265 dailies and counting! Will Kashmir’s ‘media malaria’ end soon?

By Sheikh Qayoom 

Srinagar, April 28: At 265 and counting – both in English and vernacular – Jammu and Kashmir’ summer capital could well have the largest of such ‘daily newspapers’ in the country given its population of 1.4 million.

What is intriguing about these ‘daily newspapers’ is the fact that most of them are not available at news stands in Srinagar and other places in the Valley.

Why are so many daily newspapers published in a city that does not have a readership for more than two dozen vernacular and English language dailies?

“These newspapers, which do not have sustainable readership, are published only to get government advertisements,” a top official of the state information department told media persons on condition of anonymity, given the sensitiveness of the issue.

“That finally becomes the source of sustenance for the publishers of such newspapers,” the official added.

Asked what use is an advertisement for a government department or a business establishment in a newspaper that does not have any appreciable readership, the official threw up his hands.

“You should ask that question from the publishers of such newspapers,” he finally offered.

For obvious reasons, the operator did not wish to be named.

Some of the funniest names and some of the most intriguing publishing practices have helped sustain many newspapers in Kashmir, irrespective of whether they have a readership or not.

Given the revised norms for carrying official advertisements, would the ‘media malaria’ finally meet its antidote in the troubled Valley? Watch this space!

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