Can we save The Hindu?

The Hindu’s financial woes, brought out by ‘’, makes a sad reading. Not only has the paper become editorially stupid and hence blatantly anti-national, but also fiscally imprudent and hence financially unviable. While I would rejoice at the death of its current editorial policy, I wouldn’t be happy at the demise of the paper, for the 130 year old paper has a hoary history that dates back to pre-independence times that many others in India don’t.

It is a given that its owners and editors are virulent CPI(M) card holders by virtue of which they can’t read the market and understand its economics. The more they are blinded by ideology and hatred, the more impossible it becomes for them to understand the mood and the market. Hence the paper is more likely to die a slow death like that of the erstwhile Soviet Union.

But that needs a Ronald Reagan. Who, in the current situation, could be a Reagan? I don’t see anybody in the current Indian media situation. The Indian Express has its own woes to confront and hence does not have the financial wherewithal. The Times of India could be a contender, for it could muster some strength and initiate a take-over. But the TOI is happy to be a Tabloid than a newspaper and it would bring about the decline in standards of The Hindu that has been left un-touched by the CPI-M card holders.

Could the Hindustan Times group vie for it? That looks like a possibility, for HT does not have a base in Tamil Nadu. If another news paper does not take over The Hindu, then it would, sooner or later, pass into the hands of some non-media corporate or a foreign media group. That would, without doubt, bring the paper’s contribution to arts and culture to a quick end.

Could The Hindu not go public and raise funds? That would be a rational course of action. It could do so but its owners would not be willing to part with the legacy of the paper. They would want to kill the paper but not hand it over to the public. All tall talk on communism, joint-ownership et al are for public consumption and does not apply to private profits.

So what could the long time and erstwhile readers ( myself included ) do? Wait and watch? I don’t think so.

However far fetched it might look, I am for creating a crowd-funded private entity to initiate a takeover of the paper. But before that let the financials worsen a bit more, advertisements dry out and government ads stop. That will bring the current owners to their knees and start searching for suitors.

I am not an expert on Mergers and Acquisitions. My views could have stemmed from my long association with the paper as its reader. But doesn’t the crowd-fund approach look promising?

Are there any other options? Experts please advise.

The Hoot news item on The Hindu’s financials.

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