this is not the entire story.
Managements who seek to use their papers to get undue
favours, licences, or whatever are another part of the
problem. So are us journalists who don't carry on our
job neutrally and without quid-pro-quo motives. But the
editors who have long been acting as censors, and
implement the agendas of the first two categories
above, are also part of the problem. Unlike in the
'eighties, you can hardly expect an editor to stand up
for you in today's Goa.

Journalists in Goa are facing a situation where space
to write the truth is increasingly shrinking; and
editors, including Rajan, have also played their role
in making this happen. At another level, the State is
working overtime to incorporate journalists, promote
'friendly' publications and thus indulge in other means
to control opinion. While Rajan Narayan has undeniably
been one editor who was willing to say the things
others were simply not willing to say, this was done
not very consistently. Quite a few who worked under
Rajan would probably have their own story to tell. It
would really help if the average Goan was less gullible
and didn't judge issues along emotional lines alone.

The plus side also needs to be taken into the equation.

It was Rajan who pointed out to the importance of the
readership of government employees and pensioneers; to
the fact that international news needed to be focussed
on countries which Goa had long links with, or had
large Goan expat populations. He told his staff
something that seems to be beyond the comprehension of
many Goan editors: "There is also considerable interest
in Portugal. An election is scheduled in Portugal soon.
Let us keep track of the election and other
developments in Portugal."

(But one should not get misled into thinking that those
working under Rajan always had clear policy guidelines
to work under. Most of our time at least, policies were
based on whims and fancies, to gauge the rationale of
which often left one bewildered.)

He was also among those to try and shift out of the
protocol reporting -- an attitude which says 'this
report has to be there, because it has to be there' --
that journalism in a Navhind-defined Goa was notorious
for.

But then, implementing this vision was a problem. For
one, Rajan himself didn't consistently follow up on it.
Secondly, he didn't seem to believe in having competent
persons around him and preferred to work with someone
who was less likely to pose a challege in the years to
come. In addition, a considerable time was spent in
politcking, both within the organisation and beyond.

Working under Rajan meant coping with the unpredictable.

In many cases, Rajan didn't quite give other
journalists the impression that they were welcome to
contribute to the Herald. (As an aside, one of those
asked to contribute a chapter in this book, a senior
Goan journalist who has written for a number of
national and international publications, misunderstood
that the invite was to write for the Herald. The journo
simply wrote back a two-liner to declining saying that
apart from the lack of time, "Rajan won't accept my
name in his paper.")

In one of my freelance stints there, a curious case
pertained to a curious firm selling matresses at the
price of Rs 60,000 to a 100,000 and more. They claimed
all kinds of near-miraculous properties went along with
the matresses. Concerned citizens drew one's attention
to this issue, and after researching the issue, one
wrote one's report on the issue. Rajan was furious. He
accused this journalist of "not checking the other side
of the story". In reality, the firm refused to let
anyone come to their demos, unless they were duly
introduced by someone already caught in the
costly-matress trap. It later turned out that the
persons running the operations in Goa were linked to
the family of the publisher that brought out a magazine
Rajan had earlier worked for! When this issue was
raised during a recent journalist debate, Rajan
side-stepped it by raising the issue of whether one was
a staffer or freelancer while writing for the paper. He
generally confused the issue in some barely-relevant
detail, ignoring the questions of there was a clash of
interest in his role as editor here, as in many other
issues he has faced questions over.

Perhaps the most curious experience for this writer was
the one related to "Raul Gonsalves".

Sometime in the late 'nineties, a number of prominent
editors in Goa decided to impose a private 'ban' on the
writings of that abrasive but persistent letter-writer M.K.Jos
. Jos had the style of targetting editors and
journalists, which was obviously earning him
influential enemies. One may not be a fan of Jos, but
clearly a blanket ban on an individual is something
very unbecoming of a supposedly democratic society.
This writer's feature, focussing Jos with his plusses
and minuses, appeared in the weekend magazine section
of Herald, then looked after by Ethel da Costa.
Retribution was quick to come. A long piece was
published, in the same columns which this writer was a
contributor to, trying to drag this writer into a
fictitious controversy. It also sought to give a veiled
'warning' that anyone mentioning Jos could himself lend
in trouble. It later emerged that the article itself
was pseudonymously written by the editor of a rival
newspaper, claiming to be 'Raul Gonsalves'. Editorial
staff of the section confirmed that the contentious
article had been published at the behest of Rajan himself.

It could be argued that if Rajan has built a
larger-than-life image of himself, that has been
premises on the blocking out of a generation of young
journalists, whom he himself ironically had a hand in
creating. Today, Rajan's indespensibility to the Herald
stems from both a perception, not wholly true, that he
single-handedly built the paper, and the fact that
virtually nobody else in the organisation has been
trained or encouraged to write editorials.

To some measure, everyone who shares the above grouse
with this writer must be thankful to Rajan. Being
pushed out of local opportunity has helped many to get
access to wider fields. Today, Goan journalists are
employed in a number of places -- scattered across the
Gulf, to Singapore, Australia, Canada and beyond! Even
for those of us opting to remain back home, the hard
work involving in 'proving oneself' has helped to open
up new doors. Had it not been for such 'push' factors,
this writer would have probably been doing a boring job
just as a deputy news editor in some local newspaper.

Working in a Rajan-headed establishment also can cure
you of ambition. It was simply not worth the heart-burn
and infighting to rise to the level of a humble
chief-sub. This has helped convince this writer that
it's probably worth staying a humble correspondent --
possibly even freelance -- the rest of one's career,
rather than succumb to an ambition that takes
bitterness, rancour, cutthroat competition and so much
energy just to get a post in which one has to act more
as politician or manager rather than an effective
journalist?

Needless to say, on the other hand the younger
generation of journalists can indeed learn from some of
Rajan's good points. In many cases -- though not all --
he would be quick to highlight criticism of himself, in
the paper he headed. His ability to bestow confidence
on his juniors helped some to grow. (But, this was upto
a point. Also, his criticism and barrage of memos
seemed to be more linked to whether he liked someone or
not, rather than one's qualities and abilities to put
in hard work as a journalist.)

As for the writer of this chapter, one carried on
writing... and enjoying it immensely. But for most of
the past 20 years, that has been for an audience
largely outside the Herald. By some quirk of fate, one
managed to leave the Herald exactly after four years,
as planned. (Thanks to statehood, the Deccan Herald
decided to have it's first full-time staff
correspondent in Goa. Work on the news-desk was fast
ceasing to be a challenge, and the politics on the job
also made life difficult, even if the team that worked
there had a good team spirit and a youthful have-fun
attitude towards life.) Also, as planned, one put in a
two-line resignation letter.

As anticipated, my absence there was not viewed as a
loss; anyone who stayed on too long got the feeling he
or she was becoming a liability -- or that the law of
diminishing returns were applying. Whatever may have
been my failings, some of my colleagues pointed to the
fact that this writer was one of the few who had been
around from Day One, and was known for his attempts to
bring out a good product. Paste-up artists would
comment, "The day you leave, there will be a lot of
disappointment." I suffered from no such delusions. In
part, because nobody is indispensible. In greater part,
because one was aware of the attitude of Rajan Narayan
towards anyone who might one-day be competition.

Right I was. When I told Rajan of my decision, he had
just one question in mind: where are you going? On
being told that it was the Deccan Herald, a visible
sign of relief appeared on his brow. Not only was one
not joining the Gomantak Times, then viewed as the
looming-on-the horizon competition, but also another
journo was getting out of the way. Or at least, that
was how one intrepreted it.

Perhaps one was not wrong. Since then, one was at
Deccan Herald for the first seven years, a period
during which staffers were not officially allowed to
write for other publications. But, since 1995, when one
went into full-time freelancing, never did one feel
welcome to write for the Herald, whenever Rajan Narayan
was around. On the contrary, doing this would make one
feel like an encroacher or illegal alien overstaying
his welcome at a place not wanted.

At one stage, Rajan Narayan went for his lengthy
treatment, leaving behind no editorials for the paper.
Having never apparently encouraged anyone to rise to
the task of writing editorials, he apparently often
used this as his bargaining chip (as has happened
recently). Unlike in other papers, where the
middle-level journalists write the editorial, here the
space was very much Rajan's fiefdom. Being into
freelancing, and wanting to take up the challenge, one
wrote a set of 50 or so editorials during one of his
periods of extended absences during the 'nineties. This
was done at the request of the newspaper management,
and the staff apparently appreciated the move. Yet, on
his return, and probably realising that churning out
this many pieces -- that too, all on issues related to
Goa -- could be done by someone else too, Rajan went on
to write his editorial which claimed "friends in Goa and
Bombay are eager to bury me..." . Or something to that
effect. The "friend' in Bombay was, one guesses, Alwyn
Fernandes, a former Times of India journalist, who at
one stage was actively considering taking over the
editorship of the Herald.

(At a later tenure, after the Herald faced a crisis
when chief reporter Julio Da Silva suddenly opted for
contesting an assembly election on a BJP ticket, rather
than staying on in journalism. Since one had turned to
freelancing, contributing to a local daily sounded a
good idea. This continued for some time, till, again,
Rajan Narayan's return resulted in getting the feeling
of being unwanted.)

At the end of the day -- though nobody should try to
write a premature obit for his influence on Goan
journalism -- Rajan will probably be known for what he
has written. Not for what he made sure didn't surface.
In this context, it is perhaps important to put down
these perspectives on the record, so that the future
could have other views from which to judge contemporary
journalism in Goa.


Chapter 8:
Rural Goa, unheard, unsung...

Melvyn S. MisquitaMelvyn S Misquita represents a trend among some of the
younger journalists -- well-educated (he holds two M.A.
degrees), Net-savvy, and eager to extend the boundaries
of journalism in Goa should be looking at, apart from
just the Secretariat. Recently, his work made it to the
news in a major way, when the Indian Express carried a
large spread in its national-edition on how Misquita
had traced the strange story of the sinking of a World
War II British passenger liner, BritanniaIII, which had
dozens of Goans (including one of Misquita's
grand-uncle's) on board.

If my entry into journalism was accidental, working
with rural correspondents in Goa was equally
unexpected. One morning of May 1998, then editor of the
Gomantak Times, Ashwin Tombat, asked me to handle local
correspondents who were contributing to the newspaper.
He assured me that correspondents were an integral part
of the newspaper and, that, a strong network would play
a vital role in strengthening the newspaper.

While Tombat's ability to put forth persuasive
arguments eventually convinced me to accept this task,
I was determined not to remain 'stuck' with
correspondents for long. There were many reasons for
this. Firstly, working with correspondents invariably
meant that one would end up merely re-writing their
stories and would not have much time to work on my own
stories. And with barely two years of journalism under
my belt, there was no way I would allow my ambition be
condemned to the mere restoration of correspondents'
news items.

Secondly, co-ordinating with correspondents involved
vast amounts of patience, as each correspondent had to
be handled differently. Moreover, since most were
part-time correspondents and could devote only a few
hours to the profession, I could only expect them to
function for a brief part of the day. Then again, these
correspondents were based in different parts of the
state and my interaction with them was largely
dependent on telephones and other means of remote communication.

The correspondents were certainly happy to have me
around, as till then their complaints seemed endless.
"Our stories don't appear promptly in the newspaper
and, sometimes, they don't appear at all. People in our
locality then get upset and complain that we are not
sending in their stories," was a commonly echoed
grievance. "No one attends to our telephone calls and,
when they do, they keep transferring our calls from one
person to another and they finally disconnect the
phone," was another general complaint.

Their complaints certainly had some degree of
legitimacy.

It is a common perception -- especially among
English-language newspapers in the state -- that correspondents
 are third-class passengers, who deserve little or no
decent treatment. Let me cite two instances to prove
this point. In one English-language newspaper, a
correspondent sent me a crime report, which, under
normal circumstances, should have been carried the next
day. To my surprise, the report was not published for
the next two days. The correspondent called me and
sought an explanation for the delay. Unable to give him
a suitable reply, I transferred the call to the
concerned sub-editor, who simply snapped back and
insisted that the correspondent need not bother about
his report and, that, the report would appear only when
there space was available in the paper!

Some time ago, a Vasco-based couple died in a road
mishap in Porvorim and the correspondent promptly sent
in the report. The next morning, I was taken aback to
find the item in a single column, virtually hidden in
the section for continued items on Page 4.
Incidentally, the distribution of saplings by an MLA
not only merited a double-column spread, but also a
decent photograph -- ironically, just alongside the
news item reporting the tragic deaths. The sub-editor's
reply, like his news sense, left me baffled. "So what?
So many people die almost everyday. What was so special
about these deaths?" Unfortunately, the sub-editor
failed to acknowledge the fact that the same news item
was prominently displayed in the other two
English-language newspapers.

A former colleague once aptly described such an
attitude as "'news sense' value which gets transformed
into 'nuisance value'."

In most cases, those serving on the news desk in
English-language papers have never worked as rural
correspondents and are, hence, unable, or in some cases
unwilling, to understand the intricacies of collecting
and sending news items. Confined to the four walls of
the newspaper office, some members of the news desk
play a role similar to that of a cook in the kitchen;
while rural correspondents are the waiters who have to
constantly interact either with an unhappy customer or,
in some cases, a satisfied customer. The news desk
essentially plays a vital role in the making or
breaking of a story sent by rural correspondents.

But then, the news desk is faced with pressures of a
different kind, which are not always understood by
rural correspondents, based as they are in remote
corners of Goa, who rarely witnessed the hectic
activity at the news desk, moments before the deadline.
On numerous occasions, news items placed on the page
had to be removed at the last moment to accommodate
late advertisements. As such, rural reports, no matter
how essential, simply couldn't find the space in newspaper.

Moreover, many correspondents are convinced that their
news items are more important than the others, so much
so that they cannot bear to find their reports delayed
even by a day. Quite often, their unhappiness over the
delay in printing their reports would become more vocal
with each passing day and, invariably, I became their
punching bag. This was largely because some of the
rural correspondents are considered important members
of the public in their locality and, at times, their
prestige and financial gains in journalism would often
be at stake with a delayed publication of their reports.

It must be admitted that over the years, journalism has
been turned into a prestigious and lucrative part-time
option for many of the rural correspondents. A few
years ago, a former editor mentioned to me that he was
on a trip to a remote village in Goa, when he decided
to attend a function in the locality. The place was
packed to capacity and he was forced to stand behind
occupied chairs. To his surprise, the chief guest
happened to be the local correspondent of his own newspaper!

This enthusiasm towards 'extra-curricular' activities
sometimes translates into political affiliation. In a
recent event which established the BJP-journo nexus in
Sanguem, a correspondent with a Marathi newspaper and
member of the Sanguem Patrakar Sangh was been
unanimously elected president of the Sanguem Unit of
the BJP. Similarly, the president of the Sanguem
Patrakar Sangh and a correspondent with an
English-language newspaper, was appointed the BJP booth
president of Tarimol-Sanguem. In most cases, reports
sent by correspondents to the news desk, in the past,
specially when there was no one in particular to look
after this responsibility, simply lacked form and
content. Illegible words either scribbled on scraps of
paper or sent as distorted faxed messages were among
the most popular methods deployed to communicate their
reports. In some cases, only a skilled pharmacist could
decipher the words used by some correspondents. Under
such conditions, the sub-editor assigned to such
reports had the arduous task of converting them into
decent stories. Quite often, the easiest way out would
be to forward the raw report to the dust bin. A
sub-editor flooded with such reports and working under
pressure would invariably exercise this option with
considerable frequency.

Then in June 1998, it was my turn to handle the
correspondent network under the fancy and wordy
designation of "Chief of News Bureau". In reality, I
had to play God in the laboratory. This meant
subjecting numerous correspondent reports to various
quality control tests each day and, in some cases,
creating sense from nonsense, before they were ready to
be read by thousands of readers in and around Goa.
Under such circumstances, I had anticipated that my
association with correspondents would not to last long,
that is, if I wanted to maintain my sanity in the
profession.

But this was not meant to be.

The days turned to weeks, months and eventually years.
And, before I knew it, my interaction with rural
correspondents went on to complete half a decade. I
have since handled thousands of reports either sent to
me through post, fax, emails or even dictated over the
phone. In most cases, the reports may have initially
appeared trivial or insignificant, but a little
refinement and some cut-paste commands have succeeded
in giving a new look to the report. And with
encouraging results.

In a recent case, the Pernem correspondent sent me a
report on action initiated by the local health
authorities, in view of the outbreak of viral hepatitis
in the state. In the second last paragraph of his
report was a mention that the authorities had decided
to shut down the Pernem police station canteen for
operating under 'unhygienic conditions'. In my view,
this was most significant and I refined the story with
this angle as the lead. Taking cue from the news item,
the Director General of Police issued a memo to the
Pernem police inspector, seeking an explanation for the
unhygienic conditions in the police canteen.
Incidentally, Herald was the only English-language
daily to carry this report.

Over the years, I have not only succeeded in building
up my tolerance level to the specific demands of
correspondents, I have also learnt to appreciate the
crucial role of those eyes and ears spread all over the
state. This experience has led me to believe that a
local newspaper which ignores rural news content will
be as effective as an orchestra playing music before a
deaf audience.

While there is consensus on the value of local news
content, the importance of rural correspondents has not
always been appreciated by the powers that be in the
newspaper. A correspondent is often treated like the
spare wheel of a vehicle, detachable and to be ignored
under normal circumstances. The merit is only
recognised in times of emergency, when a big story
breaks out in areas represented by correspondents. Then
too, it is a common trend that newspapers would prefer
to send its full-fledged staffers, often from Panjim,
instead of relying on part-time rural correspondents,
to cover the event. This is not to suggest that
full-fledged staffers have no right to tresspass on the
territory of correspondents, as it were. Rather, a
staffer would benefit a great deal by utilising the
expertise and local knowledge of a rural correspondent
to ensure an effective story.

To cite an example, a staffer was recently asked to
interview noted people in connection with a prominent
cultural festival in a village. The staffer was unaware
that the same festival is celebrated separately by two
groups in the village and, that, the article would need
to carry the comments of people from both groups.
Instead of seeking the assistance of a correspondent
from the area, the staffer went ahead and interviewed
five persons from the village. Eventually, the staffer
realised that four persons interviewed represented one
group, while the sole personality interviewed from the
other group went on to criticise his own group! The
article was published and the damage was done.
Organisers of the second group were aggrieved and
threatened to withdraw advertisements to the newspaper.
The issue was finally resolved when the local
correspondent carried a series of reports to clarify
the position of the organisers of the second group. Had
the staffer sought the assistence of the local
correspondent, the issue would never have been blown
out of proportion.

Then again, the 'who-has-written' preference over the
'what-has-been-written' has plagued many
English-language newspapers and this has largely
contributed to the 'City-Centric Syndrome'. There have
been instances to suggest that a news report filed by a
staffer has been accorded more prominence -- both in
space and display -- than a report sent by a rural
correspondent. Recently, tension flared up along the Tuyem
-Camurlim ferry route, after the river navigation
department wanted to shift the lone ferry to Tar-Siolim
for the five-day Ganesh immersion ceremony. An MLA,
sarpanchas of two village panchayats and over angry 200
people prevented the movement of the ferry. The
correspondent promptly sent the report and the item
could only find place in the lower portion of page 7,
normally reserved for routine and unimportant news items.

The controversy then erupted again for the nine-day
Ganesh immersion ceremony, when authorities finally
shifted the lone ferry from the Tuyem-Camurlim route to
Siolim. Commuters were unhappy to travel by the free
canoe service, while those travelling in vehicles were
forced to take a lengthy detour. On the other hand,
people in Siolim had the luxury of a ferry to assist
them in a religious ceremony. The correspondent sent me
the report but, this time, the item was published on
page 4, normally reserved for stories which have been
continued from page 1. Incidentally, six of the eight
news items which appeared on page 3 -- the most popular
'inside' page for Goa news -- were Margao-based news
items. "At least, you people carried the ferry story. I
sent the same story to my newspaper. But I did not find
my story anywhere in the paper the next day," remarked
an unhappy correspondent of another newspaper.

Newspaper authorities tend to justify this
'City-Centric Syndrome' by claiming that their readers
are concentrated in and around cities and towns and,
hence, an urban-based report would generate more
interest than a remote village-based story. To accept
this argument would be similar to assume that a
nutritional and tasty meal is possible merely with a
generous portion of rice, minus the curry, vegetables
and other side dishes.

Reports by rural correspondents add spice, flavour and
variety to a newspaper. It is no wonder that the
popularity of vernacular papers in Goa has been largely
due to the quality and quantity of local stories, both
from urban and rural areas.

Different standards adopted with rural correspondents
can be quite effective to confuse and demoralise them.
In one incident, a rural correspondent sent me a report
stating that a building constructed by a firm and owned
by an MLA, was being built barely metres from a high
tension pole. A labourer while at work accidentally
came in contact with the live wires and was seriously
injured. Though a police complaint was filed against
the firm and not the MLA, the correspondent was keen to
establish the link since since the MLA was largely
responsible for the negligence. However, the editor
pulled up the correspondent for attempting to introduce
the MLA into the story, when the police complaint did
not specify the direct involvement of the MLA.

Sometime later, the sister of a minister fatally
stabbed her husband to death. Though the minister was
not involved as he was abroad at the time of the
incident, the same editor called up the news desk,
asking them to insert the statement that the alleged
murderer is the sister of the minister. The minister's
identity was not specified in the police complaint and,
yet, the editor wanted to establish the link between
the minister and his sister.

The problems faced by rural correspondents are fairly
common and are not restricted to any one newspaper and
it has become a common trend for local correspondents
to pool in stories and resources. This in turn has led
to the creation of local level associations, commonly
known as "Patrakar Sangh" in most talukas of the State.
These associations have, in turn, branched out into
constituency-level associations. At present, the
numerous "Patrakar Sanghs" in Goa include the
Sanguem-Quepem Patrakar Sangh, Sanguem Patrakar Sangh,
Murgao Patrakar Sangh, Pernem Patrakar Sangh, Mandrem
Patrakar Sangh, Bicholim Patrakar Sangh and the
Bardez-based Zunzar Gramin Patrakar Sangh. Besides
safeguarding the interests of rural correspondents,
these associations provide support to its members and
also promote interactions with society by organising
various contests and cultural programmes.

Having served correspondents across two newspapers for
over half a decade, I have grown to appreciate and
respect their enthusiasm to the profession, despite the
difficulties that engulf them on a regular basis. If my
efforts have paid rich dividends, it is largely based
on my recipe called T.R.U.S.T, which includes the key
ingredients of Talent, Reliability, Usefulness,
Sincerity and Tenacity.

TALENT: Rural correspondents have often been judged by
their talent in the collection of news from their
respective areas. It is this talent that has enthused
many correspondents to remain in journalism for many
years, even though in most cases, monetary benefits
have been too meagre to justify their interest.

I have often worked with rural correspondents who have
little knowledge of English and, yet, they have
communicated to me stories which have turned out to be
impressive reports. There have been some correspondents
who have developed such strong contacts, that they are
easily identified by the masses in different parts of
the taluka represented by the correspondent. These
correspondents are the true representatives of the
newspaper in their areas.

Correspondents with remarkable talent have always
remained the prized possession of a newspaper and, in
many cases, have gone on to become full-fledged reporters.

