Stories waiting to be told

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Why don’t journalists tell their stories, beyond the news they report on? One would suspect that they would have many stories waiting to be told
Frederick Noronha

In pandemic times, many of us have been trapped for longer periods at home. So, reading and reminiscing comes almost naturally. Some don’t like too much of this happening online. But, to me, going down memory lane is also a way of understanding our recent
history.
Some journalist colleagues have been giving us a ringside view to understanding people and events, issues and trends within a Goa of recent times. For instance, Camil Parkhe, a journalist who worked in The Navhind Times in the 1980s and early 1990s, has been doing a series of interesting write-ups on his days here via Facebook. His byline would surely be familiar to senior readers of this journal. Of course, in those times, it was far tougher for reporters to be bestowed bylines for the news stories they wrote.
Besides the topics he chooses, Camil’s style of writing is also catchy. So, he follows the reportorial style that journalists have been encouraged to use (more in the past, than now). “His” stories keep Camil himself in the background, and focus more on wider issues, prominent people, and happenings from those times. Camil, who traces his roots to Ahmednagar, had come to Goa (“the only place where my first name was pronounced right”) to join the priesthood, but ended up in journalism. He has worked here and in Pune and elsewhere.
Another photo-journalist, also from the Navhind of the yesteryears, is Sandeep Naik. After spending almost an entire working life in the Gulf, Sandeep spends part of his time in Goa. He was one of those who opted to work in the Gulf, in the 1980s, when former Navhind Times editor Bikram Vohra shifted there.
Recently, he shared a photo taken by him, which was a classic shot for those, like this writer, who were college students in the 1980s. In those politicised and tumultous times, Goa had an active students’ movement. During one of the protests, Sandeep Naik shot a very dramatic image. In it, some policemen had their lathis raised over the heads of slender girl students. The reader can only imagine what might have happened moments after the photo was shot!
This brings us to a wider point. Why don’t journalists tell their stories? I mean, beyond the news they report on? As someone who has been collecting (but also reviewing, and sometimes publishing) books on Goa, one would suspect that they would have many stories waiting to be told.
A few have told their ‘stories’ in their books. Another Navhind Times’ senior GR Singbal’s book on his days in journalism has been discussed in these columns. Late Ervelle Menezes, the Bastora-linked journo who was with the Indian Express as its news editor in Mumbai, has also penned his memoirs. A few others have done so too.
By narrating their version of the story – whether one agrees with everything in it or not – they have also left for posterity, a story of the Goa of their times.
It’s sometimes tempting for a journo to put together a compilation of their writing, columns or whatever. Having done so myself, one can say without hesitation that this is a lazy way of doing things, if not a bad idea. For one, journalistic writing usually doesn’t stand the test of time. Besides, it’s hard to understand the context of something that was written for a daily newspaper, many years in the past.
Which brings us to a book one came across recently, Paresh Prabhu’s Gomantakiya Marathi Patrakaritecha Itihas (The History of Goan Marathi Journalism). Just out (July 2020), the 264-page book is priced at `250 and is published by the Goa Marathi Akademi.
Not an autobiography obviously, it is a biography of sorts of the Marathi press in Goa and some of the people who made it happen. It starts with a history of early printing in Goa (the first place in Asia to have access to a Gutenberg-styled press), 1556, Abyssinia, the Jesuits, and the rest. Facsimilies of texts and pages from another era pepper the book, giving an insight into texts from those times, preserved mainly at the Central Library today, one would
assume.
The next pages look at Marathi use in Portuguese times, the introduction of Devanagari types into Goa, and the region’s first private printing press (run by the Costas in Margao). Mumbai’s Marathi journalism and Goa’s, and early publications (like the masthead ‘Deshsudharnetschu’, which might seem surprisingly tongue-twisting today) are mentioned or displayed across its pages.
The last was this paper which started off Marathi journalism in Goa, followed by others like O Goatma or O Goapancha. Bilingual papers could carry an odd mix of Luso-Marathi influences, such as Luz do Oriente, whose name could translate to ‘Light of the East’.
Dada Vaidya, Prabhat, Hindu Maat (‘O Opiniao Hindu’ based on what was then Rua Calicut in Nova-Goa), O Bharat, Hegde Dessai, Bharat Mitra, Swayamsevak, and such names crop up in the story of Marathi
journalism in Goa.
Events from Goa’s history like the ‘Suddhikaran’ Movement are also discussed. Coming closer to our times, editor BD Satoskar, Pradeep, Gomantvani, Gomantak, the till-recently published Rashtramath, and Navprabha all have pages devoted to them. The book concludes with lists of local newspapers, in diverse languages (Marathi, Portuguese, English), but one missed a table of contents.
Obviously, many stories are still waiting to be told.