More feedback on 'Wet prospects for print in Kerala -- literally'

Interesting to read your encounter with a newspaper 'boy' wetting through his job. They are not really unsung in Kerala. After all, the first new-wave movie in Malayalam was 'Newspaper Boy', made some 50 years ago.
N Muraleedharan
Your moving observation of 'wet newspaper boys' with an unintended yet obvious hint of wet days for news business in Kerala, touched a chord. It raises questions other than that pertaining to journalism too, including corporate social responsibility. Remember MG Ramachandran's gradual ascent to the throne of CM started with his distribution of raincoats to rickshaw pullers, an act of charity to highlight his concern for the man on the street? Our media managers who pride on their professionalism and management acumen should know better as they used to gift umbrellas and such other stuff to impress the newspaper agents long before the skills of  managers came into play with their cost cutting and profit maximising techniques.
Neglect of the welfare of the persons in distribution chain has another serious repercussion. My newspaper agent (a young man who runs a medical store, and this is his secondary source of income) tells me that getting someone for distribution has become so difficult as part-time work opportunities are plenty now. In a few years' time subscribers will have to go to outlets to collect their papers. Media houses are certainly on the know of the situation but they don't want to wet their fingers as distribution technically
is a headache of the agent. Who doesn't know that the agent won't part a paisa from his commission even if the sky falls.
Newspaper managements who think themselves too smart not to spend a paisa more on assuring efficient distribution, but mint new products proudly every other month on every conceivable subject, are going to get the shock of their life as the goose that has been laying golden eggs has shown signs of acute ill health.We only have to wait for the proverbial straw that brakes the camel's back. It's a pity watching these poor guys laboriously cycling through slushy pot-holed roads through rain and scorching sun. Even our fish vendors use motorised vehicles. Have you noticed the load on the cycle on most days has become mountainous, thanks to the clever
'product diversification'? The newspaper boy has the fate of the drum, which gets all the beating, but the drummers take it all!
It is not difficult to recruit young people if some prestige is given to this activity. After all Abdul Kalam was a distributor of Dinamani,wasn't he? The Malayali's appetitie for printed matter doesn't seem to diminish for the time being. It is the newspaper managements that are killing this 'illogical exuberance' - to use one of Allen Greenspan's expressions -- to read, read and read some more. Even if all these steps are taken, technology will make the process of news business we follow today obsolete. No one asks our news managers who think themselves smart Alecs to stop the tide of time. Can't they at least keep  their eyes wide open?
K Balachandran
Always thought their job was the most difficult. 365 days of the year, very early in the morn he has to be at it, relentlessly. If he is late even on one day, none of us, readers, would forgive him. Real unsung hero.
Mathew Joshua
Very touching.
S Srinivasan
Original mail below:
From an industry viewpoint, I witnessed two poignant scenes this Monday morning in Thiruvananthapuram. Driving near Kesavadasapuram in pouring rain and darkness at around 5.30 am, I saw this newspaper `boy', aged around 50, doing his rounds on a bicycle with an umbrella in one hand and balancing the cycle with the other. To let my vehicle overtake, he courteously moved to the left and I could see that he had gone right into a gutter, owing to poor visibility. 
A few minutes later, near Pattom, I saw another newspaper boy, aged about 20, struggling to keep his packet of newspapers dry even as he himself was getting drenched despite the cover of an umbrella.
The two belong to a dwindling number of unsung heroes holding up the crumbling edifice of print in Kerala, which is facing the threat of being undone for want of newspaper boys. This is a state where labour cannot be got for love or money for plumbing, wiring, digging, household work, or what have you. A surprise indeed that there are these few who are still willing to do a job that involves waking up at unearthly hours, offers hardly any off-days and pays a pittance. Their frail and wet -- but serving -- hands hold the destiny of many media persons and their families. 

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