RELIABILITY: By and large, rural correspondents have
been a reliable lot and have stood by the paper in good
times and in bad. These correspondents have sent in
their reports all year round, without taking into
account their weekly holidays, public holidays or
annual leave. In one newspaper, correspondents were not
paid for a number of months due to acute financial
difficulties and, yet, that didn't retard the flow of
their reports and they continued to serve the newspaper
with the same level of enthusiasm. This level of
commitment and reliability of correspondents will
always be an asset to any newspaper.

I had a correspondent who happened to fly to Bombay in
the morning, but that didn't stop him from sending me a
news item over the phone. Beyond doubt, this
correspondent, despite his busy schedule in Vasco, has
been one of my most enterprising correspondents and a
crucial component in my network of correspondents.

Correspondents located in remote areas usually cover a
huge geographical area and in most cases, travel many
kilometres to either collect or send a report to the
newspaper. Yet, this rarely deters them from sending
their reports.

USEFULNESS: While rural correspondents are primarily
responsible for covering events in their localities,
they are extremely beneficial to newspapers in a number
of ways. They can be of invaluable help in the
promotion of newspaper, be it circulation, generation
of advertisements or other areas of interest to a
newspaper. In fact, some correspondents have even
started advertising agencies of their own.

SINCERITY: This ingredient distinguishes rural
correspondents who pursue journalism as an end from
those who manipulate the profession as a means to an end.

Over the years, I have learnt to respect the large
number of rural correspondents, who have been sincere
to the journalism. This is not to say that rural
correspondents are insulated from pressures while
discharging their part-time duties. On the contrary,
they are most prone to influences within their locality
and hence, their ability to withstand the gravitational
forces of politics and economics has to be appreciated.

TENACITY: Another hallmark of most rural correspondents
is the persistent determination which has been the
driving force over the years. News items on a series of
issues filed by rural correspondents have prompted
authorities to initiate action. Recently, a
correspondent persistently highlighted the illegal
felling of trees in the taluka, inviting the wrath of
timber smugglers. Ignoring numerous threats to his
life, his efforts eventually paid off when arrests were
effected, lethargic local authorities transferred and
brakes applied on the illegal activities in the area.

My association with the Herald is yet to complete two
years, but I am glad that the Herald News Bureau has
developed a team of talented, reliable, useful, sincere
and tenacious correspondents. And I am grateful to have
been involved in this process.


Chapter 9:
A year apart... journalism and leaving home

Daryl PereiraDaryl Pereira came to Goa as a lost young member of the
widespread Goan diaspora. He promptly won many friends
by his friendly ways and have-fun attitude. In turn, he
not just discovered his roots more deeply (Daryl
recently chose to have his wedding in Goa), but also
earned for himself a profession. Besides opting for
Media Studies back in the UK, he currently works for a
search-engine promotion agency (or, put in plain
language, an initiative that skews search-engine
results, to allow you to be listed first, if you can
afford to pay).

A lot has happened since my time as writer and
sub-editor for The Herald's international edition. But
a brief stint in the mid-90's has left an indelible
mark on my psyche. Having said that, the Herald for me
is largely synonymous with India, journalism and
leaving home, so discussing it in isolation isn't easy.
Also, there was no clearly defined plan -- it was
something I more or less stumbled on by chance.

It turned to be a chance encounter of which I still
feel the repercussions.

I arrived in Goa from the UK early in 1995, after
scrapping a potentially lucrative yet un-inviting
career in accountancy, originally no more than another
faceless backpacker with meagre funds hoping to enjoy
the chilled hazy life of a shack-wallah. Shame I didn't
check the weather forecast. The small matter of a
monsoon put paid to any chances of beachside employment.

Offices filled with ledgers piled to the roofs were
enough to put me off venturing into the world of Indian
accountancy and, not wanting to follow the aimless road
back home, I desperately cast the net out wide. An
answer to an advert for a 'Person Required for English
Publication' -- one of the more ambiguous ads to grace
the career opportunity pages -- led to an interview and
my first trip to the Herald offices.

Finding the office more energetic and boisterous than
previous working environments I had experienced, a
barrage of writing tests and interviews left me feeling
like I had been through a whirlwind. The whirlwind
moved quickly. That very same day I found out I was the
new sub-editor for the Herald International Review, a
paper intended to serve the Goan diaspora.

Well, what this role meant in reality was that I would
read the articles awaiting publication, picking up the
odd grammatical error, but more importantly I was the
lowest common denominator litmus test -- if the pages
didn't stand up to my paltry knowledge of the Goan
political system then (the argument goes) it would not
be understood by Goans in the furthest-flung corners of
the globe.

Day in day out, I would take the long dusty climb up to
the top floor -- at the time we were sharing office
space with accounts. Not quite the close separation of
duty to which I'd become accustomed. And although their
elaborate entries in ledgers never became any less
cryptic, it did give me the opportunity to mingle with
those outside the editorial department.

During the early weeks of my tenure in May, the heat
soared. Then early in June the rains broke -- with a
fanfare of grumbles from most of the populace for the
three-day delay. Funny for me, as in the North European
climes to which I was accustomed, rain pretty much
randomly came and went. The ferocity of the storms also
came as a shock. Days heavily punctuated with storms.
The power cuts that ensued, hobbling our much needed
computers, led to a greedy lunge for the last drips of
juice out of the backup generator in order to crunch
out a few extra words. Once that dried up, we would
have little more to do than meditatively stare at the elements.

In the English political system, the summer is the
silly system. It's the time for stories of twins joined
at birth and how a routine trip to the hospital to have
a wart removed leads to three-years incarceration.
Falling over the same months, the monsoon season in Goa
seems to have a similar effect. The supply of news is
low, but the column-inches keep up their incessant
demand. Ministers with long-shot pleas for 'raindrop
tourism' (to wake up a beachside industry all but dried
up over the period) is enough to make front page news.

Perhaps that is the reason that it was felt pushing me
out into the midst of Goa on the hunt for fresh stories
couldn't do too much harm. It was only later that I saw
this as one of the perks of working in a small team
(there were only three full-timers bringing out a
24-page tabloid weekly edition). Feeling like a young
bird pushed from it's nest way before time I was forced
out, between showers, onto the streets of Panjim, to
interact with the local populace. Quite early on, I was
struck by the stony faces of small-league civil
servants. The UK broadcast journalist Jeremy Paxman
claims the relationship between a politician and a journalist
 is like that between "a dog and a lamp post". I could relate.

However, a useful mentor, T helped me through my first
real interview. This got off to a bad start when, after
biking it through sheets of rain, we knocked on the
door -- only to be greeted with the merest slither of a
gap with a voice behind it. I could almost smell the
fear as the middle-aged housewife exclaimed 'naka,
naka', as T tried to negotiate us into the flat. Her
son, a bright student looking for entrance into
engineering college, had come up against a wall of
resistance -- communal motivations were suspected.

Eventually, after agreeing to keep the article as vague
as possible, she succumbed and we entered the flat.
Once in, hot chai and samosas were thrust upon us as we
sat on the main (and only) sofa in a clean and basic
flat. Seems like hospitality begins at the sacred
entrance -- perhaps the reason why were kept out for so
long. Antagonism and Indian snacks don't sit that
comfortably together.

Well, for my first time, all seems to be going well.
However, looking down as I rapidly scribble, I start to
notice a puddle emerging around me on the stone floor.
Early on in the rains and I haven't yet made the
connection between downpours and sandals. The puddle
grows and I feel like my shoes are slowly turning into
the source of the Mandovi. I have little option other
than to come clean. What followed was an episode with
me apologising, receiving a maternal smile and a towel
and a level of empathy I'm not sure could have been
reached any other way. As it happened, the article
created few ripples and the power of the press didn't
have quite the force the lady had anticipated.

My confidence grew, and, as the rainy season drew on, I
ventured out more and more.

Towards the end of August, the rains finally showed
signs of letting up. However there was talk in the
market place -- the fish didn't return. At street level
housewives were struggling to find the plump shimmering
mackerals with which they normally populated their
spicy yellow curries. In the areas surrounding the big
resorts, blame was laid on the proliferation of hotels
with their ever-growing need for the freshest produce.
Out at sea, traditional fishermen blamed the trawlers.
The National Institute of Oceanography, which is
responsible for monitoring the seas, observed from the
fence. Whatever the cause, changes were afoot on this
rural coastal land -- the once abundance of resources
strained as it's popularity started to mushroom.

As the clouds melted away for good, shacks started to
spring up like primroses in May. The hoteliers grumbled
-- their 'multi-cuisine' menus just weren't being read.
Politicians took sides with either faction. Some
framing the fight in favour of the shack-owning
under-dogs, others pointing to their lack of civic
responsibility with their spliced electricity wires and
overflowing rubbish out of the backs of the flimsy
beach side establishments.

On the backs of the tourists and travellers flocking to
Goa came the stories of the parties, drug deaths, Anjuna
 hot-spots that managed openly flout local licences and
throb on till the early hours of the morning. Crime
also increased -- the mugging of tourists, either on
desolate stretches of beach or in their insecure
dwellings, became more and more widespread. The hotels
brought problems of their own. This being a time of
huge growth, water was sapped up beyond the limits of
the local ecology and the coastal regulation zone (the
area demarcated on the beach up to where the hotels
could be built) was debated and apparently ignored in
many instances.

The international ramifications of a sordid paedophile
ring is exposed, following the conviction of Freddy Peats,
a German national involved in the abuse and traffic
of Goa's under-age. As the grim facts unfold, including
naive support by the Catholic church, the society looks
on in repugnance, wanting to distance itself from such
heinous activities. Once again, Goa's flirtation with
other cultures in a bid to make the most of its
picturesque rural ideal is put into question.

One of the major benefits of such a small team bringing
out fortnightly publication is that we had the
opportunity to experience each of the many ingredients
that make up a well-rounded news magazine.

Towards Christmas, to lighten the load of the heavy
political wrangling, I took to the fields. The paddy
fields that is. As a Goan urban dweller, I am familiar
with the white side of rice -- as it appears in all its
culinary simplicity and elegance on the plate. I am
however completely ignorant of the involved process of
getting to that stage. An 'expose' on the inner
workings of the paddy harvest -- the cutting,
thrashing, pounding and milling -- gives me the chance
to wade through the paddy, chase frogs, and be
generally mocked by good-tempered field workers. Not
quite sure if this is in the general job descriptions
of most journalism openings.

As the season starts to draw to a close, like a hungry
tiger the news machine goes in search of whatever
morsels are on offer. Once again the rains come and
Panjim is filled with the sight of sodden journalists
speeding around in reversed raincoats.

For personal reasons, it's time for me to head home.

On return, an enthusiasm for media leads into trendy
multimedia and somehow I end up dumped in full-blown
information technology, where I am today. As such, I'm
not in the perfect position to be able to compare the
practice of journalism in Goa with that of elsewhere,
although the peculiarities of the working environment
do stand out.

From the original office on the dusty top floor, we are
eventually reshuffled into the air conditioned first
floor vault. The cool air brings a much needed respite
from the heat and dust, and the environment is
definitely less makeshift. The room does have another
feature -- low hanging beams at the end and
(particularly hazardously) in the middle of the room
level out the worst excesses of pomposity with a short
sharp shock. I'm not sure if they are part of a larger
shrewd plan of management, but over the years they have
cracked the head of a number of prominent Goan
journalists and contributors. Exactly quite how this
has affected the quality of output, I'm unsure.

And then there was the technology. Aside from the
hardcore printing machines, large metal plates and
dangerous chemicals lying around, the computers that
sponged up our picture and prose were actually more
contemporary than the ones I had left behind as a
Liverpudlian accountant. As the adoption of the
computer had come in here at a much later stage, the
Herald machines tended to be newer, faster and bigger.
There were just fewer of them. Working under such
limited resources would at time inevitably lead to
fractures. Although we worked on the computers
feverishly in the morning to make way for the daily
staff (whose strict deadline gave them precedence), as
deadline approached tempers could occasionally erupt.

This thing called the Internet had been kicking around
for a few years but towards the end of my tenure was
finally picked up by a journalist fraternity that had
viewed the Internet with scepticism and suspicion (as
did many other people at the time). For us it was just
a dial-up modem taking about two minutes for a standard
sized email, as long as nothing happened to the fragile
connection. As our publication was aimed squarely at
the Goan living abroad, this was an excellent resource
for finding out what the Goan diaspora was up to and
how Goa was perceived on the world stage (especially
important in the area of covering tourism). As an
aside, it also meant that I no longer had to write all
the letters to the editor. Other resources such as the
Goacom website appeared, with intentions sturdy enough
to keep it valid to this day (I can heartily recommend
the recipes!). I think it is safe to say that the
Internet has irrevocably changed the face of
researching, collecting and distributing news. The
availability of this service in The Herald and other
Goan papers marks Goa out as one of the more fortunate
areas of the developing world.

I often wondered how powerful the pen we were wielding
actually was. Beyond the massage of ego of seeing a
by-line in print, it was hard to work out if our
columns of verbiage could actually make a positive
meaningful difference. Covering the depletion of fish
stocks after the rains did, to my surprise, seem to
create a few ripples.

Liquor (hard and soft), was often present in the world
of Goan journalism. Anecdotal evidence from the UK and
US suggests that this is common throughout many other
parts of the world. As with many stereotypes, the one
of the hack at the bar does contain some truth. There
is a quite widely held belief that alcohol gets the
mind churning and the pen moving. A pint at lunchtime
can help be a bit more assertive and searching when the
proud owner of the new enterprise slips into pompous conceit.

There was one ritual we adhered to quite regularly --
once a fortnight, after we had put the paper to bed, we
took to the city to celebrate. A restaurant would
inevitably mean a few pegs of rum. Then onto one of the
few late night drinking establishments: a seedy
corrugated bunker alive with the chatter of civil
servants, cops and journalists. Indian rum formed the
cohesive force -- the basis for a number of nefarious
deals in shady corners. Being not so familiar with the
more subtle political machinations I felt largely sidelined.

I did get a glimpse of the more unsavoury effect if
taken to excess -- seeing the image of older
journalists whose idealism had turned to advanced
alcoholism. Exactly what were the causes remained
unclear, but it wasn't pleasant to see.

But how politically unbiased were we allowed to be? The
advertising versus editorial debate in the press is a
perennial one. Over the year I was with The Herald,
there were a few lapses where there would be direct
influence from commercial interests to have articles in
their favour. Being asked to give the owner of a
prominent luxury hotel a mouthpiece through an
extensive interview did give me the sense of being in
the pockets of big business. However, I had the
authority to go to press with quotes throwing into
question the viability of luxury tourism in a land
where the season lasts little over four months --
slightly dampening the gushing tone of the article.

Rather than being downright manipulative, in hindsight
I would describe the management style as slightly
neurotic, characteristically protecting its own
interests. This led to occasional grumbles, back-talk
and skirmishes among the editorial team; however they
say the best relationships flourish under tension.
Perhaps this was the cohesion needed to keep together
the tribe of English-language hacks who refer to
themselves as 'ex-Herald'.

Being a Goan born and raised in the West, interested in
keeping contact and learning about my more distant
roots, the attempts of The Herald to reach out to the
Goan across the globe was admirable, and I was honoured
to be a part of it. The edition has since folded and it
is a shame that the paper doesn't do more at the
international level now, perhaps utilising new
technologies available to streamline the whole process.

All in all, I feel my tenure at The Herald was a
fruitful one. That is not to deny that the paper has
its troubles, but to an extent newspapers (like
politicians) are merely mirrors of the society they
serve. The fact that it has been a part of the Goan
social and political landscape for the last twenty
years is, if nothing more, testament to its success
within the community.


Chapter 10:
Growing up with the Herald...

Visvas Paul D KarraVPDK was an outspoken sub-editor at the Herald, where
he also covered sports for the daily's special
supplement. Subsequently, he has shifted to working at
the prominent Bangalore-based daily, Deccan Herald.

After the Herald, journalism seemed to me like a dress
rehearsal. Always a bridesmaid, never quite the bride.

Surviving months of introductory sessions with Francis Ribeiro,
I was firmly convinced that I had a role in nation
building. I started behaving my age and silently
promised to skip rum the next Saturday night. And on
moon-less nights, I stayed awake thinking about the
burden of the Fourth Estate, lying face down on my
leased estate. At the office there were daily hunting
trips, as I went on poaching for angles and words from
the alphabet forest.

In short, Herald was the 'journalism school' where I
learnt all the elementary tricks of the trade. But what
set apart this journalism school was its sense of
applied practical nightmares. None wanted you to come
up with a neat circle. If it got a reader's attention,
rhombus would do, this I learned from the Herald.

The continuous slogging on the desk, day in and day
out, soon scratched away the sheen off a 'oh-you-are a
journalist' comment and introduced me to a world of
words. This wordy world consisted of stories and
stories, each of them carrying a life of their own,
each one clamouring for attention. The more attention a
story deserved, the higher in the page it appeared. The
less attention the story received, down in the scale
you go.

My 'studies' did not end with desk itself. I did my
internship on the field as 'unofficial special stories
reporter'. The love for writing prompted me to scan the
paper for interesting news and do follow-up on these.
This in the long run gave me the rich experience of a
deskie as well as reporting, something which no
journalism school would probably offer.

But I was not prepared for all this when I applied for
the job of a sub-editor. Neither was I prepared for a
question like 'Do you know English?', when I came for
the interview. Asking a question like this to someone
who has applied for a job in an English-language daily
does seem to be a strange question. But the interviewer
was Rajan Narayan, the editor of Goa's oldest daily. I
was almost in a stupor after meeting the man whom I had
admired for over a decade. But this was an interview
and I stumbled out an answer. Thankfully, the interview
was very short and soon Rajan introduced me to the then
Deputy News Editor of Herald, Francis Ribeiro, who
after initial hiccups became my friend and mentor.
Francis Ribeiro's hand was in a crepe bandage when I
first shook hands with him: Later on I came to know
that he broke his hand in an unsuccessful attempt to
jump over a bull while riding his scooter on the road
to Saligao at night.

Not even in my nightmares had I ever seen myself
sitting in the office of the Herald happily churning
out copies or giving headlines to stories which
thousands of readers would read the next day. But this
happened on December 31, 1996. Since then, my innings
in the Herald was full of excitement. Not even one
single unnecessary off, as Francis would put it.

My tryst with the Herald began as a reader though.
Those were my school days in Don Bosco, Panjim. Coming
to think of it now, it does seem to be a strange
coincidence that I joined Don Bosco school in 1983 as a
fifth standard student, a few months before the Herald
was launched as an English-language daily.

Don Bosco is such a fine school because, as one
realised later in life, this was a school which
awakened the latent talent in every student. Here my
appetite for news (and, or course, lunch) grew day by
day. Every morning, just before classes began, snippets
of important news used to be read out over the school
loudspeakers. One fine morning, it was announced that a
newspaper has been launched in town called the Herald,
and that the front-page and sports-page of this
newspaper would be displayed daily on one of the
ground-floor notice boards. A crowd of boys used to
gather around this newspaper board during the 11 am
interval, snacking on every word. I used to be part of
this crowd. It became a ritual, to read the front-page
and sports-page of the Herald in school.

In my higher classes, one enterprising fellow used to
buy the whole newspaper and bring it to class,
inevitably triggering a mad scramble for the eight
pages. It was in my eighth standard, when one of the
then Salesian fathers, Jude Borges, who taught moral
science, brought copies of the Herald into the class
and asked us to count the number of advertisements and
the number of news items on each page. The verdict:
There was more news than advertisements. The moral that
day for us kids was: read the Herald newspaper, it
enriches your knowledge because it has got more news
than advertisements compared to the other leading
daily. Father Jude left us behind with one moral. I
felt like crying.

Meanwhile, Rajan Narayan's editorials and Stray
Thoughts rose to dizzying heights, and so did my
reading interest in the Herald. So finally when I met
the man himself, I was in a kind of daze.

Of course, the man never ceased to amaze me.

Much water has flowed under the Mandovi bridge carrying
with it the angst, dismay, despair, frustration of many
people who worked with me in the Herald into the
Arabian sea over my style of functioning. Call it what
you want, my stars, fate, karma, foolishness, anything,
but I have this knack of raising the hackles of people.
This inherent nature was actually a boon for me as it
was a kind of weeding out process through which I
landed in the company of those who mattered most.
Because, for a rookie like me, who had no formal
training in journalism, getting trained or learning the
nuances of journalism was of utmost importance. If I
need to tweak my brothers for that, a little 'mea
culpa'.

My innings in the Herald was a kaleidoscope of events
both inside and outside the news-room. But, Goa being
what it is, with sports and politics dominating the
news-pages, I kept myself out of the politics and
devoted myself to sports. Among other things, some
months after I joined, the Herald launched the
Sportswatch, the only sports supplement in Goa at that
time. Francis Ribeiro, affectionately called Choppy,
given charge to bring out the supplement every Friday,
was running short of hands. So I got an opportunity to
help in layout and editing of stories. This was really
an exiting break for me because, being a sportsman
myself, having played competitive judo, and with keen
interest in football, I naturally took to Sportswatch
like a fish to water.

My first big story was an interview with cricketer
Arjuna Ranatunga, the then captain of the Sri Lanka
team, which came to play in Goa. The highlight was not
my interview with Ranatunga but the startling
discoveries we made of some of the murky path in which
the cricketing world travels. Aravinda de Silva asked
us to speak his manager for permission to do a write up
on him. To our chagrin, we realised that his manager
was in Sri Lanka and this was an excuse by Aravinda de
Silva. This came amidst reports of some cricketeers
expecting to be paid a fee -- or extract money,
depending on how you see it -- for an interview. The
standard rate then it seems was Rs 10,000! Sunil
Gavaskar too behaved oddly with us when we asked him to
talk to us. This was much before the match-fixing
scandal broke out.

Thanks to Choppy, even though I started by helping him
out on the desk, I also got to do many stories for
Sportswatch. This taught me many lessons in writing,
meeting deadlines, and building up a nose for news. One
incident I remember is the disbanding of the Sesa Goa
football team. Somehow, Choppy got wind of this. So we
went to the Sesa management, which denied plans for any
such move. We ran a story to this effect in Sportswatch
. By the next week, things took a dramatic turn and the
news became official. The Sesa Goa football team was
indeed disbanded.

On the day when the decision was announced, both Choppy
and me did not even have time for lunch. We grabbed
some samosas and straightaway landed at the team
manager Joe Vaz's office in Miramar. Here we collided
with a collage of emotions from the coach to the
manager and the players all in a stupor. This was a
unique experience. One which provoked us to criticise
the management strongly; but journalistic ethics reined
us in. It taught me not to be emotional when dealing
with a profession.

It seems that Alvito D'Cunha, one of the dashing
forwards for East Bengal today, was one among a group
of Sesa Goa players who ditched the club midway in the
Second Division league and came back to Goa from
Bangalore during the players transfers period. Shorn of
its cream players, the team was left high and dry
without any strength, nullifying it chances of
qualifying for the Big League. Peter Lima Leitao, who
was the corporate manager for the team, is on record
saying that if Sesa Goa had qualified for the National
League, then perhaps the decision to disband the team
would have been put off.

