Things people keep
Name: S. B. Raja Seetharaman
Collection: 83 Chennai-based neighbourhood and community newspapers
Anyone not residing in an area where a neighbourhood newspaper is circulated is unlikely to be aware of it. There are, however, exceptions. S. B. Raja Seetharamam can reel off the names of papers specific to every locality in Chennai. No, it is not their reports that draw him to them. He simply fancies collecting these newspapers. Smart Chennai, Maanagara Express, The Spark, Future Line… Seetharaman has them all.
Consisting of less-known newspapers, his collection is a reminder of the late 1990s when there was a neighbourhood newspaper in every street. Some of these papers have folded up. In production still, a few are studies in resilience. It is amazing how they have survived competition with limited resources. Started four years ago, P3 Mail at first focussed on just three areas — Pallavaram, Pammal and Pozhichalur. Its service now extends to Chromepet and Anakaputur, but the size of its team remains the same. As before, its editor Anbarasan handles everything, from editorial to advertorial work!
Nine years since its launch, Suburban Voice is still ‘heard’ in Keezhkattalai, Madipakkam, Nanganallur, Pammal and areas in and around Tambaram.
Other small newspapers reinvented themselves as they went on.
Tamil Times (in and around Porur) was Swathy when it was launched. Its editor K.A. Paulraj changed its name when he realised that potential advertisers were shying away from his newspaper because they found it hard to associate a name like Swathy with a neighbourhood newspaper. With the new name, it began to get more advertisements and the tabloid became a broadsheet.
Most of these newspapers rely on ‘citizen journalists’, professionals in the area and books packed with interesting information.
City Rumour did not live up to its unflattering name. Instead, it offered offbeat articles and interesting ‘did-you-knows’ (example: 111,111,111 multiplied by itself gives 12,345,678,987,654,321). Circulated in and around Anna Nagar, it had a column, ‘Doctor’s Voice’, by Dr. C. Bhaskar, who is consultant for Banyan. In the issue dated December 16-31, 2005, the doctor looked at medicine through Thiruvalluvar’s eyes. Quoting a few couplets from the Thirukkural, he explained the sage-poet’s views on health and treatment of diseases.
Seetharaman’s collection has a fair sprinkling of community-based newspapers.
A newspaper for the Saurashtrian community, Juttysuns As Page (JAP,) gives prominence to events organised by members of the community. The daily carries articles written in Tamil because the local Saurashtra community is extremely comfortable with the language.
Jai Guru Jajmal Times, edited by J. Dharamchand Lunkar, is for one group in the Jain community. With the main focus on the work of the Acharya Subh Chandraji, this Chennai-based Hindi newspaper is circulated around the country.
Seetharaman’s collection includes an issue of Doctor Times, which has the city’s best doctors discussing various conditions.
(A fortnightly column on people who collect unusual objects)
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