Of course, it was not all hunky dory for me on the
Sportswatch desk. Neither could I boast that I had
become a full-fledged writer with hardly two years of
experience. When Brahmanand Shankhwalkar won the Arjuna
Award, Choppy asked to me to go to Fatorda for a
profile of this great football player. But I almost
chickened out as I did not have the guts to meet such a
famous personality like Brahmanand. Help came in the
form of Ashley do Rosario, into his second innings in
Herald by then, who offered to accompany me. In Fatorda,
I found out that some great people like Brahmanand,
who win laurels for the country and win accolades for
themselves, have no airs about themselves. This Arjuna
awardee was just an ordinary person who performed
extraordinarily. Sheer grit, determination, hard work
and humbleness were his only tools of success.

My passion for all things football sometimes landed me
in trouble too.

Officially, my job at the Herald, by this time, was
being part of the Goa desk. On a few occasions, the
news editor and the editor discovered that I was going
all the way to Fatorda, 40 Kms from Panjim, to watch
the National Football League. Soon enough, I got a
'goonish absurdism' from the editor asking why action
should not be taken against Mr Visvas Paul for
'subsidising' work. There were two or three points with
which I was accused, one among those was that I had
defied the News Editor Sergio Caldeira. I denied
everything in a written reply. What they did not reckon
was that I would sincerely came back from the football
match, and complete my day's work, which was doing the
Goa page. But seniors later did not have any qualms
about accompanying Choppy and me for an important match
during working hours. What's more, after coming back
from the match, he even helped me complete the page!

Doing a Goa page was the dreariest thing on the desk,
because, of the kind of stories that landed in from the
correspondents.

Stringers used to send three or four pages of
hand-written foolscape papers, which, when edited,
turned out to be just single column stories. I wonder
how the scene is now. In those days, there was no
re-writing desk and the sub-editors had to do all the
dirty work of re-writing, editing and making a page. It
was a tough job but it improved one's editing skills
and my patience and perseverance too. So how could one
be blamed for opting to take a few hours for a harmless
passion like watching a football match? I footed hefty
petrol bills for this by the way, but could not claim
the travelling allowance.

One's desk job also threw up some funny situations.

For one, there was the traditional rivalry between
sub-editors and reporters -- an unpalatable and
unacknowledgeable fact to many. In the Herald, we had
another kind of rivalry. This running feud was between
compositors and sub-editors on the Goa desk. The
intensity of this feud became more pronounced during
the night shifts. It used to turn into a bitter fight
complete with the usage of the choicest abuses
available.

Department of Information press notes (trust the
politicos and their wise words of wisdom to have a hand
in any kind of fight) and hard copies sent by stringers
were the cause. The compositors used to concentrate on
composing advertisement, after reporting to work
regularly irregular, while we sub-editors breathed down
on their necks to type our stories which were our
life-line to fill the page. I think that Herald was the
only place which recruited an assortment of a
government servant, wannabe-advocate and a shoe-shop
vendor as compositors.

In short, Herald became their heart break club.

Mehboob was one of the finest composer we had, although
he could not discern the difference between bail and
jail. One night shift, I gave him a faxed copy from
Margao bureau filed by Minoo Fernandes. It was a court
case and Radharao Gracias was the advocate for a
defendant. Our man, Mehboob, usually is deadpan on the
keyboard but that particular day, he finished it on
time. When I opened the copy, suddenly, the story
seemed to be different from what I had read earlier.
Wondering whether I got my story wrong, I rechecked the
hard copy and found that apparently, Mehboob misread
the surname of Radharao wrongly and so it read like
Advocate Radharao Greasiness instead of Gracias. From
that day onwards, I opened a new file called 'MTV
Enjoy' and stored all the bloomers of composed copies,
courtesy Mehboob.

This same guy, during the Lent season, decided to skip
work on Maundy Thursday, because someone told him that
Good Friday fell on Thursday that particular year. All
said and done, Mehboob was a sweet guy because he would
come with delicious beef kebabs for all of us during
Ramzan evenings.

Talking of bloomers, readers of the Herald newspaper
would have had an early morning wire trip one morning
if this one hadn't been detected just in time. The
edition was put to bed, and the customary good-nights
were done with. At that time, there was a process known
as spooling, in which Page 1 was printed on a film
paper to do away with the 'hazards' of cut and paste
process. The Linotype operator was an apology of a man,
most of the time reeking of a combination of the local
urrak or feni and ghutka. The chief sub sent the page
for spooling and left. Before I signed off from the
office, I just happened to go to the plate making
section to see how my page was shaping up and just
glanced at Page 1 which was spooled and ready for
plate-making. Lo and behold, yesterday's front page was
gloriously laid out on the pasting grid and ready for
plate-making. Even the pasters did not realise the
mistake as the advertisement for that particular day
was the same size as the previous days. Our Linotype
operator spooled yesterday's page and sent it for
plate-making. I gave him a big dressing down but did
not report it to anybody as he begged me not to do so.

Talking of the pasters, Umesh, a big bull of a guy was
my 'best friend' as he always liked to trouble me by
going to sleep just as I finished page 3 and brought it
up for cut pasting on the grid. Somehow, our animosity
made us wary of each other and we developed a mutual
respect. Despite numerous complaints by the chief-subs
about his behaviour, he remained non-chalant as he did
not expect the powers that be to take any action on him.

I guess that this attitude for disregard towards people
in power is all prevalent and all pervasive in society.
It is an universal truth that any law is meant to be
broken. As a corollary, frozen laws are enacted by the
government only in order to freeze some people, though
these laws are hardly taken out of the freezer and
defrosted. A case in point is the anti-smoking and
anti-spitting law decreed in Goa with much fanfare and
welcomed by many quarters. One aspect which was raised
by noted anti-tobacco activist Dr Sharad Vaidya, was
how effectively would the anti-smoking law be enforced
in the State. A valid point which I had raised with the
then Chief Minister Francisco Sardinha. He said on
record that it was difficult to implement. He also
admitted that there are always those who want to defy
the law.

Rules are there on which the government seems to suffer
from selective amnesia, because they are unable to
implement in the right spirit as they have no clue as
to how to go about it. When the High Court gave an
order banning loud music after 10 pm based on a
complaint by the environmentalists, Choppy and me wrote
a series of articles for Insight analysing in depth,
the pros and cons.

One point that had us puzzled was from ought the sound
to be measured. At its source, or from the point where
the complaint was made. Obviously, the authorities
could not place their sound-metres at the mouth of a
10,000 watt music speaker and say the decibel level
were high. When pointed out, the Secretary of the Goa
State Pollution Control Board talked greek. For that
matter, we discovered that the pollution control board
was not even equipped with proper sound-metres. Neither
could the government come in defence of the music
industry and allied activities like the night clubs
which depended on music and entertainment to draw
tourists to Goa.

After the much touted and much publicised millennium
rave party by Mumbai tycoon Jay Wadia was banned by the
High Court in December 1999, I was witness to two rave
parties in January 2000, though on a smaller scale, but
where the corruption by the police was displayed in its
full naked glory nonetheless. At one rave party at
Bamboo Forest in Anjuna, instead of stopping the party,
the police arrived, collected their share and left the
place as unobtrusively as they came. They were blind to
the open sale of drugs and were deaf to the raves'
sound pollution which carried on well past midnight
into the wee hours of the morning.

Another rave party also organised near Anjuna was
completely insulated against police harassment. Such
was the extent of influence asserted by the organisers
of this rave party that the police just turned a deaf
ear to phone calls made by Choppy and me just to check
how much the police is interested in enforcing the law.
We do not know whether money had changed hands but when
we did not get any response to the repeated phone calls
we made to the nearest police station we personally
went to speak to the police officer on duty -- but to
our horror found the police station was closed, lock
stock and barrel, as deserted as a place hit by a
typhoon. But our labour was not in vain. Next day, this
was in February 2000, Ashley ran an exclusive report on
the front page based on our first hand account. But the
surprising part was the way the DySP North Goa denied
everything, including our calls and visit to the police station.

My days in Herald are truly memorable. Along the way I
did trample on a few toes inadvertently, but my well
wishers and the learning tips they provided me are
invaluable. Any memories I carry of Herald must be
painted with the pictures of Choppy, Rico and Ashley,
who contributed greatly to my development as a
journalist. I can safely include this trio into the
list of the other great people like Devika Sequeira,
Pamela, Derek Almeida about whom I have heard a lot.

I guess, the journalistic calibre of the above
mentioned people and their attitude of being go-getters
rubbed off onto people like me. The excitement of
running after news, rather than waiting for news to
land in the form of press notes or government
hand-outs, is a different ball-game altogether. It was
a question of being there first which I liked most in
Herald. During the police firing incident at Cortalim
on the anti-Meta Strips agitationists, when two or
three people were grievously injured, I know it was we
from Herald who reached the hospital first. I fail to
recollect whether it was Choppy or Ashley with whom I
landed at Goa Medical College where the injured were brought.

Although the photographer had gone missing during this
crucial hour, we were nevertheless armed with our
dictaphones to record the first hand accounts of how
the police firing started in Cortalim. We managed to
elicit the names of injured, right from the horse's
mouth so to speak, got reactions of the people who
accompanied the injured and were back in the office in
front of our computers.

Even as the day's incidents took shape in the form of a
lead story for the edition, our faces were somber and
anger welled up in us as we could not forget the gory
images of the body parts of one injured youth. He was
shot through his genitals. But we were journalists and
were supposed to objective in our reports. That was
Herald, getting it right the first time and all the time.

In a sentence, I stitched my cloak and bought my
dagger, from Herald.


Chapter 11:
In black & white... newsdesk nuggets

Derek Almeida

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Derek Almeida, besides being one of Goa's finest and most
aesthetically-balanced deskmen, steals time to write humour columns whenever
possible. This product of Goan journalism has won the respect of his juniors
by his honesty at work, his ability to stand by his subordinates, as well as
his considerable if under-appreciated talent. Memorable headings like
'Sirsat elected, Tomazinho selected' (after a controversial election to the
Goa Speaker's post) are credited to Derek, as every self-respecting deskman
of that era in this state would recall.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

When I joined the Herald in 1985, the news desk
consisted of two unvarnished desks and three very
uncomfortable chairs. The chief-sub's chair was
distinguishable from the others because it had wheels.
It also had a back-rest and seat fashioned from woven
plastic which had given way due to continuous use by
Anthony Fernandes alias Anton, Frederick Noronha alias
Rico and sometimes Francis Rebeiro alias Choppy. I was
one of those who did not have an alias.

Those were the days when the PTI and UNI machines were
hardly two metres away from the news-desk and Rico had
invented an ingenious way of preventing the clatter
from getting to him. He used to stuff paper in his
ears, because it was cheaper than cotton.

I also remember Anton completing his work before dinner
on the night shift and reading a novel while waiting
for galley-proofs. How nice it was to be chief-sub back
then. I thought, one day when I reach that post I too
would read novels. When I finally made it, the system
had changed and there was no time to read novels. So I
do have some regrets.

Rico, by the way, was very possessive of the TV which
projected black-and-white images of the news. He never
let us watch anything more that the news and, if I
remember well, used to take out the `on-off' knob and
stash it in his pocket till the end of the shift. He
was, and still is, a work-is-worship chap. Rico was
also the only man on the news-desk who could type with
the speed of a steno.

We also had a thin wiry fellow named Madhu who made tea
and did some odd jobs like taking edited to the
composing room on the mezzanine floor and oiling the A4
paper print-outs to make them transparent. Every time
he bunked work he would return the next day with a
mournful look and announce that some relative had died.
Five days later he would conveniently kill another
member and disappear for another two days. This never
stopped because he had and extended family of relatives
comprising several aunts, uncles, aunts-in-law,
uncles-in-law, cousins and god knows what. He never
followed any pattern and killed them at random. Some of
his relatives died several times. By the time he left,
I am told, he had bumped off almost all the members of
his family.

I can't remember if Madhu made good tea or not. To me,
a cup of tea at work was a welcome luxury, especially
because it was free. I say this because Herald was then
paying trainee-subs Rs 400 per month. Not enough to
keep body and soul together. So, when I was confirmed
and my salary jumped to Rs 750, I moved into a new
economic bracket of professionals who could afford to
buy Maggie two-minute noodles. The Rs 750 put an extra
bounce in my walk and the chin vent a notch higher,
even though I still had to depend on my Dad for clothes.

The only reporter we had was Rajesh Singh who was very
good at chess and devoted a great deal of his time
playing Rajan Narayan, the editor. Apart from his
writing skills, he was adept in getting other subs to
buy him cups of tea.

It was at the Herald that I first met Elston Soares
alias Paku (some years later, we met again at Newslink,
the Belgaum-published English-language sister
publication of Tarun Bharat). He had a huge grin, wrote
with his left hand, ate with his left hand and edited
copy with his left hand. In short, he was a `leftie'.
He had an interesting sense of humour. I am told he
coined the term `Romi-Marathi' for the language written
by some correspondents.

Apart from the tea, another luxury enjoyed by
sub-editors living in and around Panjim was a home drop
at night in the office jeep. On one or two occasions I
remember being dropped in the Patrao's black Mercedes
to the Don Bosco Hostel. This luxury was withdrawn
after we formed an employees union several years later.

This was also the time when I met Alexyz, the
cartoonist. He came across as a very friendly person
with a benign face covered with a lot of hair, mostly
black; a very hearty laugh and a penchant for practical
jokes. I remember him standing on St Tome street and
directing all passersby to the Herald. The poor souls
would enter the office with blank looks not knowing
what had hit them.

Those were the days when the post office was a bigger
landmark and Herald was referred to as `behind the post
office'. So Alexyz once sent us a cartoon enclosed in
an envelope. It said: 'To Rajan Narayan, behind the
post office; From Alexyz, behind the bars.' That was Alexyz.

A few weeks after I was formally accepted at
trainee-sub-editor a local farmer, this was before the
advent of progressive farmers, or whatever they call
them these days, horticulturists and what not... So, a
local farmer came to the office with a very long
snake-gourd. Since volunteers were hard to come by, I
was ordered to pose with the vegetable. The next day my
photo was published on the inside page of the Herald. I
did not know whether to feel proud or embarrassed.
Today, I still don't know.

After a year, I returned to Belgaum and two years later
when I returned the Herald had changed. Rajan had a
bigger cabin. Norman Dantas had a smaller cabin and
Gustav Fernandes the manager had a cabin of
intermediate size. The News Desk had morphed from two
unvarnished desks to a large one with a sunmica top.
Now it looked more like a cheap dining table from the
Holy Spirit Church fair. It was was positioned between
Rajan's and Norman's cabins and under the altar.

Rico had left and Anton had become a reporter. The
others had left too. Wilfred Pereira, who was a
stringer from Margao, had become chief-sub. Willy, as
he was known, was a very organized man. His drawer,
which was located at one end of the news-desk, was
neatly kept and contained almost everything like pens,
scales, soap. It was like a mini-stationery shop. I
always suspected Willy also had a tin-can opener and a
Swiss army knife stashed somewhere in that drawer.
Willy also had a lovely handwriting.

It was during this second stint that I met Ivo Vaz from
Varca. He was blessed with cat feet and always walked
into the office with an old airline bag without making
a sound. Ivo looked dead serious all the time, even
during picnics. He once organized a picnic for Herald
staffers at Varca, where he sat in one chair throughout
the day. When we left, he was fast asleep. Ivo also had
a strange way of editing copy which reminded me of an
automobile assembly line. After editing each news story
he would attach a rectangular piece of blank paper with
a pin to the left-hand corner and keep it aside. After
piling up several copies in this manner he would start
giving each story a heading. Ivo had an antique olive
green Morris Minor, which he treasured, and a daughter
whom he loved. Everytime his daughter recovered from
some ailment he would treat all of us to ice cream,
with our peon Jose acting a facilitator in the whole
process. Jose would do anything for a free cake, ice
cream or anything edible.

Then there was Bone-Crusher Agnel who took pleasure in
squeezing the life out of anyone who made the mistake
of shaking hands with him. My hand some how survived
Agnel's vice-like grip.

Another sub-editor who caught my attention was
Cornelius Gomes who worked on the sports desk with
Nelson Dias. Cornelius always sported a beard and
mustache which covered most of his face and gave him a
Ringo Starr look. Cornelius also played football for
the Herald team and had this 'queer' technique of
tackling rough players. When ever he encountered a
player leaning on him to head the ball or digging an
elbow in his ribs, he would tickle the chap's backside.
This technique proved to be more effective than the
ref's whistle.

By the time Herald completed its tenth year we had a
formidable team with players like Tulsidas, Jason,
Alaric, Jose, Domnic, Pradeep, our platemaker, and
Vilas Sarang who never made it to the team. Umesh alias
Umi, our sleepy paster, was a live wire in the goal.
With Choppy as manager we were willing to take on anyone.

On one of our anniversaries Choppy set up a match with
the Navhind Times. Two or three days prior to the match
we were shocked to discover that NT would be fielding a
few first division players from the Dempo team. We
nearly suffered a stroke. But then Choppy always had
this never-say-die attitude. In a crisis he would take
two deep inhalations from an anti-asthma pump which he
always carried in his pocket, and, in seconds go from
Bruce Banner to The Hulk. In a day, Choppy's
never-say-die attitude spread to everyone and off we
marched to the Don Bosco school ground in our new
uniforms for the slaughter.

Guess what? We won.

That was not all. Choppy loved ceremonies and had
arranged an elaborate function with a chief guest,
prizes and speeches. After the speeches the Herald team
captained by Tulsidas (I think) went up and received
their medals. Everyone who had adorned the Herald
colours got a medal. Next was the turn of the Navhind
Times team to collect their medals. Half way through
this process Choppy realized that he had bought less
medals. We hit the panic buttons. But then, in the
Herald you have to be resourceful to survive. We
quickly formed a human chain and started passing medals
presented to the Herald team back to the chief guest.
It was a smooth operation. Months later, when the time
came for Navhind Times to celebrate its anniversary,
they did not dare play a football match with us.

I also remember playing a football match on the beach
during a picnic at Candolim. Our team had earned a
penalty and Pamela D'Mello decided to take it. (Yes,
she played football). By the way, picnic matches are
scaled down versions of the world cup. The goals are
tiny, the playing field is small and there's no ref.
Before the penalty could be taken, a dispute broke out
between us and Ashley do Rosario over how the penalty
should be taken. Ashley grabbed the ball and insisted
that the spot kick should be taken with the heel and
with the player facing his back to the goal. I don't
know where Ashley found this rule, but we were aware of
Pamela's prowess as football player, and hence,
objected. Those were pre-mobile phone days, so there
was no way of contacting FIFA for their take on the
rule. Finally after much cajoling and arm twisting,
Ashley relented and allowed Pamela to take the kick.
The ball was placed five feet from the goal which was
one-and-half foot wide. Tulsidas, our captain, who was
desperate for a goal gave Pamela a thorough briefing on
how to take the kick. Next he drew a line in the sand
starting from the ball to the center of the goal line
to make it easier for Pamela. Ashley did not object. We
all stood back and waited. Pamela positioned herself
behind the ball, lifted her right foot and kicked with
all her might. The ball missed the goal by three feet.
That was how Pamela missed her chance to enter the
Herald football hall of fame. She went on to be a very
good reporter.

This was also the picnic when Ashley drove from Candolim
 to Betim in his Fiat without releasing the handbrakes.

Somewhere during the eight years I lived and worked in
the Herald, a fellow villager named Lirio Vasconsales
found employ as a sub-editor. This wiry chap had a face
full of hair and was a die hard Navhind Times fan. He
used to fold the NT and stuff it into his trouser
pocket, to be retrived for leisure reading on the last
bus to Margao. This habit earned him a sobriquet --
pocket Navhind Times. Lirio also possessed a
matter-of-fact sense of humour. One day Lirio was
feverishly editing copy with a ball pen refill even
though he had an empty ball pen in his pocket. Sports
editor Nelson Dias, who happened to pass by, asked
Lirio: "Arre baba, why don't you put the refill in the
pen and use it?" Lirio looked up at him through his
glasses and said: "No time". This was the one and only
time I saw Nelson hit for a six.

In those days before the lazer printer was perfected by
HP the A4 sized `butter` paper used to get `jammed`
inside the machine very often. During one such occasion
Lirio who had been observing the machine for over
half-an-hour in the composing department turned to me
and said: "We insert butter paper in the machine, so
how do we get paper jam?"

My first encounter with Rajan Narayan was not
awe-inspiring. Rajan was never a dresser and, on the
few occasions when he managed to get into a long
sleeved shirt and ironed trousers, he looked quite
smart. The first time I saw him for one of the
anniversaries when he came with a slightly over-sized
navy blue coat. The next occasion was when he returned
from Dubai on the first Air-India direct flight from
the Gulf. His attire never bothered him or any of the staff.

Rajan had two indulgencies -- smoking and chewing
`Halls' sweets. And the smoking nearly burnt him out
one day. I was in the office that day when a couple
arrived to see Rajan. As usual he lit a cigarette and
was puffing away when the couple noticed smoke under
the table. It didn't take long for Rajan to realize
that his trouser pocket was smouldering. He thrust his
hand into the pocket to put out the fire and in the
process burnt his fingers. After a little slapping here
and there the fire was put out. I was quickly summoned
and told to buy a tube of Burnol. Rajan never believed
in moderation. He squeezed half the tube on his fingers
and continued conversation with the couple with the
yellow paste all over his hands. I don't know how his
pocket caught fire, but I think Rajan absent mindedly
shoved the match in his pocket instead of the ashtray.

There were a lot of other interesting incidents that
happened in the Herald, some nice, some not so nice.
Like how we played mandicot all night in the composing
room or how we celebrated on Independence eve with a
bottle of whiskey and nearly got caught or the
formation of the Union, or the time when the electrical
system short circuited and Pamela, Alaric and Paul
filed stories in candle light, or Rico's hoi-te.

Perhaps some other time? Perhaps, for the twenty-fifth
anniversary e-book.


Chapter 12:
The proof of it all...

Tony MartinTony Martin, the better-known pen-name of Anthony
Barretto, worked his way through Goa's English-language
newspapers, before shifting to education. He has gone
into self-publishing, and, in his own modest and
low-profile manner, has managed to put out books with a
print-run of 5000 copies (amazing by Goa's standards).
Currently, he is working on a website on Canacona.

Just an out-of-school teenager that I was, life then
posed a 'Catch 22' situation when one first landed in
Panjim. Without any experience, it was difficult to get
work. Yet, at the same time, it was difficult to get
experience because I couldn't get any work.

So one fine day armed with a recommendation from the
late music maestro-priest Fr Lourdinho Barreto, who
hailed from my village of Galgibaga in the southern
extreme of Goa, to Fr Freddy for the post of proof
reader I arrived at the Gulab office. This got an
I'll-let-you-know from the editor.

Well at least I knew what job I was looking for.

Then, with a fantastic helping of luck I got a job with
the Herald -- oops actually it was with Norlic India,
the firm shown as the employer of those doing the
proof-reading of the Herald, in those days.

The job was as a proof reader, and the date was August
12, 1985.

To us, whether it was Norlic India or Herald did not
then matter, I was getting my bread, so there was no
point complaining about missing the cake.

But along with my bread, I also got a taste and a
first-hand glimpse of what I had only heard of earlier
-- exploitation. Obviously the Norlic India tag was
meant to deny us the applicable scales for
proof-readers. We were almost like daily wage factory
workers. Accept it or leave it. With pressing financial
constraints, and at that time there wasn't even a
functional union in the Herald (it came sometime later,
and have worked in fits and starts) the option was
clear: shut up and do your work or speak up and get
kicked out.

All said just-enough-to-survive Rs 400 a month was
still a luxury.

So I got myself testing the waters in the novitiate of
journalism. For a tender 'naal' (coconut) like myself
the sub-editors of the time -- Anthony, Rico, Godwin
Figueira and sports editor Nelson, to name a few --
were exceptionally good. If I had peanuts for salary, I
had gems for seniors.

For most people proofreading is basically checking
spellings and omissions by the typesetter. It was not
much different here. On the few occasions we, the
humble proof-readers, particularly Jack, ventured to
show our mastery in punctuation and grammar, the
concerned sub-editor would get furious, of course in a
playful way. Often we would end up exposing our
ignorance to the world.

Ignorant or well-informed, those two years in the
Herald were years of youthful exuberance and bliss.

And there was this noble soul Caetano. Well I call him
a noble soul because even as the foreman of the
composing section, he never gave me an opportunity to
see him angry although we proof readers (which, of
course, includes me) used to give him a chance to be
angry almost every day.

One day when 'penis' became 'mightier than the sword',
he laughed at it together with the subs, and then,
after they had left, politely warned us to be careful.
He had no special training in people-management; he had
surely not attended any hi-fi seminars now conducted by
self-proclaimed management gurus. Yet, if there was one
thing he knew other than typing at an incredible speed,
it was to keep his juniors motivated. We owed our
productivity and effectiveness to him. He would
challenge the Subs to a rupee for a mistake in a report
or an article. On that count we didn't let him down, at
least not often, even considering that overlooking
errors in a straight read-through -- without the luxury
of checking print-outs, but doing the proofreading on
the flickering screen itself -- was a distinct possibility.

Ironically, on the few occasions, the editor, Rajan Narayan
 -- he was not yet the super-man of the Herald then; he
acquired almost that status during and after the
language agitation -- entered the composing room, we
were just logs of dead wood for him. Not a side glance
even to acknowledge our greeting. My view: perhaps all
these years Mr Narayan was soaring too high on the
pedestal the management had seated him on, after
granting him a free hand. And as is the rule of nature,
every thing that goes up comes down. And he came down
with quite a bang.

But that was just a stray cloud in the silver lining
the Herald offered. That indifference apart, our Herald
innings is something to look back and laugh about. I
can still sense the taste of the first sip of urak at
an after-work session. Not long later, Remy and I
crashing into a cow with my rickety cycle on our way to
the Don Bosco Hostel. Time: around 3 a.m.

Another party we had in the office was a chicken party.
Nice dry fried chicken. Courtesy Jack. Everybody had
and there was still more to go around, much like in the
Biblical parable of loaves-and-fishes. But nobody
except Jack knew, until the next day, from where the
chicken came. The next day a notorious looking man
walked into the Herald office. To make bad matters
worse he happened to meet the 'patrao', the publisher
and then patriarch A. C. Fernandes. They talked a while
and he left. The next moment the old man came charging
and thundered, "Kal kombeo konnem adleo re?" (Who
brought in the chicken yesterday?) "Aayem Patrao, mhaka
rostear podlo mevloleo," (I, boss. I found it fallen on
the road) Jack confessed not unlike a frightened
rabbit. "Faleamson kamank enaka," (You're fired). And
Patrao left. Of course all those who had enjoyed the
chicken the previous day came to Jack's rescue.

In the good old days, the pace was leisurely, stresses
fewer and everything was rosy. But the pay packet was
not growing significantly heavier even after two years.
I was stuck at Rs 500. We were free to ask the then
Manager Gustavo Fernandes for anything except a raise.
Asking for a raise was invariably met with a simply
question, 'Do you want to continue?'

There was no choice. Choice came knocking with the
arrival of Gomantak Times. And some of the more
enterprising journos left their training ground and
joined GT. But, to this day, Herald remains an
enriching and fond experience.


Chapter 13:
Birth pangs at Sant Inez

Elston Soares

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Elston Soares, a veteran of the desk, has worked at the Herald, Newslink and
Gomantak Times. Since moving out of Goa, he has worked in publications in
the Gulf and Singapore.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------

February 15, 1987 marked a watershed in the history of
English-language journalism in Goa. That date marked
the launch of Goa's fifth English-language daily to be
launched in the union territory-turned-state.

Fifth, that is, if one includes the now defunct West
Coast Times and Newslink, an English-language newspaper
launched by the Tarun Bharat Group, and targeted at
Goa, though like the Tarun Bharat in Marathi earlier,
it too was printed from the neighbouring city of Belgaum.

This writer spent two months with Newslink in late 1986
in Belgaum, together with Haseeb Shakoor and Derek Almeida,
bringing out the newspaper in very trying and
primitive conditions.

Strangely, the Tarun Bharat group then thought that
they could do another Tarun Bharat with Newslink, that
is, to produce a newspaper for the Goa market from
Belgaum. But with one significant difference.

We did not have the wide correspondent network of Tarun
Bharat. We were, instead, expected to translate the
stories from Marathi -- something we did rather more
successfully in Gomantak Times a few years later.

But then, at Belgaum, this was a task easier said than
done. And as anyone who has tried translating stories
from Goa's Marathi press will testify, most stories
contain enormous amount of comment and a large number
of them are un-sourced.

Our plight could therefore be well imagined. Things I
guess have become somewhat better in the last few
years; but then it was a nightmare. Trying to fill up
six broad-sheet pages with material translated from
Tarun Bharat was way too optimistic a goal, to put it
mildly. So at best you managed a couple of pages. The
rest of the paper was trusty old teleprinter copy,
courtesy UNI (United News of India) and PTI (Press
Trust of India).

And as for our own reporting resources, there was
Lionel Messias who slaved all alone in the Panaji
office. This couldn't last. So in early December 1986,
when the Gomantak Group advertised for staff, I jumped
at the opportunity and applied. Besides being a good
opportunity to return home from Belgaum -- anyway one
used to travel home every week -- the adventure of
being there as a newspaper was being born was too good
to miss.

Not that I was totally unfamiliar with the birth pangs
of newspapers -- having joined the Herald as a trainee
when it was a few months old and Newslink when it was
in a similar position. But, birth pangs or whatever,
there's nothing like competition to add a little
excitement. It shakes up established players, and all
the poaching for staff only pushes up salaries and
gives hitherto ignored journalists their day in the sun.

I too was offered more money -- more than double my
last salary drawn in the Herald -- which I had quit a
few months earlier in less than happy circumstances.
Meanwhile, just as Gomantak Times was about to be
launched, Rajan Narayan in his inimitable style
launched a broadside against the to-be-launched
newspaper. For days, he wrote about how the Maharashtrawadis
 were planning take over Goa's English-language media.
Never mind that most of the to-be-launched paper's
staff were old Herald hands.

However, GT -- as the paper was later referred to --
seemed on to making great progress as we neared launch
date. For the first time in the history of Goa's
English-language media, we had newspaper designers
working on what the paper would look like. A two-man
team from what was then Bombay was paid a princely sum
of Rs 25,000 to come up with the new design.

But that was where the good news stopped. The company
which had sold the Chowgules the desk-top publishing
equipment for the new newspaper had amazingly been able
to convince the management that there was no need for
paste-up artists. So there we were, trying to put
together a newspaper without artists or computer
operators or journalists who could do screen-based page layout.

There were no dummy runs; in fact, on the night before
the first edition, I was forced to call one Herald's
former paste-up artists to come in and help produce the
paper. Today, all this may sound strange -- given the
technological innovations of the last decade -- but
then it was crazy, particularly given that the
Chowgules had a fully functioning newspaper Gomantak
and should have known better.

Then to the issue of staff recruitment, and and one of
my pet peeves.

Goan newspaper managements have always hired
journalists from outside the state -- at exorbitant
salaries -- believing them to be better than local
talent. And so was the case with GT, where my then
chief-sub colleague, a sub from the Times of India, was
paid twice as much as I was. But just because they are
imported, foreign talent isn't always good or suitable
for the job at hand. This Bombay veteran was such a
miserable creature that on launch night, with editor
Mohan Rao shouting his head off, one was forced take
charge and ensure that we got the paper to the press.

But no mention of this paper's launch can be complete
without a mention of the role Gomantak editor Narayan Athawale
 played. While generally supportive of the idea of the
newspaper in the early days, including recommending the
hiring of staff whose knowledge of the language was
less than adequate, he almost knocked the paper off its
feet before it was launched.

For this the late Mr Rao was to blame; but it was an
innocent mistake. A few days before the launch, Mr Rao
asked Mr Athawale to write a piece for the new
newspaper -- it remains the only one he ever did.

And with good reason.

In it, he proceeded to say that the new newspaper would
convey the views of the Marathi Gomantak in English. It
was a ridiculous claim; but something that the new
newspaper took years to live down. This proved to be a
real gift to the paper's rivals, which they exploited
to good effect.

The early days with GT were fun, because most people
didn't give us much of a chance. Our staff resources
too were meagre. There was Pramod Khandeparker, who was
the Assistant Editor but was more of a chief reporter;
and a retired English professor M.N. Pal as news editor
-- who spent a few months with us -- and G.K. Mohan Nair,
the ToI sub.

Ex-Herald colleagues included Francis Ribeiro. And
among the trainees was my good friend Vidya Heble. But
most of the staff were raw and we stumbled along in
those early days. The first year passed with GT barely
making a dent. I believe that the paper's circulation
barely exceeded a few hundred copies. And as the second
anniversary approached, Mr Mohan Rao was preparing to
say his goodbye. He original brief was to set up the
paper and leave after two years.

This set the stage for Ashwin Tombat to take charge of
the paper. And immediately we began to see a dramatic
change in the paper's fortunes. Of course, we were
helped along by the Narvekar molestation scandal. But
to be fair, it's not the issue that matters, but how
you handle it. If we did manage to raise our
circulation it was because of our reporting. Some in
media, did take exception to the fact that we named the girl.

But I feel it was needed then, specially if you have
are up against a powerful political figure. For those
who still doubt this view, I can only point to the way
the Miramar sex scandal died down without the guilty
being brought to book. However, one is not suggesting
that the victim in sex abuse cases should be named. The
only reason I have raised this issue is to explain why
the girl was named.

Sorry for digressing; but another turning point in the
history of paper came in 1993 when we were faced with a
contempt notice from the Supreme Court. Sadly, this
proved to me that whatever a management tells you, if
you get into trouble you face it alone. In the case in
question, we were hauled up for what was taken to be a
suggestion, in a cartoon, that a Supreme Court judge
was being bribed to adjourn a hearing in a case related
to the disqualification of then chief minister Ravi Naik.

How I got involved in the matter -- even though it was
my day off -- is another matter. But the real icing on
the cake was that what the court claimed we had
suggested in the cartoon apparently was the truth.
Unknown to us then, a colleague in our sister newspaper
had apparently tried to bribe a judge. But the deal had
fallen through because the judge wanted more money than
the politician was willing to pay. The story came out
when the journalist apparently did not return all the
money that he was given by politician and claimed he
had incurred "expenses".

Ravi Naik ultimately resigned, ironically after himself
losing an appeal against his disqualification in the
Supreme Court; and I was cleared of contempt charges.

Two years later I left GT.

But the memories remain.


Chapter 14:
An era of free sheeters

Miguel BraganzaHaving an educated father with a flair for speaking and
writing helps : Miguel's is a typical case study. As a
school student of St.Britto, his contributions to the
school magazine were like a celebrity column -- ghost
written by his father! His first original contribution
to the printed word was in a tabloid, bilingual 'free
sheeter' of sorts called the 'Vanguard' ('O Vanguardo')
in the mid 1970s. While at the University of
Agricultural Sciences,Bangalore, he was a
founder-member of the "Writers' Club" and one-time
Editor of the FYM: the Farm Yard
Manure..ooops...Magazine. Since then, Miguel has been
Goa University's first and only Garden Superintendent.
He took to writing more seriously after getting in
touch with journos in local newsrooms. He became the
first Consulting Editor of the Mapusa Plus free-sheeter
in July 2001.

Just imagine a user-driven economy in which the user
has to only pay attention; absolutely nothing else.
This improbable scenario has arrived in an increasingly
consumerist society with the birth of the 'free sheeter
', now making their presence felt in Goa too.

Unlike the mainstream broad-sheet and tabloid
newspapers, the user can take home a free-sheeter free
of cost and with no obligation, save the ethical one to
read it. There is no fine print to this free offer. The
offer does not read 'Do not pay anything for it now'
nor 'Nothing free'. The reader obtains a copy of the
free sheeter absolutely free of any financial
consideration, present or future.

There is also a greater freedom of expression in a free
sheeter since the publication is not tied to the apron
strings of a business house or interest group with
vested interests. The degree of freedom available to
the editor is almost boundless, though within the
limits of decency, propriety and libel laws. The editor
cannot be allowed to declare freedom from good sense
and decency. This is possible only because of the
multifaceted funding base that finances the free
sheeter and, often, the dedication of the editorial
team. A free-sheeter does not have to toe a line that
many of its bigger cousins make their way of life.

What is a free-sheeter?

A simple description of a free-sheeter is a periodical
(daily, weekly, fortnightly or monthly) that is made
available to its readers at no financial consideration
whatsoever in terms of price, subscription, membership
or donation. (I will attempt no further definition and
I do not know is a proper definition exists for a free-sheeter.)

The lowest frequency expected of a free-sheeter is an
issue a month. Frequencies less than that tend to
render a free-sheeter irrelevant and it cannot sustain
its readership. It is the readership that justifies the
existence of a free sheeter and helps to draw funds to
finance its publication. The existence of the
readership is the raison d'etre of a free-sheeter.

News Content: People do not lose interest in issues
just because the mainstream newspapers and tabloids do
not carry them on their front-pages. There is always an
interest in the 'positive' things happening around us.
There is as much interest in the fisherman who saved
six persons from drowning as there is in the one person
that drowned while swimming at a beach side resort. The
drowning hogs the headlines in the mainstream
newspapers and tabloids. There is 'space' in the
free-sheeter to portray the hero of the event, the
humble fisherman who saved six lives. People want to
read about him even if he saved them simply because of
an impulse, or just because he could not bear to see
them die! Bravery and courage do not need to be
pre-qualified or rationalized. Brave deeds have a
readership in the land of Rana Pratap, Rani of Jhansi
and Shivaji, just as in the land of Napoleon Bonaparte
or George Washington or Nelson Mandela or Winston Churchill.

Local news is another 'blind spot' in mainstream
newspapers. This is often the result of the need to
make the newspaper meaningful to a wider readership.
You cannot focus on details when using a wide-angle
lens in your camera. The same holds good for a
newspaper. The free-sheeter, on the other hand, can be
like the 'camera lucida' and put local issues under the
microscope and draw out all the minute details.

While the newspaper only sees a fine air-conditioned
restaurant with a fantastic menu, the free-sheeter can
note that the cook uses the same broom to sweep the
floor and also to dispense oil on the king-sized hot
plate for making your favorite 'dosa'. A good
free-sheeter can give you the details that most
newspapers have no access to. In the local context, a
free-sheeter has an advantage.

The editorial team of a free-sheeter normally comprises
of local people. It is, thus, in a better position to
understand local nuances, culture and tradition. For
example, a woman who is topless may cause a riot in our
metropolitan cities; in some tribal areas, remote
Polynesian communities or the beach-front from Hawaii
to the Riviera, a topless woman may not even cause
anyone to raise an eyebrow, except if she is
exceedingly beautiful! The local perspective makes a
free-sheeter interesting to the local readership
because they can identify with it.

Local issues are of great interest to local readership.
What is being done about the water pipeline leak is
important to those living on the first floor of
buildings in the locality. Poor pressure in the
pipeline means that the water will have to go to a sump
and then be pumped up. Besides the cost, time and
effort, this could also lead to increased contamination
of water. A small pipeline leak in a neighbourhood has
no news value to a mainstream newspaper. It means the
world to the people in the locality that is affected.
Such issues have local news value and, hence, the
justification of a greater emphasis on local
readership. This is where a free-sheeter can step in.

Editorial Content: The right place to express one's
views is in the editorial and in the feed-back column.
It may be regarding the news or current issues or some
other matter of importance to the readers at that point
of time. The fact that a significant section of the
readership skips reading the editorial should make the
editors sit up and assess the relevance of the
editorials they write, or get written on their behalf.
Just as the front page is the 'face' of the periodical,
the editorial should be its 'heart', not a vestigial
organ like the appendix.

In the free-sheeter context, it would be appropriate to
put the editorial through the 'Four Way Test': "1. Is
it the truth? 2. Is it fair to all concerned? 3. Will
it built goodwill and better friendship? 4. Will it be
beneficial to all concerned?" The editorial is about
opinions. The editor's views should not create ill-will
between possible groups in the local milieu. It can
have disastrous consequences for both, the readers and
the publishers.

Advertorial Content: The term 'advertorial' is fairly
new to me. It is the presentation of an advertisement
'outside the box'. The advertorial content of many
periodicals, both free and paid, has evolved so rapidly
that it is sometimes difficult it to separate it from
the news items. The 'lakshman rekha' (sacrosanct
dividing line) between the two has even blurred further
and some journalists palm off advertorials as 'news'.
The 'line of control' may have to be redefined before
newspapers become like the souvenirs issued at various
social events -- comprising almost entirely of
advertisements. This is specially true for a
free-sheeter that depends solely on advertising to
finance its publication. The temptation is great. Yield
to it with open arms and you will perish.

Advertisements: Front page advertisements vie with the
news items for space. Sometimes, the fascination with
the ear panels diminishes the prominence of even the
mast-head, the very name of the publication. Since the
cost of a front page advertisement is double (or more)
that of one on the inside pages, the temptation is to
accept maximum number of front page advertisements. It
is a constant battle between funds and readability,
between wealth and credibility. It is not rare to see
Mammon win the battle and it shows on the 'face' of the
free-sheeter that has two-thirds advertisements and
just one-third news content on page one.

Mast-head: The mast-head is the name-plate of the
periodical. Unlike the name of a person, whose traits
we do not know at birth, the name of a newspaper is
indicative of its purpose or focus. (For example, the O
Heraldo was the harbinger of news in Goa during the
pre-Liberation era and continues to this day with a
Goan accent; the Navhind Times brought in more national
level -- and nationalist -- news after 1961 ,while the
Gomantak Times has more of a state level flavor.)

Among the free-sheeters published in Goa, Vasco Watch
keeps a watchful eye on the happenings in Vasco while
the Plus group sheds 'positive light' on Mapusa,
Panaji, Margao and Ponda. A lot of thought goes into
condensing of the 'mission statement' of a newspaper or
periodical into two or three, easy-to-remember words.
The name seems easy in hindsight, but requires
considerable foresight and thinking to arrive at.

The mast-head must not only be good, it must look good,
too.

Proper designing of the mast-head, including the
selection of the font, is imperative. Ideally, the
mast-head should not be changed during the lifetime of
the periodical, even if the page design and layout is
changed to increase its visual appeal. The mast-head
must be the single-most prominent item on page one. All
attributes of the publication must be associated with
its mast-head. Once you see it, you must remember its
worth, its credibility and its readability.

Footer: The footer of a newspaper or free-sheeter comes
in fine print at the bottom of the last page. It is
inconspicuous to the casual reader. It gives the
details of the publisher, editor(s) and printer. This
is mandatory by law. In libel and defamation cases,
these names become the 'defendants' along with the
correspondent under whose by-line the news was
published. The Advertisements Standards Council of
India (ASCI) also knows who, besides the advertiser, to
go after for violation of the law. The footer also
gives the registration number of the newspaper with the
Registrar of Newspapers (RNI). Every free-sheeter has
to apply for registration through the District
Collector. The organization distributing and issuing
the free-sheeter is not free from responsibilities. The
footer is an acknowledgment that it knows its business
and how to mind it.

Organization: A free-sheeter is not like a
free-wheeling collection of articles and news reports.
Like any periodical it has to be organized into
sections like current news, issues, campus and club
news, entertainment, competitions, brain teasers, and
the like. Such a grouping of information makes it
easier to find the item one is looking for. A person
will first glance through the page that is likely to
contain information of interest to him or her. If it is
interesting, the copy will be picked up. Free-sheeters
are generally not 'delivered' at home; so each issue
has to pass the clinical test of reader's interest.

Layout: A tasty dish that is not presented well may be
left untouched on the buffet table. The same is the
case with a free-sheeter at the news stands or
distribution counter. It is not a monopoly. People who
have a choice exercise it. A good blend of visuals
(photos, illustration, and the like) and text makes a
copy appealing. Even advertisements can be used to
achieve this. If the publication has access to a layout
artist, it helps.

 Advent of Free sheeters in Goa

Perhaps the first free-sheeter to hit Goa was Vasco
Watch, edited by Cmdr (Retd) A. Narayanan who is
associated with the group Citizen's Watch. His attempt
at Margao News was not half as successful, basically
because there was no significant local involvement and
input in Margao. Local involvement is the essence of a
free-sheeter. Perhaps, the Salcete News spread the
'local' context too wide and did not do too well, either.

Coming to North Goa, the pioneer was Panjim Pulse. In
my opinion it did not place its finger properly on the
pulse of the citizens in this thriving town and its
municipal council (now corporation). Its readership
should have crossed the ten thousand copies mark by
now, but the Panjim Pulse is nowhere to be seen. It
does not have a 'presence' that is so important for
survival. More than a year later came Panjim Plus,
which is doing reasonably well as a monthly
newsmagazine. Obviously, it could do better. Panaji is
such a 'happening' place that a weekly free-sheeter
could grow comfortably covering the cultural events,
exhibitions, sales, educational scene, etc. Perhaps,
the would-be journalists from the non-formal courses in
journalism at the Mushtifund Institute and elsewhere
will 'jam-up' to fill this void sooner rather than later.

The Plus series began with the Mapusa Plus on July 04,
2001, first as a fortnightly and later, after crossing
the quarter-century mark, as a monthly newsmagazine.
The trigger for this paper was a college student,
Rohini Swamy, who made a foray into journalism like a
meteor. She did so, before moving off as quickly, after
moving through a couple of local newsrooms. (Rohini is
back reporting for an outstation TV network, posted in
Goa.) It was Sapna Sardesai who sustained Mapusa Plus
production, while her co-directors in Wordsworth Communications
 Ltd. led by Lester Fernandes generated the revenues by
'marketing' advertisement space. This writer have been
associated with this free-sheeter as its consultant
editor and mid-wife from the very first issue. Two
years and a little re-structuring later, the labour
pains are visible in Mapusa Plus, but, after 35 odd
issues, I do not know whether the issue will be
delivered or aborted. There is little that a midwife
can do if there is a congenital complication.

The Plus group also entered the Margao area
simultaneously with Panjim in December 2001. The Margao Plus
 is as robust as its publisher, Roque Fernandes. From
August 2003, he has fathered the Ponda Plus through a
new partner, Diamond Publications. The Ponda Plus is
the first free-sheeter to start off with glossy art
paper and colour printing, not the humble black
printing on grey newsprint paper of all its
forerunners. It has got no competitors in its class in
Goa. The Ponda Plus has raised the ante. It has got
class, it has got good readership and it is still free.
Hard work pays, hard sell pays better. Roque is doing
both: hard work and hard sell. The results are visible
in black and white -- and in colour! The challenge now
is to do better than that and still be free.

What makes a free-sheeter tick: Ask any good physician
and he (or, as per the recent trend in MBBS graduation,
she) will tell you that one's circulation must be good.
Whether it is blood, air or free-sheeter, your health
depends on its 'circulation'. There is no other way. A
well produced free-sheeter is easier to circulate
because it is free. Once it has attracted the attention
and reached the hands of a potential reader, it will be
glanced through even if it is not read in detail.

That is a wonderful way to deliver a well-designed
advertisement to a potential buyer of any goods or
services. It makes more sense for a local shopkeeper or
institution to advertise in a 'local' free-sheeter than
a state-wide newspaper with ten times bigger
circulation (and, subsequently, far higher advertising
rates). Most free-sheeters have a circulation of 3,000
to 5,000 copies, a figure which ranks better than some
mainstream newspapers in Goa. A free-sheeter is a
better vehicle, less expensive and less bothersome to
handle than a 'flier' inserted in a newspaper for local
distribution. A flier is often discarded unread. Not so
with a free-sheeter. It pays to advertise in a
free-sheeter. The advertisements pay to keep the
free-sheeter alive and free.

Miguel Braganza Consultant Editor & Horticulturist,
Mapusa Goa.


Chapter 15:
Journalism in Goa: An outsider looks in

Shiv KumarShiv Kumar is a Mumbai-based journalist who
occasionally para-drops into Goa for some sun, sea and
opportunities to tilt at a few windmills there. A
journalist, a freelance and subsequently as a
full-timer since 1992, Shiv Kumar was the Goa
correspondent of The Indian Express from 1998 to 2000.
After moving back to Mumbai, he is with the Indo-Asian
News Service (IANS).

Today, happily there is a vast talent pool of
journalists among the Goan Diaspora that is making its
mark in news media across the world. The movement of
journalists from Goa to newsrooms across the globe is
perennial. The Middle East and the West are popular
destinations but then so is Mumbai: a popular stepping
stone to this peripatetic breed. Reporters, deskies,
the butterflies flitting through the features pages...
one can count first generation migrant Goans everywhere.

As a rookie reporter in Mumbai in the 1990s, lesson one
was about Goan journos fresh off the boat (the
Bombay-Goa steamer was a recent memory then) gladly
beginning at the bottom despite having done duty in one
of Goa's three English-language newspapers. Editors
marveled at the `material' coming out of Goa with
well-rounded exposure in a city where people are
quickly slotted into different 'beats'.

At first, one wondered why someone with several years'
experience in the profession was willing to take the
bullshit dished out by preppies all for a measly six
grand gross monthly. And just when we got used to
seeing their bylines, off to the Gulf the Goenkars went.

The penny dropped much later when one moved to Goa on
assignment. Poor pay and lousy working environments
surely could not make up for Goa's fabled joys of life.
But then Mumbai's charms too quickly faded in the face
of the daily grind one had to endure. So it was only a
matter of time before the Goans pulled up their posts
and set sail Westwards, to the Middle East and to other
uncharted territories.

One doesn't have to go too far -- only till the Goajourno
 Mailing List
(http://indialists.org/mailman/listinfo/goajourno) --
to figure out how far the hack pack from Goa go. They
are out there in Bangkok bringing out a jumbo newspaper
for a community that can barely read English. In Fiji,
from where the Indian population flees after every coup
d'etat, journos of Goan origin move in the reverse
direction. In Stockholm, it was a Goan journalist who
found himself on the headlines while trailing the
killers of a Swedish Prime Minister.

So why do journalists from Goa bloom only on alien
terrain?

A conversation I had with the venerable Lambert Mascarenhas
 comes to mind. Just settling in for a long chat at
someone's house at Dona Paula, Mascarenhas asked me why
I was not trying my luck outside. I told him about the
variety of experience I enjoyed as a journalist, the
wide range of stories I could do and the opportunities
to travel though the profession paid only slightly more
than my earlier employer, the government.

Free Goa's first English-language editor sighed, nodded
his head wisely and told me no newspaper in Goa would
ever send out a reporter even to cover a major event.
"And the money is so much better... the Gulf newspapers
pay so much more," Mascarenhas told me. Perhaps
Mascarenhas would have thought differently had
newspaper owners in Goa exhibited more commitment to
professionalism. Just browsing through the back issues
of Goa Today edited by Manohar Shetty proved to be an
eye-opener on what could have been.

With Devika Sequiera and others, the old Goa Today
turned out to be a delightful surprise. Well researched
and crisply written stories like the ones on the
protests against charter tourism in the early 1990s
were a joy to read long after the magazine became a
pale shadow of itself.

One saw similar flashes of the classic fire in the
belly kind of journalism during the agitation against
Meta Strips metal recycling plant four years ago. But
matters have since slipped back into the safe routine
of old. While mediapersons elsewhere in the country are
agitated over the loss of substance to the infusion of
style and gloss in the age of colour, it's prolonged
siesta time in Goa.

The English-language newspaper market ensures that the
readership is carved equally among both the players.
Just 2000 copies separate the number one daily oHeraldo
and the runner-up Navhind Times as per the latest Audit
Bureau of Circulation survey. But with neither of them
aiming to break out for total dominance there is little
investment either in editorial or in printing technologies.

Though tourism is major contributor to Goa's revenues,
the newspapers offer little to a visitor. The colour
and vitality of the tiny state simply does not reflect
in its English-language newspapers. Though it is the
beach belt that draws all the tourists, there is very
little coverage from these areas in the local
newspapers. As one senior journalist remarked to me,
Goa moves simultaneously on two parallel lines. And the
beach belt is a whole world away from the hinterland
that provides all of Goa's journalists. So the hotels
and the party scene appear rarely on their radar, and
that too only when disgruntled politicians in the area
rake up environmental or other issues.

There is a thriving party scene on the beach belt that
could have been happening on some other planet going
strictly by the newspapers in Goa. Purely as a
marketing play, newspapers here should be allocating
resources to ensure adequate coverage of the tourism
sector. There are any number of marketers eager to tap
the floating tourist population and the newspapers here
missing out on big opportunities.

But then even the coverage of day to day issues in
Goa's English-language newspapers leaves much to be
desired. During the two years I spent in Goa, I can
remember barely three or four memorable stories from
the state's three English-language newspapers. The
regional language newspapers, on the other hand, have
stolen a march over their English-language counterparts
as publications of record. A comprehensive coverage of
Goa, aided by a network of stringers spread all over
the state, ensured that the Marathi Tarun Bharat was a
newspaper of choice for anyone looking for a bird's
eye-view of Goa every morning.

Tarun Bharat's strategy to topple existing market
leader Gomantak by investing in people and technology
makes an interesting case study in the newspaper
business. With very little marketing muscle on the
lines of the Times group or Dainik Bhaskar to speak of,
the newspaper simply worked at reporting from the
grassroots to capture a leadership position in the
market. That Tarun Bharat has still not found favour
among Goa's Marathi-speaking intelligentsia is another story.

On the other hand, Goa's English-language newspapers
have sold out to petty politicians and the mining
lobbies as weightier examples from other contributors
to this e-book indicate. Lethargy runs so deep that
there is little coverage of even the staples like
society, courts, crime and health that form the
backbone of newspapers all over the world. Owners of
English-language newspapers here are so indifferent
that the photographers on the rolls have to bring their
own cameras to work -- something unheard off in the
mainstream media.

So the big stories in Goa are buried in two-para
dispatches from the mofussils. I still cannot figure
out why the dispute between a section of gaunkars in Cuncolim
 and the Catholic Church received poor display in Goan
newspapers. Here was a big story of unresolved caste
conflicts that transcended religious conversion and
economic prosperity spread over half a millenium. Let
alone dwell on the academic angles in the edit pages,
Goa's English-language newspapers, barring the Herald,
downplayed the story. Even Herald's reportage consisted
of allegations and counter allegations from interested
parties with out any indepth coverage. I am happy to
say that my then newspaper, The Indian Express played
up my stories on the episode prominently as the anchor
on the front page nationally. Unfortunately even after
the national and international media picked it up,
there was little improvement in the coverage by the
local press.

Another story played out as a farce in Goa's
English-language newspapers: when former chief minister
Shashikala Kakodkar's estranged husband passed away,
the news received prominent display in all the major
English-language newspapers. Only the lady's
relationship with the deceased was suppressed in the obit!

With complete censorship, voluntary or otherwise, Goan
journalists seem to exist in a blissful state of
non-competitiveness. Trained to break stories and score
one on the competition, I was amazed at the unofficial
news pool system that operates at the Press Room at the
Panjim Secretariat. The twice-daily 'edit meets' at the
Adil Shahi palace ensures that only the very junior
reporters intimidated by the Press Room circle break
stories of any importance. One could depend on the
juniors at The Herald and Gomantak Times (under Ashwin Tombat
) to put out at least one readable story a day.

Understandably, Goa's newspapers survive on a staple of
political verbiage all generated from the safe confines
of the Press Room. Unverified allegations that would
not pass muster with even a trainee in a national
newspaper find play on the front pages. With no
facility to train journalists in the state, trainees
here look towards the Press Room as some kind of a
finishing school!

Over the years, the Press Room crowd have attached
themselves to the camps of different politicians. It's
a temptation common to journalists in every small town
and Goan journalists have fallen neck deep in it. With
nothing exciting enough, politics becomes the
all-consuming passion for 'senior journalists'. So the
current storm over journalists accused of obtaining
favours from the current BJP-run dispensation comes as
no surprise.

It has always been easy for journalists to be sucked
into different political camps considering the
proliferation of politicians in the state. There are 40
MLAs, three MPs -- including one in the Rajya Sabha --
and scores of municipal/panchayat level 'leaders' for a
population of less than 1.4 million which includes the
Gulfies and shippies).

Even junior reporters easily manage to invite a
minister or two for family functions. Journalists are
also not above seeking the help of politicians to solve
problems even in their workplaces. Many of them even
grow to depend on the ruling politicians for basics
like accommodation in the capital because of inadequate
remuneration from their employers.

It's the same story everywhere in the country, but the
sheer number of journalists in a big city like Mumbai
or Delhi helps mask the dilution of ethics among a
select few. Like everywhere else in the world a few
journalists in Goa too happily combine their jobs and
elective roles as fixers for politicians. The icing on
the cake is however to inveigle into a chief minister's
coterie thereby ensuring government contracts for self
or family members.

Under the chief ministership of Manohar Parrikar, the
issue has hit the headlines especially after Rajan Narayan
 announced his resignation from the Herald (in
September 2003). But during his days in the opposition,
Parrikar slogged at wooing the media. As leader of the
Opposition, Parrikar could be depended upon to come up
with all sorts of files to put the then Congress
government on the mat. Journalists looking for a juicy
story never returned disappointed. To be fair to
Parrikar he did not even hint about the need for a quid
pro quo from the journalists tapping him for
information on the then Congress government.

Journalists who are now accused of obtaining favours
from the incumbent chief minister were even then known
to be part of Parrikar's coterie, though a large number
of journalists sought out the former leader of the
opposition. However with the media eating out of his
hands, Parrikar had the mantle of Mr Clean wrapped on
his shoulders -- either by design or by default. One
now gets the feeling that a small group of journalists
probably played a part in building Parrikar's
reputation with the expectations of being paid back at
an appropriate time. Agreed, there is genuine
admiration for the man -- IIT Bombay alumni, quick
acting, with a vision for the middle class, etc. But
the cause of good journalism is compromised.

Today, there is very little criticism coming up against
the ruling BJP government in Goan newspapers. For
instance, there has been very muted coverage of some
elements in Parrikar's cabinet -- like a minister who
is rumoured to be pushing illegals into Europe. Another
worthy has a reputation of being a ruthless moneylender
whose rumored 'sex scandals' could even put Jalgaon to
shame, as the BJP leadership is itself known to have
once argued.

The kid-glove treatment meted out to the BJP government
has also been extended to the extend Sangh parivar,
despite the ideological opposition to it in many
sections of the Goan society. Parrikar's handing over
government schools to unregistered groups of alleged
RSS-linked activists barely registers a presence in
local discourse even among members of the minority
Christian community traditionally opposed to right-wing
Hindu politics.

While the reluctance of local newspapers to rattle the
ruling politicians is understandable, there is really
no reason for correspondents of outstation newspapers
to follow suit. But for a couple of honorable
exceptions, correspondents with outstation publications
too have decided to toe the government line.
Unfortunately for Goa, the market is too small to
attract the attention of any national or international
investor in the media scene.

Most of the quarter-million or so households in Goa who
can afford to do so, already buy a newspaper and a new
investor can only hope to net a marginal increase in
circulation. The failure of The Times of India to
penetrate the Goan market is a case in point. With its
financial muscle, the Times was best placed to shake up
the Goan market. Even while skirting controversial
issues, the newspaper could have made an impact with a
comprehensive coverage of Goa. But the newspaper
clearly did not see it worthwhile to continue and
pulled out after a four-year long presence, and 'Goa
edition' plans, in the state.

Even the Sakal group, the other outside group to enter
Goa, has not been able to figure out the
English-language newspaper market here. Having bought
over the Gomantak from the Chowgules, the Sakal group
does not seem to be interested in making big-ticket
investments in the English-language Gomantak Times. As
Goa's third English-language daily continues to bleed,
there is a very strong possibility that there would be
one less player in the English language market in the
near future.

One can only hope that increased competition following
the entry of foreign publications in India provides
enough incentives for future players to dig their heels
deeper into the Goan market. Hopefully, national
players in the media business and expatriate Goans will
see a market in selling quality journalism in Goa.


Chapter 16:
An accidental Bhailo

Rahul GoswamiRahul Goswami, one of Goa's most hardworking and
innovative outstation correspondent, covered this state
for the Business Standard, in the mid-nineties. He is
today based in Singapore. On a lighter note, RG says he
was offered, several times during his stint in Goa,
bribes by various colleagues envious of his posting as
inducement to trade places with them. Instead, he went
to Bombay to quarrel with newspaper vendors, went to
the Gulf to start up a dot-bomb, went to Singapore to
learn Mandarin, and is now wondering if those bribes
are still on offer.

Arriving to live and work in 'aparanta' -- a place
beyond the end, as the Sanskrit texts would have us
believe, where time stands still -- was always going to
be a challenge for the conscientious newspaper
correspondent. Even when one does not do so blind, as I
comforted myself in 1993.

It was Goa Dourada, Golden Goa, Perola do Oriente,
Pearl of the East, Roma do Oriente, and other such
colourfulness that I was being assigned to. The imagery
was breath-taking -- corsairs, corruption and
conversions. There were heart-warming tales of gruff
compassion -- whether from the dashing Marathas or
their debonair Portuguese rivals. There were edgy
accounts of the rivalries of contentious nationalisms,
delicious stories of grand thievery, fabulous stories
of immoral profligacy, of debauched viceroys who
equalled in pomp and splendour the Asian potentates
they dealt with.

This was, I thought to myself, the stuff of a hundred
feature stories, the mother-lode of post-colonial
memorabilia, the gateway to phantasmagorical
explorations. Indeed they were, but in no way that I
had imagined at the outset, overcome then by the
cultural fecundity of 'aparanta'. Imaging Goa, as a
curious ingenue, as a journalist, as an informed
participant, has never been an easy task and indeed is
one that has grown more onerous over the years.

Indeed the provenance of such a view is a curious one,
and yet one that is well-known. The widespread tendency
in Western writing of India -- and, by extension, of
Goa -- has been to condense the description of the
scenic beauty and natural resourcefulness, the
cosmopolitan life and the imagined mercantile
prosperity of the early colonial period, into
pastel-coloured, palatable images. So it is too with
Goa Dourada, or Golden Goa.

The Goa that has been perpetuated in the newsrooms of
the media conglomerates of urban India -- an English
construction, I would like to emphasise -- has even now
more in common with the hazy feel-good miasma that
occulted the communal perceptions of the dharma bum
generation that made its way from the West, in a slow
and tortuous ganja-laden, booze-sodden crawl, through
the tolerant places of the 'Third World'. The
difference was, and is, that the dharma bums smoked and
drank and blissfully fornicated under the moonlight
that bathed the silvery beaches of 'aparanta' and
dreamt of equality and human emancipation (to be fair
to many of them).

The news editors and feature editors and
editors-in-chief and numberless marketing imbeciles who
chose to imagine Goa, within the narrow and noisome
worlds that defined their own existences in the
megapolis of their choosing, had on the other hand no
such overarching humaneness, despite generous
applications of all that is narcotic and alcoholic.
'Aparanta', I found, may welcome all comers, but it
also encourages those processes that sift out the unbelievers.

How, I asked myself, is one to distinguish? What is the
Goan-ness that one is seeking to understand and, if
possible, to give substance to in a 1,200-word report
(under the illiterate regimes that run newsrooms these
days, that is a torrent of words)? Can one encapsulate
all that seeks to be distilled by this multitude of
experiences, of personal encounters, by listening to
the narratives of the histories of Goa? And when one
does become an ideological sympathiser of the dharma
that is 'aparanta', how can one convey it to the
hard-eyed stewards who rule over the column centimetres
in Bombay or Delhi?

It was a question that had no simple answer. My own
method was to attempt to blend in with the rhythms of
the village in which I lived, Betim, which lies across
the river Mandovi, opposite Panaji. The river is like a
slow-moving artery that expresses Goa -- the rusting,
elderly ferries of the River Navigation Department chug
across the gap with a ponderous regularity, and in
doing so determine the schedules of legions of Goans
who live within a short bus ride of the water --
'aparanta' tends not to respect time-pieces worn on
one's wrist.

In this I was marginally successful. Mahadeo was one of
my neighbours -- a generously-bellied Betim elder who
with surprising agility climbed into his canoe and laid
his meagre nets along the river shallows. Mahadeo was
also adept at catching river crabs, and when one
morning I found a pair -- neatly trussed and no more
than two hours old -- squirming outside my front door I
realised with a thrill that I was accepted by the Betim-kars.

Mahadeo -- despite his belly a very handsome man with a
tanned visage crowned by a mop of white curls, with a
commanding presence and possessing an enviable facility
with a little skiff barely a foot across -- was only
one of a series of revelations. There were the nearby
family Bhosale, whom I had been warned "were trouble",
the "rowdy boys" of the village who tended to be
destructive, the crooked 'possorkars' from whom I would
be forced to purchase my groceries. The roll-call of
potential villains was long indeed.

All unfounded. The rhythms of 'aparanta', as they found
this 'bhailo' in Betim, ensured harmony. My dilemma
was, how might I convey this to urban-bred news editors
who have little tolerance for a mofussil
correspondent's rural romanticism, as they saw it?
Sometimes, fortune intervenes. In my case, while
reporting for Business Standard, it came in the form of
C P Kuruvilla, to my mind the most super-aware news
editor of the last two decades.

Kuru, as we called him, was (he has voluntarily
withdrawn from the circus that is print media, hence
'was') a maverick before the term found fashion, and
was so within the relatively severe environs of the
Ananda Bazar Patrika. Kuru provided the intellectual
get-up-and-go that impelled a legion of correspondents
to hit the road in search of stories that were to
become memorable ones, and even more remarkable, was
able to do so in the context of a mainstream business newspaper.

Will you find a Kuru nowadays? No, is the likely
answer. Editors, sad to say, tend to be almost
uniformly useless. It is left to the greater community
of journalists to provide the context, the space, the
encouragement, and the means. The encouragement,
context and professional support has perforce now to
come from within. This working alternative has not only
become desirable, it has become imperative for for the
non-sarkari journalists.

The problem is a systemic one today; there should have
been manuals passed on, but system administrators have
deleted them. Where binaries perish, we must turn to
mnemonics. There was a time when some of us in The
Sunday Observer successfully ran a tactical media
counter-insurgency within the framework.

An immediate provocation at the time was a faux
editorial regime presided over by an imposter named
Pritish Nandy. Every Friday (dak edition) and every
Saturday (city edition) we would have to redefine and
re-take our territory and remind the insurgents that
they had no place in it. It was hard work -- outright
threats and go-slows, files full of protest notes and
minutes of meetings, and the halting evolution of a
code that cut across the barriers that traditionally
define a functioning news organism. I think it worked
well at the time -- the guerrillas who did this are
still here.

Our questions were basic -- why can sanitation not be
"sold"? Why can education not be? Labour not be? Health
not be? The elderly not be? That this not only assumes
but reflects the dreadful significance of "sold"
indicates why we still need guerrillas in the newsroom.
These guerrillas, if they still exist and can still be
drafted, will come up against some formidable mantras.
"All things are more or less of equal import: all are
only daily" is one. If you ask one of the system
administrators she will reply: "All data are equal, but
some are more equal than others."

That is why, we are reminded by those who give the
system administrators their wages, the media have
produced their own heroines and myths, which can
compete with the traditional ones and moreover happily
embroider over them. I was once advised that
"journalism asks us to invest in the stock-market of
momentary sensation". After such sexualist reduction,
what forgiveness?

The difficulty lies in the accepted impermanence of our
art, our skill, and the relentless transformation of
today's news feature into tomorrow's newsprint into the
day after tomorrow's wrapping paper for pakodas. The
media that we construct (from the point of view of the
consumer, and the brokers who interpose themselves
between writer and audience) offers titillating
speculations on danger, scandal, death, nightmare, opportunity.

Like a television talk-show host tripping loquaciously
on industrial-strength amphetamines, it rattles noisily
on, uncaring of the quiet interjections about
sanitation, infant mortality, unreported police
atrocities, tribal communities flooded out of their
homes. And that is so both in an India that has
reclaimed 'aparanta' without caring to know the
topography of Goa, as it is in the desolate urban
scapes that seek to define the middle classes who --
reliable sources say -- are the new India that seeks to spend.

The rules of the game have changed and we do need a new
set of guerrillas. Newsroom disobedience is not what it
used to be (is it at all what it was?). Who is willing
to explore the new paradigm? It is so easy to stay in
the bunker of assurances. No conclusions, no certainty;
only performance analyses, management matrices, and
practical wagers. We really do need a bunch of newsroom
narkasurs here.

Can one seek for and hope for such a dimension in Goa?
Will 'aparanta' provide it? Not readily. Early in my
apprenticeship as a correspondent in Goa I ran into the
local brand of sarkari thought. It was one of those
endless afternoons in the old press room, the one in
the corner of the Idalcao. A minion from one of the
chambers above clattered in through the swing doors and
muttered something. He was half asleep and so were the
occupants of the press room, those who were not
wrestling with the typewriters.

We all streamed out, following the minion. Through the
wooden security gate we filed, the one that is supposed
to detect the presence of suspicious metal objects on
one's person, and up the stairs we climbed. Across a
landing whose timbers had been scuffed shiny by the
passage of tired footwear, then down a verandah over
which hung tattered pieces of plastic in an ugly and
half-hearted attempt to keep out the rain. And finally
into some functionary's room.

It turned out to be occupied by some minister, who
lolled indulgently behind a desk. He was Luizinho Faleiro,
before he became a big wheel, but who was even at the
time odious. We chose seats. Greasy khitmutgars passed
amongst us, proferring cups of tea and soggy biscuits.
Luizinho grinned a sepulchral grin, as if privately
awaiting the demise of one or another of those who had
just seated themselves. Then, as if disappointed by the
absence of such drama, he coughed and began.

"I have called you here," he announced brusquely, "to
comment on..." and there followed some dull government
programme or the other. Luizinho, with another
graveyard grin, then collected his belly, cleared his
throat and barked: "Take down!". And then proceeded to
provide what I can only call dictation. To the credit
of about a third of his audience, they did not whip out
a notebook to scribble. The rest, shamefully, played
the part of stenographers. It was my first encounter
with the Establishment's view of the Press, and of the
willingness of that part of the state's press to permit
such a relationship.

Luizinho was merely following tradition, just as surely
as the passage of the full barges bearing iron ore,
which announced themselves with a dull throb as the red
mineral made its way to the mouth of the Zuari and the
hungry ore carriers berthed there. For they were -- and
are -- one and the same. Government functionary and
river vessel -- both vehicles of the powers that seek
to control 'aparanta'. Does it work? Should it?

It does in fact work. Teotonio de Souza, before he
departed from the Xavier Centre of Historical Research,
had chatted with me on a few occasions. He had been,
then, as critical of the Church as he was of the
gradual change he saw in Goa's politics and
middle-class political consciousness. He had told me,
up there in the haze of one Porvorim afternoon, how he
had been amused to read that "Goans are largely a
T-shirt wearing population".

That comment came from one Arun Sinha, who was then,
and as far as I know continues to be, editor of The
Navhind Times. Teotonio seemed at first mildly
intrigued by this person's interpretation of the
Goanness of Goans. But then the historian also revealed
a resigned bitterness about what else he perceived in
the journalist's prose. "One wonders," he wrote later,
"if to be wholly Indian one has to chew 'paan' and spit
it all around, or replace T-shirts or G-shorts with
kurta-pajama or safari suit."

It is part of a misguided mission which propagates
itself apparently tirelessly and without mercy -- that
there are caricatures which continue to be attributed
to Goans. Very often, they are invented by bureaucrats
and self-styled "professionals" who want to teach Goans
to be less easy-going or less un-Indian. I suspect that
one Manohar Parrikar, the current Big Wheel in the
circus that is Goa's government of the day, is just as
keen to socially re-engineer the Goan masses. Nor is he
the first, nor most zealous of those who have wished to
do so.

The trouble for the correspondent in Goa -- zealous or
cantankerous or otherwise -- is that one never seems to
escape the impression that, in a certain way,
de-colonisation has not yet been digested. It is not
that the departure of the Portuguese is regretted
(there are exceptions, of course) but the question of
why, Portuguese colonisation remains so strenuously
berated. How is one to internalise this truth, seek to
convey to our readers the paradoxes that abound in our
reading of this beautiful, bewitching 'aparanta'? How
can one negotiate for oneself the editorial space to do so?

I do not mean this to be a disheartening preface for
the hapless correspondent who finds herself deposited
in Goa, without the benefit of an immediate
acquaintance with Peter's (St Inez), Joao's (opposite
the now notorious Hotel Neptune), or Martin's (whose
staff has long since relapsed into slumber). Given the
dismal state of the print media in India today, the
days of the full-time state correspondent seem to be
distant memories (my friend and comrade Prakash Kamat
has on the other hand proven to be remarkably resilient!).

The simple truth is that the "Goan culture" that is so
venally peddled aboard the tourist boats that
shamelessly and noisily ply the Mandovi off Panaji (how
I wish they would cease) is far from easily definable.
Cultures never do remain isolated or static, and
certainly not the seaborne cultures of which Goa,
Govapuri, Gopakapatnam, became a part.

And it is indeed true that the mechanism which
supported the 'Estado de India' nourished a very unique
place, one which internalised the life-affirming
concept behind a word redolent of the very essence of
Goan-ness, a word that resounds with wisdom -- sussegado.


Chapter 17:
Why Konkani failed its readers...

Raju NayakRaju Nayak, one of the home-grown products in
journalism that Goa can take pride in, has worked on
the newsdesks of mainstream Marathi newspapers in the
media-capital of Mumbai, has edited the Sunaparant in a
tumultous period (as this essays shows) and today tells
the story through the Indian Express to the ire of
politicians who would like a more flattering image to
be put out. Together with Devika Sequeira, he is behind
the recently launched and yet-unnamed forum that meets
monthly to discuss issues of relevance and concern to
the media profession.

If I am told to evaluate Marathi and Konkani journalism
in Goa, I would surely rank the Marathi media ahead of
its Konkani counterparts.

Despite of it being accused of creating a rift between
Hindu and Catholic masses over the issue of Goa's
merger with Maharashtra in the 1960s and 1970s, the
Marathi press has managed better to maintain the
standards of journalism. The Marathi media in Goa has
all along borne the torch of social activism, by
backing the cause of the 'bahujan samaj' or the
backward communities, and also fought hard to expose
corruption in Goa's polity.

In comparison, the Konkani press hopelessly failed to
live up to people's expectations. The only Konkani
daily, Sunaparant failed to instill journalistic values
in the Konkani media. The newspaper, which was
originally set up to promote Konkani, never became a
complete newspaper in its own right. Rather it has
become, in recent years, a platform for sections of the
Konkani language activists in Goa. The Konkani press in
general abjured professionalism in order to cosy up
with the political party in power.

On the other hand, the Marathi press was infused with a
new vitality following the launching of several new
publications at regular intervals. Gomantak, Tarun Bharat,
Navaprabha and Rashtramat have been product of
Marathi journalism flourishing in this
Konkani-dominated state.

A glance at the circulation figures of these dailies
unearth the story behind the real tastes of Goan
readers. It is estimated that Marathi newspapers
collectively sell more than 50,000 copies per day. In
comparison, the sole Konkani daily sells less than 500
copies per day.

The Goan newspaper reader's search for quality has
resulted in Tarun Bharat, for long published from
Belgaum, becoming the state's highest-read daily,
pushing even the market leader Gomantak to second place.

The success of Tarun Bharat stems from its management's
professional approach to journalism. With a wide
network of young stringers without any ideological
orientation spread across the state, Tarun Bharat
provides comprehensive coverage of Goa like no other
newspaper sold in the state. Tarun Bharat also ushered
in winds of change in the Goan media with supplements
and booklets to cater to popular tastes. While
cannibalising a large chunk of Gomantak readers, Tarun
Bharat also attracted new readers from among the youth
and women, thereby revolutionising Marathi journalism.

Gomantak's management never realised the threat posed
by Tarun Bharat till it was too late. In my opinion,
the Gomantak management's lackadaisical attitude
towards its readers worked in favour of Tarun Bharat.
For instance, Gomantak's staff strength is higher than
Tarun Bharat's, but most of them are concentrated only
in Panaji.

Tarun Bharat also invested heavily in news gathering
operations. Apart from widening its correspondents'
network, the newspaper also equipped them with
amenities like fax machines and cameras. Tarun Bharat
also set up district-level bureaus and local offices
all over the state as a strategy to source local content.

(Tarun Bharat then managed to steam-roll even smaller
newspapers like Rashtramat which lost its readership
base. Despite the backing of powerful industrialists in
Goa, Rashtramat lost out despite its history. The
newspaper, which swayed Goan thinkers during the
Opinion Poll, failed to instill a sense of
professionalism. Rashtramat is now trying to capture
lost ground with hard hitting editorials by Sitaram Tengse,
besides addition of supplements.)

Gomantak's failure in the face of Tarun Bharat's
onslaught is an example of how a market leader can fail
by sitting on its laurels. The Gomantak was originally
started in Goa to advocate the state's merger with
Maharashtra and furthering the cause of the Marathi
language. Gomantak owed much of its success to its
former editor, Madhav Gadkari. By the own admission,
Gadkari gave Gomantak a Hindu face and supported the
cause of Marathi through his speeches. Mr Gadkari's
enthusiasm, foresight and hard work were instrumental
in the growth of Gomantak. The newspaper's circulation
shot up from 3000 copies per day to 15,000 copies per
day and kept growing. His successor, Narayan Athavale,
known for his inimitable style of writing, kept up
Gadkari's legacy.

Madhav Gadkari has been always accused of fostering
pro-Maharashtra sentiments, fueling the language
controversy and creating disharmony between Goa's main
Hindu and Catholic communities. Konkani protagonists
continue to level these allegations and suspect that
Gomantak is still aiming to merge Goa with Maharashtra.
Gadkari admitted that he had come to Goa to campaign
during 1967 elections. Though initially he was not the
editor, he used to write regularly for Gomantak. In all
Gadkari spent ten years in Goa.

Despite being labelled an outsider, the Marathi press
in Goa owes its professionalism to Gadkari. He turned
Gomantak into a platform for the Goan bahujan
community. He started the Shiv Jayanti celebrations in
Goa and, in his tenure of 10 years, he fought several
intellectual and political battles.

To begin with Gadkari was very close to Goa's first
chief minister, Dayanand Bandodkar. The relationship
proved profitable, with Bandodkar leaking several
stories to Gadkari that were published prominently in
Gomantak. Later on, the two fell out, and Bandodkar
stopped government advertisements to Gomantak.
Bandodkar went on to accuse Gadkari and the Gomantak of
vitiating communal harmony in Goa, in a complaint to
the Press Council of India.

Gadkari believed that in the Vishal Gomantak (a
'greater Goa' state that included within Goa areas
outside its current boundaries) he envisaged, the rift
between Hindu and Catholic communities in Goa would be
solved peacefully.

Gomantak has played a big role in the development of
Marathi in Goa, by creating two generations of writers
and journalists in the state. In contrast, the Konkani
media failed to create an intellectual constituency in
the state.

 In Sunaparant

During my tenure as editor of Sunaparant, between 1989
and 1995, I strived to inject some amount of
professionalism in the newspaper. Unfortunately, I did
not receive the needed support from the stalwarts of
the Konkani movement. They never wanted the Sunaparant
to become a professionally-run publication. My efforts
faced severe opposition and I personally went through
acute stress.

Purshottam Kakodkar, Uday Bhembre and his group led the
movement against me. With the help of Congress
politician, and former chief minister, Ravi Naik, they
managed to have Uday Bhembre installed as Chief Editor
of the daily. Unfortunately, Uday Bhembre never had the
time for this newspaper. He just concentrated on how to
sabotage my attempts to professionalise the newspaper.

During my tenure, Sunaparant had the best of
supplements on Diwali and other occasions. We even
managed to bring out special evening editions during
Iran-Iraq war. Sunaparant's campaigns during the
agitations against the Konkan Railway and Nylon 6,6
projects was followed up by other newspapers in Goa.

We even started a fund raising drive during the 1990
Shiroda canoe disaster and helped restart the ferry
service. In addition, more than 20 books compiling
different articles, investigative series, fiction and a
dictionary was published during my tenure.

Only readers will tell whether during his eight years
tenure Uday Bhembre had taken up even a single issue
and fought it out till the end. Readers acutely felt
the non-professionalism of the product during Bhembre's period.

Bhembre held the position as Chief Editor for eight
years later when the newspaper had but lost all its
base. Sunaparant is owned by a mine owner and hence
protection of corporate interests, rather than the
fostering of Konkani, has played a big role in
Bhembre's continuation as Chief Editor at Sunaparant.

In the end, Bhembre had to go after running a series of
editorials against Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar.
Until then, the owners of Sunaparant were oblivious of
Bhembre's lethargy, inefficiency and inactivity that
took an immense toll on the newspaper. An example:
during his tenure, Bhembre failed to call even a single
meeting of staff reporters, let alone stringers.

Once again, Dattaraj Salgaocar, owner of Sunaparant,
has recently made up his mind to re-build and re-launch
the newspaper on a commercial basis. This is a welcome
step. Whatever may be the language of newspaper -- the
language is merely a tool for communication -- its
success depends on the information provided, in-depth
analysis and its commitment to important issues.

In an effort to make Sunaparant a 'mouthpiece' for
Konkani, Bhembre seems to have overlooked all these
issues. This is precisely why Bhembre had to seek the
support of a newspaper like The Navhind Times to
counter the likes of Jaisingrao Rane, despite heading
Sunaparant himself.

Needless to add, such incidents have proved detrimental
to the cause of Konkani. Almost 45 years ago, Konkani
protagonists had to depend on the crutches of Marathi
newspapers to enhance their cause. The situation is no
better today, largely due to the apathetic nature of
the leaders of the Konkani movement.

 Vital ingredients

In my opinion, the major requirements for a successful
daily newspaper are: a state-of-the-art establishment,
a steadfast commitment to the reader, comprehensive
coverage of all sections of the society, and the
ultimate aim of becoming the voice of the Goan populace.

Sadly, all these factors remained low on the priority
of Konkani protagonists. Professionalism was never on
their agenda. With an eye on the leadership of the
Konkani movement, the likes of Bhembre used the
newspaper to carry out attacks against all his
opponents during the elections to the Konkani Bhasha Mandal

Bhembre has still not given up. He is now on the
advisory board of the soon-to-be-revamped Sunaparant.
This move obviously suggests the intention of halting
the progress of the restructured newspaper.

When I took over as an Editor of Sunaparant, Uday
Bhembre, then editor, was asked to vacate his post. Not
surprisingly, this angered Bhembre. Some of his
friends, who had been pampered with free publicity,
continuously worked against me.

To illustrate how this worked, one can cite here the
example of columnist Dilip Borkar whose satirical
column "Borkari", on various ills plaguing Goa, gained
all-round popularity. Borkar had even even taken
humorous digs at me through his writings. But, that
apart the column was a masterpiece as regards its
content and the lucidity of the language was concerned.

But it hurt a number of people, and added them to my
list of enemies. Uday Bhembre, on taking charge as the
Editor, stopped this column and replaced it with
another one penned by one of his supporters. However it
did not find favor with the reader and failed miserably.

Much of my work at Sunaparant -- like a supplement on
business, in-depth analysis of important events, expert
views and analysis by experts in relation to important
events, a well compiled Sunday edition -- continues
with little change.

Dattaraj Salgaocar himself admitted that Sunaparant had
become popular with readers, but reactions from
politicians made him restless. It may be recalled that
Sunaparant had mercilessly attacked Ravi Naik for
usurping the chief ministerial gaddi (throne).

Dattaraj, being close to Naik, could not digest this
criticism. What seems to have irked Salgaocar was
Sunaparant's highlighting, on its front-page, the news
of the nomination of Vasant Pilgaonkar (a family friend
and close aide-cum-adviser of Ravi Naik) as the Goa
Public Service Commission chief.

Strongly retaliating against this, Dattaraj called for
a meeting at Pilgaonkar's residence. And Pilgaonkar, at
this meeting, lectured me on journalism. A decision to
name Uday Bhembre as the Chief Editor was finalised.
Interestingly, Bhembre is a relative of Pilgaonkar and
close to Ravi Naik.

Bhembre got a dose of his own medicine when Manohar Parrikar
 took over as chief minister. On realizing that Bhembre
refused to toe his line, Parrikar publicly blasted him,
and, in turn, Sunaparant. The age-old tradition of
industrialists supporting the government came into play
here. By the same token, Salgaocar unsurprisingly
supported Parrikar.

Most importantly, the group of journalists close to
Parrikar is now getting attracted to Sunaparant.
According to the grapevine, the government is doling
out a largesse of Rs 50 lakhs (five million rupees) by
way of advertisement revenue to Sunaparant. How can a
newspaper which expects revenue in the form of
advertisements from any incumbent government remain
loyal to its reader?

I believe, a Konkani daily has to follow an independent
line to succeed. It has to protect the interests and
self-respect of all Goans. In the process, a newspaper
like Sunaparant should not hesitate in stepping on the
toes of a section of the Konkani protagonists. Whoever
edits the newspaper should realise that a news item
killed by Sunaparant would be grabbed by the Marathi
and English-language press.

Any sort of defalcation, even if it pertains to the
darling of Konkaniwadis meaning the Goa Konkani Academy
or Asmitai Pratisthan, should necessarily find an
important place in the pages of this newspaper. And
that too, before any rival publication vigorously
pursues the issue. Various issues like the efficiency
of the teaching community, the state of education
institutions, or the pathetic condition of Konkani in
schools, have to be taken up with missionary zeal. Only
a relentless pursuit of such issues will take Sunaparant
 to the masses.

 Lessons to be learnt

It could probably draw on the lessons from the Marathi press
. It holds Marathi dear to its heart, without in any
way making reference to the Marathi movement. At a time
when veteran journalists like Gadkari and Athavale
forcefully argued the cause of Marathi, it was done
without prejudice to other issues of social and
political importance which continued to find place in
their newspaper.

Gomantak was always on the forefront in fighting
alongside Goans on vital issues that cropped up from
time to time. In my opinion, although Tarun Bharat has
a greater circulation than its immediate rival
Gomantak, I would still give full marks to the latter
for its vigorous fighting spirit.

During my involvement in the student agitation, despite
it being ideologically oriented towards our policy and
mindset, Rashtramat did not entertain us. On the
contrary, Gomantak, while holding diametrically
opposite views, gave us wide publicity. Further support
was found in the editorials. It has been the policy of Rashtramat
 and Sunaparant to always be on the side of the Establishment.

The roots of the decline of Sunaparant lies precisely
in this same policy. It has always given a wide berth
to any agitation. Given the fact that Sunaparant is a
Konkani daily, it does not necessarily mean that all
literature pertaining to and written by Konkani
litterateurs has to find a mention in it.

Sunaparant has to nurture, cultivate and discover new
journalistic talent. I was instrumental in encouraging
Marathi protagonists to write for Sunaparant. As a
resultantly, Sunaparant found readers among the
supporters of Marathi as well. Such efforts have to be repeated.

To live long, Sunaparant has to sell. The issues
highlighted by the newspaper have to be discussed, and
a conducive atmosphere in favor of the newspaper needs
to be created. Is this too much to expect?


Chapter 18:
Romi Konkani, hanging on a cliff

Peter RaposoPeter Rapose considers himself "just a five-year-old
priest" given the responsibility of editing a
seventy-year-old Konkani weekly. Says he modestly: "The
only thing I have besides my priestly studues is a
Diploma in Journalism from Xavier's Mumbai and a lot of
enthusiasm to do the best I can." The enthusiasm shows;
recently the publication he edits put up its website
(something other larger publications in Goa don't take
seriously) at http://www.v-ixtt.com. He has earlier
worked for three years in Bombay Archdiocese.

To say that Roman-script Konknni journalism did not
make a mark would be a fallacy. However, that it did
not maintain and live up to the challenges of modern
day journalism is a fact that caused its very decline.

The total number of Konknni-speaking people spread in
India (Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka and Kerala) and
scattered across smaller pockets across the world is
five million (or, 50 lakh). This population of
Konknni-speaking people is further divided between
people who write the language and read it in four
different scripts: Devnagri, Roman, Kannada, and the
Malayalam script. While the Konknni people of Kerala
use the Malayalam script and Konknni people of
Karnataka use the Kannada script, the Devanagiri and
Roman divides the Konknni people of Goa and coastal Maharashtra.

Among the four scripts, the population that understands
or follows Roman script (RS) Konknni would be around
300,000 to 400,000 approximately. (This is a rough
calculation based on the 1991 census.) However, going
by facts and figures of Konknni journalism on the
whole, we could definitely put Roman script Konknni journalism
 as the fore runner.

 A Brief History of Roman Konknni Journalism

The first Konknni weekly Udentichem Sallok was
published in Pune by Edward Bruno D'Souza in 1899. It
started as a monthly periodical which later became
fortnightly. In 1894 it was closed down. It came out in
Konknni-Portuguese. In 1891, O Luzo-Concanim was
published. It was a bilingual weekly in
Konknni-Portuguese. Aleixo Caitano Jose Francisco was
its editor.

From 1892 to 1897, A Luz, O Bombaim Esse, A Luo, O
Intra Jijent, O Opiniao Nacional Konknni-Portuguese
weeklies were published. In 1907 Sanjechem Nokhetr was
born. B F Cabral was the editor of this paper. Since it
was published from Mumbai, this paper carried Mumbai
(then called Bombay) news in detail. We can say that
this periodical is the first newspaper in Konknni.

Soon after this Roldao Noronha started a monthly named
Katolik Sovostkai, which later became a fortnightly and
then ceased publication. In 1907, Honarato Furtado and
Francis Xavier Furtado published a weekly named O Goano
from Mumbai. This weekly was independently divided into
three parts: Portuguese, Konknni and English. In 1912
Konkan Magazine a monthly magazine was started by
Joaquim Campose. In 1914, a monthly named Dor
Mhoineachi Rotti came into existence in Karachi. Fr.
Vincent Lobo and Fr. Ludovic Pereira were instrumental
in starting this magazine and it had a circulation of
8,000 subscribers. Today, the same Rotti is published
and printed in Goa; Fr. Moreno de Souza is the present
editor.

In 1916, Sebastiao Xavier Vaz started Amigo do Povo, a
Konknni-English weekly. In 1919 O Goano and O Amigo do
Povo were combined and named O Amigo do Povo Goano,
which continued as a Konknni-English weekly. Manuel
Fernandes was the editor. It stopped in 1926. In 1919,
three more periodicals were stated in Mumbai -- Ave
Maria (Konknni-English-Portuguese), edited by Antonio
D'Cruz, Goa Mail, a Konknni-English periodical edited
by Dr. Vasco da Gama and F X Afonso, and Popular
Magazine (first as monthly and then as fortnightly)
which was edited by Joaquim Jose Silvestre.

Amcho Sonvsar, a weekly, was started in 1927 by Jose
Caitan Francis De Souza. It was purely in Konknni. In
1930 Agnus Dei, a Konknni-English monthly was started
and went on being published for 13 years. Fr. Alarich
Pereira and Joaquim Felix Pereira looked after this
periodical. In the same year, Respecio Alfonso and
Roque Pereira started a weekly called Goa Times. It
came out first in Konknni-English and, then, only in
Konknni. Dr Simon C Fernandes was the editor of Goa
Times.

In 1932 Antonio Vincente D'Cruz started a small-sized
daily named Konknni Bulletin. This was published from
Mumbai and it too continued for 13 years. In 1933, Joao
Lazarus De Souza started the Goan Observer, a
Konknni-English daily. In 1934 Inacio Caitano Carvalho
started Emigrant, a weekly which later on turned to a
daily.

In 1930, Luis de Menezes started a weekly from Goa
named Amcho Ganv. In 1932, two other Portuguese-Konknni
periodicals came into existence: Porjecho Adhar, which
was started by Jose Baptist Vaz, lasted for 30 years
and Padri Jose Vaz, which was started by Francis Xavier
D'Costa.

In 1933 Vauraddeancho Ixtt, a Konknni weekly was
started by Fr. Arsencio Fernandes and Fr.Graciano
Moraes. It is still run by the Pilar Society till date.
This writer is its present editor. In 1934 Gova Nova, a
Konknni-English-Portuguese weekly, was started by
Venktesh Alvekar.

From 1936-50 Mhojem Magazin, Catholic Indian, Amcho
Sonvsar, Novem Jivit, Goenkrancho Ixtt, Gova Kamgar,
Gomantak, Porjecho Ulas, Gova, Chabuk, Golden Goa,
Konkan Times, Sontos, Aitarachem Vachop, O Heraldo,
Konknni Journal, Tujem Raj Amkam Ieum, all from Mumbai
were in existence. Besides these, Udentechem Nekhetr,
Niz Goa, Jai Gomantak, Gomant Bharti, Voice of Goa,
Azad Goem, Sot Uloi, Porjecho Avaz, Ghe Uzvadd, all in
Mumbai, and Uzvadd from Africa were published.

After the Liberation of Goa, Felicio Cardoso started a
weekly named Goencho Sad and later changed it to Sot.
1963 saw a weekly named Uzvadd stated by Ameterio Pais.
In 1967, the two weeklies Sot and A Vida were combined
and Divtti, a daily, was brought into existence by
Felicio Cardoso. Hugo Souza was the managing director
of Divtti. Later, Felicio Cardozo turned Divtti into a
weekly called Loksad. During this period, Goa saw a
lots of other periodicals like Gomant Suria, Goencho
Fuddari, and the like. During the same period, Mumbai
witnessed the birth of Goan Express, Goan Sports
Weekly, Porjecho Ixtt, Vavraddi, and Cine Times. Today
none of these publications are in existence.

In 1970, Gomantak Private Limited Society started a
daily called Uzvadd. Evagrio George was the editor of
this paper. Later he started two of his own weeklies
and named Novo Uzvadd and Prokas.

In 1970, periodicals such as The Blade, Goencho Mog and
Goenkar were started. In 1980, Fr. Planton Faria
started Goencho Avaz which was later changed to
Goenchim Kirnnam. In the same year, Dionisio D'Souza
started a monthly and called it Goenchem Ful.

In 1982, following a people's initiative, a Konknni
daily called Novem Goem was born. Gurunath Kelekar, Dr
F M Rebello and Felicio Cardoso served as its editors.
In the same year, Prabhakar Tendulkar stated his own
publication called Goenkar. In 1983, Fr. Freddy J da Costa
 started a Konknni colour-printed magazine named Gulab,
which still continues. In 1989 Fr. Freddy Da Costa also
started a daily called Goencho Avaz which became a
fortnightly after one and a half year. However, it had
to be stopped due to financial burdens. Today he comes
out with occasional issues of Goencho Avaz.

Currently, the Goan Review is the only Konknni-English
bi-monthly magazine published from Mumbai. It is edited
by Fausto V. da Costa. In 1996 an English-Konknni
fortnightly called the Konkan Mail was started from
Panjim. Cyril D'Cunha and Jose Salvador Fernandes
edited the English and Konknni section respectively.

The past of Roman Konknni Journalism is perhaps
unprecedented in the history of vernacular languages of
India, where umpteen numbers of periodicals -- not
proportionate to size of the population of speakers and
readers of the language mushroomed to meet the needs of
the readers in Roman Konknni. At the same time, it is
equally disheartening to note the sharp decline it
underwent. Today Vauraddeancho Ixtt is the only weekly
and Gulab is the only monthly that exists as complete
periodicals in Roman Konknni journalism.

Several reasons could be pointed out for having
contributed to this downfall:

* Publishers failed to unite and join forces to meet
  the wider scope and greater market they could have realised.

* Publications failed to exploit the then existing
  journalistic demand of the people in a systematic and
  collective way.

* Publications failed to meet the demands of modern-day
  journalism.

* Many of the publications didn't work because of
  internal bickering and lack of patronage.

* Financial problems were a common factor of most of
  these publications.

* Elders failed to inculcate of love for reading
  Konknni among the younger generations.

* The western influence, along with the popularization
  of the English language in Goa, was highly
  detrimental to the growth of Konknni.

* After Devnagri script was granted official status,
  Roman script was looked down upon.

 The Why of Roman script Konknni

Goa consists of two major religious communities, the
Hindus and the Christians. Due to historical
developments, especially after the religious
persecution and the destruction of Konknni literature
by the Portuguese, the Hindu community had to depend on
the neighboring Marathi speaking areas to meet the
needs of their cultural, social and religious life.
Marathi, which is akin to the Konknni language, was
adopted by the Hindu community as a medium of their
expression or communication and fulfillment of
spiritual, cultural and educational needs.

The Catholic community, however, had to face bitter
experiences. At first the Portuguese ruler imposed
Portuguese as their medium of communication. In the
course of time, the Portuguese Bishops of Goa and the
Portuguese missionaries realized that this was not
viable. And so in order to educate the Christians and
strengthen their faith, the Church authorities had to
take recourse to Konknni, which was spoken by the people.

Due to the existing political situation, under which
the Church of Goa lived, it was unthinkable to have
religious literature in Devnagri Konknni. Already the
medium of education was the Portuguese. The Goan clergy
was being trained in the seminaries through an
extensive use of Latin, Portuguese and other Western
languages. Therefore the only solution to impart the
Christian Doctrinal teachings to the masses in Konknni
was by using the Roman script.. It was against this
background that Roman (or Romi) script made inroads in
Konknni literature.

In the course of time, the Portuguese language could
not meet the bare economic needs of the people and
gradually they had to learn English in order to get
access to jobs outside Goa. Thus the Catholic community
was completely cut off from the Devnagri roots.

With the advent of Liberation and after the official
status was granted to Konknni with Devnagri as its
official script, the younger generation is now coming
in increasing touch with the Devanagiri script. If the
trend continues successfully, we hope that after 25 to
40 years or so, we will have a new generation to whom
reading Konknni in the Devanagiri script will be easy.
Till then, the present generation will need the
services of Roman script Konknni for at least another
30 to 40 years. This is a foregone conclusion.

However this is not to water down the bright chances
Romi Konknni journalism has in the future. If, in the
course of coming 25 years it makes large strides in
terms of excellent literary, scientific and religious
publications and keeps abreast with modern journalistic
trends, then Romi Konknni will not easily die but will
survive for a long time to come.

 Present-day Romi Konknni media

The weekly Vavraddeanchi Ixtt and the monthly, Gulab
are the only complete Romi Konknni publications of Goa
today. Recently, in early October 2003, Ixtt celebrated
its 70th annual day and Gulab has completed 20 years of
existence. Today Vauraddeancho Ixtt (Worker's Friend)
is the only weekly that has survived (since 1933) and
is thriving to meet the present day challenges of the
fast moving media. Started in 1933 in the backdrop of
the spread of Communism, the weekly was to reach out
the working class and people at the grassroots to
educate, inform and educate them on Communism vis-a-vis
religion. However, over the years, and as it gained
wider popularity, the scope extended to the coverage of
social, political, cultural and religious themes. Ixtt
can boast of a glorious past as one weekly that
provided news and views that satisfied the reading
appetite of a large readership in Goa and Mumbai.
Having run by priests and the Society of Pilar, its
credibility and respect always remained consistent.

Ixtt's contribution to the freedom movement of Goa is
worth the mention. Ixtt under the aegis of the Society
of Pilar followed a line of thought closer to the
aspiration of the freedom movement of our Motherland
India and Goa. It was on the Vespers of the
independence of India that Ixtt began to publish from
the precincts of the old Monastery of Pilar, where its
editorial office and press was housed.

The weekly enjoyed quite good freedom to express itself
without rigorous Portuguese censorship upto the early
50's. However, the picture started changing after the
Liberation of Dadra and Nagar Haveli and the freedom
struggle movement to liberate Goa from the clutches of
the Portuguese. During this period, the Press buckled
under the pressures of rigorous Portuguese censorship.
Nothing could be published in Goa without getting it
censored by the Portuguese Police with the rubber-stamp
of approval that read 'Visado pela censura' (Seen by
the Censor).

Ixtt, under the editorship first of Fr. Conceicao
Rodrigues (1944-54) and later of Fr. Jeronimo Pereira
(1954-69), had to face insurmountable pressures to toe
the Portuguese line. In order to survive most of the
times, Ixtt maintained silence towards the policies of
Salazar the Portuguese dictator without however openly
criticizing the Portuguese Government, which would be
suicidal. But this silence was construed as opposition
to the Portuguese Sovereignty in Goa.

On August 12, 1961, three months before the liberation
of Goa, the Governor Vassalo da Silva, by his decree,
suspended the publication of Ixtt for 90 days as a
punishment for not being patriotic towards Portugal and
showing pro-India tendencies. Thus Ixtt was the only
paper of Goa which remained firm and suffered for its
nationalistic aspirations.

Today Ixtt still continues to be popular. Since more
than a year, Ixtt has seen lot of changes in content
and presentation. In keeping with modern trends in
journalism and the needs of readers, Ixtt is slowly but
steadily progressing. At present Ixtt has almost 7000
regular subscribers and in fact this number is
increasing at an unexpected rate. After a systematic
campaign started recently, Ixtt hopes to cross the
10,000 figure before 2004. While Ixtt was online since
1999 sharing a link on Goacom.com, today it has its own
website (http://www.v-ixtt.com).

Gulab is another magazine, which is on the lips of
every Romi Konknni reader in Goa and even abroad.
Started in 1983 by Fr. Freddy D'Costa, who continues to
be its editor, Gulab has maintained a certain standard
in its language and has strived to keep up the tempo of
advancing journalism.

This monthly is printed in a magazine format, with an
attractive glossy and coloured cover. Writings of
interests to the young, old, children and women and on
literature are included, besides covering news on
films, Konknni language and culture. Sports and tiatr
have projected this monthly as a popular family
magazine. Gulab is also online with its own website
(http://www.gulabonline.com). By running this magazine
single handedly since the last 20 years, Fr. Freddy
D'Costa will surely go down in the annals of Roman
Konknni journalism. If the Gulab (literally meaning
'rose') is still blooming it is because of the support
of its founder and his Press -- New Age Printers.

 Scope & Challenges?

A large section of the Konknni-speaking people still
reads Roman Konknni. This section reads neither English
nor the Devnagri and is totally dependent on Roman
Konani literature. Besides there are a lot of people
who read English as well as Roman Konknni, who want to
read in the vernacular and get a different slant in
coverage. Therefore, to say that the demand for Roman
Konknni will go for another 25 to 40 years will not be
inaccurate. This is strongly complimented by the Church
factor. Meaning, till the Church transliterates its
entire set of Roman-script liturgical, ritual and other
holy books to Devanagiri, the use of Roman Script will
not die.

There is also an increasingly felt demand among the
Diaspora population of Romi Konknni-speaking people who
are migrating to other countries over the globe. This
population will also take more than a generation to
assimilate the language or culture of the residing
countries. Further, if care is taken to make these
papers or periodicals at the same time competitive,
attractive, people-friendly and useful, then the scope
and longevity of Roman Konknni journalism will be ensured.

Roman Konknni journalism needs to be more aggressive in
their marketing strategies. Over the years, it has
relied more on well wishers and only subscribers. Many
times huge loses have incurred and had to be borne by
publishers. It cannot afford to rely on donors,
individual persons or trusts for its existence. Without
shedding its principles, it needs to look to adapting
to new trends, being more competitive, and delivering
the needs of the readers. These are some of the serious
challenges that needs immediate attention. At this
given period of time, there are a few Roman Konknni
writers. However that there is huge potential is a fact
that needs to be exploited and utilized.

 Conclusion

With just two periodicals around, Roman Konknni
journalism hangs on a cliff.

Even if there still continues an awareness of the
importance and love for Konknni, yet the chances of
Roman Konknni journalism gradually fading away are also
visible. The odds are in the same measure as hope.
Enthusiasm seen at the recently held 70th annual day of
Vauraddeancho Ixtt and its increasing number of
subscribers, the 20th annual day of Gulab, the
existence of 65 parish bulletins and other literature
in Roman Konknni is a proof of the huge potential and
clear hope that has to be cultivated and exploited. Can
we rise to the opportunity?


Chapter 19:
Comrades in crime: Police reporting

Mayabhushan Nagvenkar

--------------------------------------------------------------------------
This young journalist has repeatedly shown his ability to come up with that
unusual story that everybody else overlooked, only to cause ripples in Goa
and beyond.  His hard work, uncharacteristic honesty in telling the story
as-it-is, and young-man-in-a-hurry quality stand out strongly. These
approach have won him the respect of readers in as much measure as the ire
of those who would not like the media to tell the whole truth.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------

This chapter is being written much after the deadline
set. My apologies. But generally deadlines have
traditionally slipped by in the place of employment
many of us earlier used to share. At present, I am
dispensing my duties as a reporter at the Herald. So
here, I make it amply clear, that my licence for
unbridled freedom is at present indebted to the firm,
where I draw a salary from. Anyway without delving more
time and space on Utopian and impractical ideals as
freedom of the press, I shall proceed further.

My few years of covering the crime-beat in Goa, have
been marked a considerably easy tenure. And press
freedom, rather the lack of it, has been one of the
reasons for my being fairly successful at the beat.

With reporters from newspapers like The Navhind Times
(manned by any editor) and The Gomantak Times, recently
under Pramod Khandeparkar, as rivals, it has been
rather easy to come up with exclusives. Especially
because, the two competing newspapers do not seem to
carry news which scalds. And when they do manage to
rustle up some exclusives, it is more often in form of
some sort of a balm to cover the wounds of the
Establishment. Or a day or two late.

A few aspects of this deduction could be explained by
interactions I have had amongst journalists from both
the newspapers. Press freedom and ideals in most
newspaper organizations take a back-seat. In The
Navhind Times especially, that's way back.

Editors and crime -- what's the connection?

With the death of former Director General of Police
Rajinder Singh Sahaye, Goan editors (most of them,
anyway) have lost a great patron. Let me illustrate the
extent of the warm hold late Mr Sahaye had over our
enlightened mandarins.

I was in the employ of The Navhind Times some years
back. Press notes handed out to newspaper offices are
meant for lowly hacks to tackle. Lowly hacks meaning,
either sub-editors or reporters, who generally gloss
over them.

Following a press conference addressed by DGP Sahaye, I
came back to office one evening and filed the story. I
was then told that a press note, which had been issued
at the conference, had already been composed by the
editor and that I need not file the story.

Surprising? Not so.

The DGP had made a few important comments, other than
those, which had been mentioned in the press-note. So I
altered the already composed press note, to fit in
these changes. The next day, an irked Mr Sinha, who is
anyway a man of few words, did not have very pleasant
words to say about this. The press note, one should
note, had been composed to ensure the inclusion of some
adulatory phrases in the first paragraph.

Later, Sahaye was controversially transferred from Goa
and he expired after a few months. Think that was his
last press conference I had attended before he was
transferred out of Goa. His transfer was followed by
attempts made by a section of the editors to portray
that the state's top cop was transferred due to his
crusade against the 'matka' lobby. Whether he hated
matka or not I have not been able to ascertain....

(More information on this issue can be sourced from DIG
Karnal Singh or then DIG and presently Joint
Commissioner Crime Branch Delhi Qamar Ahmed, both whom
were then going hammer and tongs against DGP Sahaye.)

Then, take the case of Deputy Inspector General of
Police Karnal Singh. This man cannot be called an
enigma. That is because his his intentions are so very
articulate. For example, this man wanted the Bharatiya
Janata Party to win the last assembly elections. Forget
the leverage of the Dayanand Social Security Scheme, it
was Karnal Singh's khaki force which was largely
responsible for the BJP ride to power.

Until recently, Karnal Singh, the chief ministers
point-man in the police department, was normally the
one-stop shop for journos for daily information. In
comparison to Karnal Singh's clout in the police
department over the past few years, the last two
Directors General of Police were mere senior officers
biding their time until retirement, holding their hands
over a soft fire in their respective offices to keep warm.

Karnal Singh may be responsible for a lot of
not-so-pleasant issues. But the alleged instance of
insensitiveness, where Mr Singh categorically stated
that a recent much-publicised rape victim's hymen was
intact, but possibility of a two-finger insertion was
possible, was actually an issue that Mr Singh was
wrongly lynched for. This writer was present at the
press conference then. It was only after persistent
questioning by reporters, that Mr Singh to come out
with an in verbatim response, reading it out from the
medical report.

This was quite unlike the press conference of an
unabashedly media savvy cop Superintendent of Police
Inder Dev Shukla, involving the sexuality of star
athlete Pratima Gaonkar who had committed suicide in
mysterious circumstances.

There are other issues that come up repeatedly in the
contentious relationship between police and
journalists.

Today, a journalist inadvertently narrated to me a
story from the Jataka tales, with a moral vis a vis a
peculiar situation in his office, a local
English-language newspaper. Endless hours have been
consumed by journalists especially at Cafe Prakash as
to how an editor could allow his dupester reporter to
carry on, despite complaints of cheating filed against
the reporter at the local police station. It is another
story that the officer Police Sub Inspector Raut
Dessai, who was handling the complaint, was also duped
off a few thousand rupees by the same journo.

Sorry, I have digressed. This is how the story goes....

A she-monkey is trapped in the middle of the flooding
river. As the water level rises, she keeps pushing her
little one upwards away from the watery jaws of death.
But as soon as the water reaches her nose, and keeps
swelling further, the mother shoves her little one
below the water on the bed, and stands on it, in order
to gain additional height that could possible allow her
to survive.

The story's original moral is the survival of the
fittest. But I think one should give the listener some
liberty enough to alter it a bit. The moral which fits
the bill here, I think, is survival of the canniest.
And Goa is no more alien to such philosophies, which
generally appear to have a genetic similarity with
Bihar and the other cow-belt states, where the motto of
survival is, Jiski lathi uski bhais (He who wields the
stick, own the buffalo).

(For more information on this issue, one could contact
just about any journo from The Navhind Times)

We could shift to the equation between the Police Press
Relations Officer (PRO) and the media.

If a layman is of the opinion that this is a source
where the news from the police department actually
flows from, it is a very incorrect assumption. For, in
the Goa Police, the office of the PRO is that of a
sorting department. The juiciest morsels extracted from
the reams of wireless messages and kept under lock and
key, while the unwanted and sanitized thrash is offered
to media representatives.

No complaints there. That is the PROs brief.

But if there was one PRO a few years back who managed
this with elan, it was Deputy Superintendent of Police
Apa Teli. This man had generated such goodwill amongst
mediamen, that the police department should really
offer him a police medal, solely for ensuring that the
image of the police in the media remained somber for
half a decade or so.

Evenings at Mr Teli's office comprised of the
invariable cup of tea and on several occasions pakodas
from Cafe Real. Mr Teli's strategy was to ensure that
discussions over such sessions never focused around any
crime-related events for the day. And he ensured that
his agenda stuck. And then there was also the annual
get-together at one of the city hotels where
liquor-happy journos abounded. Almost no journo could
say no to Mr Teli. The same was the case with the liquor.

Things they say were even better during Umesh Gaonkar's
tenure as the officer in charge of the Panjim town
police station, with several weekend outings for
journalists covering crime. Umesh, who is now promoted
as a Deputy Superintendent of Police, has kept up his
press management tactics in Margao. Correspondents
often walk up to him and complain that they had lost
their purse and Umesh readily obliges, not with the
purse, but at least with some money. (For more
information please contact the late 'eighties and early
'nineties language-loving journo clique and primitive
Margao based correspondents-cum-teachers)

This uneasy equation also has its own kind of 'freak
shows'.

A journo attached to a Marathi newspaper, who belongs
to the Somnath Zuwarkar school of thought -- one of
those few loyal sycophants who refused to turn sides in
favour of Babush Monserrate -- was involved in an
embarrassing incident a couple of years ago. Shopping
in the departmental store in the capital run by the Goa
Marketing Federation, he tried flicking a tooth-paste
and slipped it inside his pocket. His sleight of the
hand was noticed by an employee, and was promptly
reported to the manager, who hauled him up and informed
the Panjim police about the incident.

When the reporter revealed his professional identity
and explained that he too owed obeisance to Somnath
Zuwarkar, the complaint was duly withdrawn. Another of
Mr Zuwarkar's cronies was in charge of running the
marketing federation then. The journo is now dubbed as
"Colgate" and he really does not bristle with joy when
he is called by the name. (For more information on this
please contact Police Inspector Mahesh Gaonkar)

But that's not all. Journalists pimping for the police
is also not very uncommon. Pardon the word pimping, but
there are times when the lines between both the
professions blur.

Only recently, a South Goa correspondent for an
English-language local newspaper, who also manages a
newspaper agency in the region, was the force who
thwarted Police Sub Inspector Jivba Dalvi's likely
suspension after the latter had played 'funny' while
investigating a theft case. Incidentally, the
complainant in this case was Vithaldas Hegde, a popular
persona amongst journalists and policemen alike.

The Baina police outpost is one of the more lucrative
postings for police officers and a few select
journalists. Lucrative in terms of the hafta streaming
in from the bars and brothels in the area. A journalist
attached to Goa's largest-selling Marathi daily, did a
one-up on the police sub inspector in-charge posted
there. The journo 'enforced' a system where he would
collect a regular hafta from the Baina police outpost,
in return for blanking out any damaging news emanating
from Baina.

One more nugget about Baina: a few hard-core journos
based there have some commercial sex workers on call,
just the way some cops do. The second most assured
source of income for cops is the hafta from matka
agents. Here too a few journos have not lagged too far
behind. A long-standing correspondent for an
English-language newspaper, who has been mentioned
earlier in this chapter, runs two such gaddas located
opposite the Margao police station, where matka bets
are accepted, even amidst the worst of police
crack-downs on gambling outlets.

While writing this, I may appear to be very partial to
the Margao journos and cops. But reality is that the
place is just so colourful. Here's another one. A
journalist's spouse posted as a head constable at the
Margao police station is audacious enough to accepts
matka bets in the police station building.

QUOTE UNCOUTH: One of SP Shukla's latest pursuits is
philosophy. Once upon a time, it was English. A Deputy
Superintendent of Police never tires of this tale. Mr
Shukla, who loves positive interactions with the media
and issuing press notes, had just typed out one such
press note and called the DySP in. "Maine press note
draft kiya hai. Aap jara isme grammer bhar do" (I have
drafted a press note. Could you please fit the grammer in?)


chapter 20:
Of sports... and sports journalism

Cyril D'CunhaCyril D'Cunha is a figure hardly anybody in post-1961
Goa journalism would not know. While editors came and
went, he stayed on at the desk, at the Navhind Times --
and contributing to many outstation journals, as
outlined towards the end of this essay. Earlier, he
began his journalistic career in Bombay. He is highly
rated for his knowledge on Goan sports, as also
acknowledged by a recent book on Goan football.

It has been such a long while and so much that has
happened since, that it has become difficult to
recollect everything in the sports that one has been
connected with in Goa chronologically. In fact, in what
follows, I have mentioned a few dates, which I can
connect as correctly as per my records and memory. But
in many cases, I've avoided being date-specific, only
because I'm not sure of them.

The events were of different hues; but they all stamped
their mark on the Goa scene in many ways and only the
mean-spirited will fail to appreciate this
cross-section of happenings. Agreed, we are not living
in a state of hedonists, strictly speaking; yet
criticisms, in any form, generally do hurt. It's an
universal phenomena and Goa is no exception to that.
But then, that's no reason to cringe, as after all,
nobody is picture perfect.

Mind you, I'm tracing a period when TV in Goa was an
unknown quotient, in the early 1960s. When the cliched
few Goan icons were confined only to football players
and its organisers. Athlete mates did an occasional
whizz in mention, mainly those of past glory. Hockey,
cricket and such other sports, as we see today, were
yet to establish their mark in the state, though hockey
on roller skates was played before Goa's liberation in
1961. The court at Circuit House in Panaji is still
there, even if fallen into disuse.

My account is more personal and allied to sports
activities I associated with, though I've touched on a
few others with less authenticity.

Hockey: If there is a definite whiff of the yesteryear,
particularly to my initial attention to field hockey, I
have to be excused. More memorable for me, as I
captained the first Goa hockey team at the Nationals at
Madurai and I'm proud of it.

In 1964-65, a suitable surface to play hockey was at a
premium, especially in Panaji. But there were a
dedicated lot of persons, who were not deterred by this
fact. I recollect carrying goal-posts and nets to the
mini football stadium at Caranzalem, which
unfortunately today is non-existent. This was carried
on a hand-cart, with me walking alongside, all the way
from the city to the ground there, a distance of almost
eight kilometres.

There was a lot of enthusiasm among those wanting to
play the game, with a few teams showing interest too,
especially the Navy. The late Aniceto Fernandes, one of
the foremost organisers of Goan hockey and football in
Bombay, was mainly instrumental in giving shape to
tournaments in Goa, with the help of the then Chief
Minister, Dayanand Bandodkar. He also got the Goa
Hockey Association affiliated to the All India Hockey
Federation and even succeeded in getting a
representation for Goa on the apex body.

The Dempo-Souza group in the 'sixties, decided to have
a team of their own, and we all joined in. During this
time, I also coached a number of women hockey players.
Many of my colleagues on the Dempo-Souza team are no
longer alive, but for me, they have left behind some
pleasant memories. In February 1967, Aniceto conducted
the Bandodkar Hockey Tournament and I was put in charge
of running it on behalf of the Goa Hockey Association.
Then two months later, from April 15 to 23, came the
big hockey tournament for women for the Shantilal Cup,
with me in charge of the north zone as the
selector-cum-manager. Several players who had
represented India, especially from Mysore and Bombay,
were seen in action. Bandodkar must also be credited
with creating a separate Directorate of Sports and
Youth Affairs, in 1973.

The Sports Journalists Association of Goa, founded in
1982, of which I was the founder president, did
organise a road roller-skating competition on May 8,
1983, which was a great success, as was the bullock
cart race organised at Peddem grounds in Mapusa.

Presently, hockey is in a lamentable state, with little
or no activity being held and it is more tragic because
in the past, Goans elsewhere have represented India.
Players like Leo Pinto, Walter D'Souza, Maxie Vaz,
Lawrie Fernandes, Reggie Rodrigues, John Mascarenhas
and many women internationals.

Football: Thanks to the centuries-old legacy, starting
with the presence of the British troops in Goa and the
Portuguese, both of whom had a passion for the game,
football still remained the craze in the state and it
prospered with players using the paddy fields to hone
their skills. These details I have mentioned in the
book I later published titled Soccer and Goa, on behalf
of the Government of Goa.

This enthusiasm was carried forward by leaps and
bounds, making Goa one of the most feared of states in
the country, throwing up players of repute. Both the
clubs and the Goa teams, won tournaments all over the
country, with professionalism coming in. No less credit
to the founder members of the newly constituted Goa
Football Association, which was created after
disbanding the erstwhile Association that existed
before Liberation and 1961.

Of particular note was the staging of a football match,
featuring a team of women, during the Carnival season,
on March 4, 1973, at the Police ground in Panaji,
between Eves and Adams. This was organised by us
members of the Clube Vasco da Gama, and I will stick
out my neck to say that it was the first time a match
was played with a women's team. Unless, somebody can
prove to the contrary.

Athletics: This universally acclaimed discipline as the
'mother of all games and sports', did not progress as
desired. On August 1, 1969, Prabhakar Sinari, Francisco
Braganza, Rui Carvalho, Domnic Fernandes and myself,
got together and formed the Goa Amateur Athletic
Association, which functions till today, though with
mixed results.

We did win plenty of medals at the National level, but
nothing at the international level. Among the main
drawbacks were, and still are, finance, lack of
infrastructural facilities, including grounds and a
suitable running track and of course trained officials.
The situation today is much improved, with the
government providing coaching facilities and other
incentives, especially at the school and college level.

Yet, apart from football, athletics, swimming and
taekwondo, which have brought a lot of honours to the
state in the past few years, there is little to shout
about in the other disciplines. There are a lot of
pontification made by the governments, often with
political considerations, and these have not been good
for the progress of sporting activity in Goa.

As for me, my stint in Goa has been rewarding. Being
bestowed with the prestigious and highest state award,
the Jivbadada Kerkar Award for Best Organiser for the
year 1984-85. Reporting two Olympic Games, at Montreal
and Los Angeles, the World Cup hockey at Sydney, the
World Amateur Boxing Championships in Bombay, where I
also shared the mike for the English commentary, the
Asian Games, Permit meets and Nationals in the country,
in the capacity of an official, have all been a great
experience, besides allowing me the opportunity to
globe trot.

One also produced and edited Goa's first sports weekly
titled Goal, in 1976-77, and later in 1996, I edited
the bilingual fortnightly Konkan Mail, both having to
be discontinued due to lack of support.

There were different reasons and circumstances for the
starting of these two publications. I had been working
as a correspondent for Sportsweek of Bombay, and the
idea of starting the Goal came from there.

With sports picking up, one felt there was scope for a
weekly focussing mainly on local sports affairs. I was
aware that in a venture of this type, I would be
requiring a lot of money, which I did not have. But
what weighed in my favour was the fact that in
partnership with a friend of mine, we had taken the
Diario da Noite press, owned by Luis de Menezes, on a
contract basis, to print a full-fledged paper the Goa Monitor,
owned by Erasmo Sequeira in 1977, under the name of
Polygot Publication, Campal.

The Goal, therefore, could be a by-product, as the
infrastructure for producing it, including the printing
staff, was in place. The only cost involved would be
the news-print for the tabloid. As for the writing
part, I was going to do most of it, while a few friends
of mine promised to write gratis. Unfortunately for us,
the Goa Monitor was forced to fold up, as Sequeira's
press staff went on strike. It also meant the premature
death of "Goal", on which one had pinned high hopes, as
it was steadily picking up in sales and, surprisingly,
even getting a few advertisements from big industrial houses.

In the case of Konkan Mail, the whole concept was born
out of a missionary zeal.

When I approached Mathias Vaz, owner of the Maureen
Printing Press, and P.M. Vaz, proprietor of Manvins
Courier Service and Manvins Hotel, with the idea of
bringing out a bilingual paper, which would contain
news catering to both English-language and Roman
Konkani readers, they immediately agreed.

Papers which published general news in Konkani, were in
Devnagri script, which many of the Catholics, specially
those in the 30+ age group, could simply not read. It
was for this section that the Konkan Mail would cater
to. While Mathias handled the entire printing, P.M.Vaz
would take care of the distribution and couriering
part, besides providing office space and the use of his
computers in his hotel, while I would handle the
editing.

The soft launch of the first copy of 18 pages, costing
Rs. 2, was done by the Member of Parliament Eduardo Faleiro,
in the city, where a few prominent citizens were the
invitees.

For the nearly four years the paper was regularly
published, there was great enthusiasm shown by the
readers. But this in itself is not enough for the
success of a paper, as any publisher will vouch,
without advertisements, which is the main revenue
provider. And that is exactly what we lacked. This
could be because of a variety of factors, including
perhaps, bad management. After several appeals to the
readers via the editorials for such revenue support
bore no results, we decided to suspend publication, as
we could no longer continue suffering losses. We still
hope to restart, provided the finance is available; but
for the moment we haven't a clue of where this money is
going to come from.

Though sports has been my first love, reporting on
sports has been an add on. Except for a brief stint on
the sports desk of the Free Press Journal, my main
grounding on the news and reporting desk was with the
Times of India, Bombay, and then on The Navhind Times
and back to the Goa page of the Times of India,
Bangalore edition, as a stringer, where I also did a
lot of sports reporting. I believe that sports
journalism helps a lot in the shaping of a good
all-round writer, simply because it gives one a free
reign to use descriptive language and a variety of
verbiage, ordinarily not suited for general reporting.

Be that as it may, I was fortunate enough to work as a
correspondent for many publications. Of particular
mention was the Indian Post, run by the Singhanias in
Bombay and edited by that time by S. Nihal Singh. The
paper was to run into trouble later on and later had to
close down. By this time, Vinod Mehta had taken charge
as the Editor, and subsequently quit, to start The Independent,
belonging to the Times of India group. Many of us
with the Indian Post joined the editorial team under
his leadership in 1989. Incidentally, the Executive
Editor, Dina Vakil, who left The Independent to join
the Times of India, thanked me in a letter dated May 4,
1990 for my support to the newspaper. I have my utmost
regard for all these three, Nihal Singh, Vinod Mehta
and Dina Vakil, for their personal gestures.

Among the other major papers where I served as
correspondent, were the Financial Express for nine
years, the Afternoon, the Tribuna of then Portuguese
Macau, a news agency from Lisbon Noticias de Portugal
and the NCWC News Service, Massachusetts, USA. It was
hard work, and when I look back at those times, I am
amazed how I was able to keep to my schedules and enjoy
doing it.

Such challenges apart, it has been a great party always
and I had a wow of a time.


Chapter 21:
From journalist... to publisher

Niraj NaikNiraj Naik, known for his coverage of rural and remote
Goa in the 'nineties, is today publisher and editor of
the Digital Goa. This fortnightly, the only specialist
publication of its kind in Goa -- covers the IT
industry in the state. He has worked in the Delhi
media, and was located for some time in Malaysia.

Without doubt, one owes one's career in journalism to
the emergence of Konknni (Devnagari) journalism with
the launch of Sunaparant. One was then still a
college-going lad, having very strong views on the
number of issues. The Konknni agitation was at its peak
and I was a staunch Konknni supporter. On a parallel
track, one had also started questioning not only the
obvious excesses flowing from religious fundamentalism
but also ritualism and, subsequently, the very concept
of God.

It was a time when I was also leaning towards
socialism. Contrary to the projected image, life around
you in Goa can tend to get suffocating. Given my rural
background, I wouldn't have had confidence to write in
the English-language newspapers, and the bitterness
generated in those days over the language issue
prevented me to opt for Marathi.

So, the launch of first Devnagari-Konknni daily Sunaparant
 gave me the much needed platform to express myself.
There was no looking back after that, and I wrote
hundreds of articles in Sunaparant to make a vent to my
inner feelings. Gradually, I switched my interest
towards current affairs and hard news. In the meantime,
one had a short stint as an activist, working on the
number of socio-economic and environmental issues
confronting Goa. But, my temperament did not allow me
to stay there for long and I decided to come back to
active journalism.

Herald was my obvious choice, given its image as the
'activist' newspaper and, at that time, being the only
paper which had escaped from the clutches of
all-pervading mining lobby, which till recently
controlled most of the Goa press. My first pieces were
a series on the socio-environmental impact of iron ore
transportation in the village of remote Sanvordem, a
problem that is otherwise very seldom noticed in
distant Panaji, more so in the world of the
English-language press.

It was one of the first comprehensive documentation of
the explosive situation prevailing in this part of
Sanguem Taluka, due to the unbridled ore transportation
by over 500 trucks on a small stretch cutting across
barely 17 kilometres, and passing through the densely
populated village of Sanvordem.

Derek Almeida was the News Editor of Herald then. He
was the one who encouraged me to do another series on
the also-distant Canacona taluka, which was in the news
in those days for opposing number of larger tourism
projects. I actually spent a week in the different
localities of Canacona, including a over-night stay at
Cotigao wildlife sanctuary. This was followed by number
of stories on the developmental and environmental
issues in Goa.

Herald was going through a transition when I joined the
paper. Diedre Sampayo-Fernandes had just taken over as
the publisher of the Herald and was taking keen
interest in the affairs of the paper. She made an
unsuccessful attempt to streamline the functioning of
organization. On the editorial front, Rajan Narayan had
become almost defunct due to his deteriorating health.
Devika Sequeira and Pamela D'Mello had just quit and
Julio D'Silva (who, in the ever-so-political world of
newspaper politics, was perceived as being close to
Rajan Narayan) was brought into Panaji as the Chief
Reporter, on shifting Alaric Gomes to Margao. Franky Fernandes
 of Vasco joined, shortly followed by Rupesh Samant. It
was an entirely a fresh team.

For some reason, the reporting desk was given the
lowest priority. I had to handle the reporting-desk
single handedly for months together. Besides, also
perceptible was the same instability at the top during
those couple of years, around the mid-nineties. We saw
as many as four to five mainly outstation deputy
editors come and go. Hardly anybody could withstand the
internal politics and rivalry. We were grappling in
darkness in the absence of the required guidance. There
wasn't any motivating force. Meanwhile, Julian also
made her foray into reporting after working in the
magazine section for couple of years.

The post of Chief Reporter was vacant for quite
sometime following the resignation of Julio Da Silva.
His perceived closeness with BJP had probably started
long before he joined BJP, to contest Cuncolim
constituency on that party's ticket in the 1998 Goa
assembly elections. But ambition cost him both a career
and a (political) seat. Meanwhile, Ashley do Rosario
rejoined the Herald after a stint with The Navhind Times
 ended. After keeping him without designation for
awhile, Ashley was finally given the post of Deputy
Chief Reporter. To some of us, this trend -- of using
designations as carrots or baits, and apparently handed
out in a manner far from fair -- was demoralising,
specially since we had run the show when nobody was
around. Personally, one was never comfortable with
mainstream reporting. My biggest 'weakness' was
politics, or rather, a healthy skepticism about it. I
always hated politics, more so the superficial level at
which it gets reported in newspapers. Unfortunately,
politics has long been the mainstay for our newspapers.
This lopsided stress on politics in the media,
especially in the Goan media, has not only undermined
other genuine and more critical issues, but also given
undue encouragement to petty politics and crooks.

One always wanted to focus on the more real issues of
the people. But routine stories prevented devoting time
to such a venture. Special stories of such a nature
would usually imply going out of Panaji to the
villages. Pressure of covering routine events prevented
me to leave Panaji to chase these stories. Instead we
had to cover some insignificant press conference of
politician X or Y, or somebody else.

There were other beats like the police and courts,
which had to be covered on daily basis. There was no
appreciation for special or exclusive stories done, but
missing of a routine story was taken note of,
how-so-ever insignificant it may be. Leave aside
incentives on exclusive stories but working in the Goa
press can also mean that even travel bill were not
reimbursed. This was a general trend in most of the
newspapers. All this resulted into many a Panaji-based
reporter turning into mere stenographers, ready for the
next round of dictation. There seems to be unanimity
amongst the desk staff and reporters that whatever
words are uttered by a minister constitute the gospel
truth, and that is the hot news worthy of wide
coverage. This has resulted in ministers getting
unwarranted prominent displays on front pages for the
various announcements they make, but which more often
than not never see the light of the day. I recollect a
practice one reporter was engaged in. He would arrive
at the Secretariat late afternoon, and would visit
ministerial cabins to hunt for stories. There would be
literally a begging for stories. Some ministers used to
oblige, and needless to say, the story would get a
prominent position in the next day's edition. The
entire spectrum of Goa-based newspapers could be
categorized on the basis of their political
affiliations, stand on the language issue and the lobby
they belong to. Though most of the papers shift their
policies in favour of the ruling party of the day, the
papers were strongly divided on the lines of language.
All the Marathi newspapers, with the exception of the Rashtramat,
supported Marathi. On the other hand, Sunaparant, Rashtramat
 and Herald supported Konknni, and some papers remained
neutral or avoided a clear stand on this issue.

However, the major difference was the lobby they belong
to. At that time, all the significant Goa-based papers,
with the exception of Herald and Tarun Bharat, were
owned by mining corporations. Needless to say, that
there was a total blackout of all mining-related
stories which showed the industry in poor light. This
embargo exists till now. Only one difference has crept
in; the Gomantak group, which publishes Gomantak
(Marathi) and Gomantak Times, has been taken over by
the Sakal group of Maharashtra. It is the worst kind of
self censorship by a section of Goan press which
deprives a voice to the thousands of people living in
the mining belt in miserable conditions due to
pollution of air, water and land. My discontent was
growing as a journalist in a Goan newspaper. I was
looking out for an opportunity to move out from here.
And at the first opportunity, we -- meaning, my wife
and myself -- descended in Delhi for the more enriching
experience which completely changed my outlook towards
life and helped to change the course of my career.

 Taking on new roles...

I was back to Goa after a gap of two years. My stay in
Delhi and a short stint in Malaysia was an enriching
experience. It was a new life altogether. There was no
question of joining any local paper for the very reason
I had decided to quit it. The dream was to start
something of my own; something different. The meteoric
rise of IT had thrown up lots of opportunities. Goa too
had made foray in the area of IT, and it had big plans.
Goa had an edge over its counterparts due to her
peculiar socio-economic conditions.

IT was nothing new for someone in the area of
journalism, since we had been dealing with information
all along. Having realized the power of information, it
was my endeavour to harness the technology to make it
an instrument of change.

With this objective in mind, I decided to set up a
small company and named it Aparant Infomedia, (after
the historical name for Goa). The basic objective of
this venture was to bring the fruits of IT to the
masses and use it to bring about a positive change
amongst the lives of thousands of people, especially
for the underprivileged.

An IT newspaper or magazine for Goa was just one idea
amongst the many which the company aimed at. There were
some innovative ideas to capitalize on the potential
thrown up by the Internet, and particularly by e-mail,
for the benefit of the common men. The paper got
priority over other things simply because there was a
need to create awareness amongst the masses.

There were a number of efforts underway in Goa in the
area of IT by the government, industry, NGOs and the
like . But there was a lack of co-ordination and hardly
anybody knew what was going on in the other camp.
Opportunity came calling, indicating that there was an
urgent need to create a common forum for the discussion
of IT-related issues and cost effective solutions.

This was priority Number One. Thus Goa's first IT
fortnightly was born in the beginning of the year 2002.
It was appropriately named Digital Goa, to encompass
not only computer specific issues but the whole gamut
of information technology even beyond computers.

Initially, this idea evoked a cautious response from
both media stalwarts and IT professionals, some of whom
even outright dismissed the idea as non-workable. Two
individuals were exceptions to this rule, and they
jumped onto the idea and have been a constant
motivating factor all throughout i.e. GCCI President
and D-Link General Manager Nitin Kunkolienkar and our
own colleague Frederick Noronha.

One was aware of the average Goan's apathy towards
reading, leaving aside few daily newspapers. This
explains the fact that no periodical worth its name,
and with a widespread readership, could be established
in Goa, despite factors like Goa's high literacy, and
relatively higher affluence levels. In the past one
decade, a number of family-oriented and political
magazines have hit the stands, only to disappear
without making their mark. Those existing are
struggling for their survival or are backed by big
corporate houses. Then there was a new trend of
free-sheeters that gripped Goa for a while. That too is
seems to be slowly fading away.

On this backdrop, it was really a risky attempt to
start a specialized magazine, leave alone the general
magazine. Number one, there was no corporate house
backing this effort nor did one have any savings to run
it without any expected returns for the initial period.
Most importantly, I did not have any other source of
income since this was my full time activity.

One had to run the show all alone, which meant which
meant facing demands of 12 hours or so of time each
day. One must put it on record here that without the
financial and moral support of my wife, Sangeeta, it
would not have been possible for me to take this major
risk.

It could be argued that most of the magazines which
were closed down did not have a professional approach,
consistency and utility value. These are critical
factors for any publication's success. More so in a
place like Goa. You need to study the mind of the
reader, and his or her likes and dislikes. How a story
is displayed is as important as the choice of the story
itself. Readers should get something refreshing to
read, and not just a rehash of stories already appeared
in the daily newspapers.

For a product to succeed, it should also have some
utility value to the readers. People are bombarded from
all sides with knowledge and information in this
information era. The job of the media is to screen and
customize this information for the benefit of their
readers. This is the role especially of the niche
magazines, and it is the secret behind Digital Goa. The
first issue of Digital Goa rolled out in the first week
of April after a three months of running around. But
very soon the initial enthusiasm was over and I had to
face the stalk reality. Publication is the
capital-intensive business. You have to go on pumping
money for years before the product starts yielding
fruits. So you need tremendous sustaining power.

Many times, one was confronted with existentialist
dilemmas -- whether or not to continue to invest money
without any signs of returns. The returns were almost
commensurate to the investments, and one point of time
my investing power was almost exhausted. But I did not
give up and the result is before the reader to judge.

It was only after a year that things started changing.
The IT businesses who had earlier adopted a cautious
wait-and-watch policy, realized that this was not a
fly-by-night kind of venture, but a serious
publication. Though one had some kind of a hi-and-bye
relationship with a few players in the IT circuit, most
of the people were unknown to me.

Secondly, this was my maiden experience of conducting
business deals with the business class, being a
journalist for all of my earlier years. It was a
different experience altogether dealing with all types
of people, including some who could be safely
classified as crooks of the first degree.. But one
passed this agni-pariksha (test by fire).

Being behind a small time publication, one had to be an
all-rounder -- looking after all areas of publication
-- editorial, circulation, advertising, printing,
accounts, and whatever work was left to be done. One
could obviously not appoint professionals and
sufficient staff to look after all these departments,
simply because overheads had to remain in check.

To prevent this venture going into the red, I managed
the show mostly with one staff-member, and by deploying
my Merces flat as the office. The first one year was
really tough, as one could hardly recover the printing
charges leave alone my salary.

It was a great eye opener; before starting, I had set a
target of some 1000 subscribers within a couple of
months at a subscription-fee of a fairly reasonable Rs
120 per year. But it did not take me long to come in
terms with the harsh reality. Even my close friends did
not bother to pay subscription as a support to my
efforts. Those in the thick of IT sector of Goa also
did not care to subscribe it too. One got the feeling
that people were scared that with their single
subscription I may get rich or Digital Goa could
overnight grow into a big publication.

I experienced the much spoken-of Goan crab mentality
very closely during this time. One thing that can be
said with certainty is that Goans are very hostile
towards those who make a new beginning. They would
waste lots of their energies to discourage you from
aiming higher, or pull you down, instead of supporting
enterprising people. It is only when they feel that one
has survived their onslaught and have made a mark, that
they would be sympathetic to you.

This is precisely the reason why the average Goan youth
doesn't take a risk and avoids aiming higher. To
succeed in Goa, one should either have money-power or a
godfather or extraordinary perseverance. Most of my
energies still goes into Digital Goa, though today it
has grown into a professional, self-sustaining
magazine. It has not only gained acceptance but even
attained popularity within industry, IT businesses,
students and general IT users alike.

There is no dearth of advertisement and, most
importantly, our advertisers do not part with their ads
as a measure of their generosity, but rather on account
of the mileage they get in advertising in Digital Goa.
This, for us, is the biggest recognition that Digital Goa
 is treated as a professional periodical. In fact, one
could argue that it is the fastest growing publication
and one could venture a bold forecast here that, touch
wood, it could have a bright future.

But, there is much to be done to make it really a good
quality magazine, both in terms of content and layout
and printing. We need to dream of publications on par
with any national-level magazine. My preoccupation with
the Digital Goa magazine has made me neglect the other
projects of Aparant Infomedia. However, we could still
complete a comprehensive directory of IT related
businesses, including a database of around a thousand
firms, with the help of Goa Chamber of Commerce and Industry
. Also, we are in the final stages of completing a
Website and e-mail directory for Goa, one of the first
of kinds in the country. Hopefully other interesting
projects on the lists will get to see the light of the
day, so that it can be proudly said that journalists
can themselves re-invent themselves into good
publishers too!





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